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Selecting Christmas trees

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Larry Sagers Horticultural Specialist Utah State University Extension Service Thanksgiving Point Office © All Rights Reserved

This weekend is the prime Christmas tree buying time for families across the country. Some 33 million trees are cut, shipped and displayed throughout the land. More than 98 percent of these trees are plantation grown, making them an excellent renewable resource.

Choose a well-formed symmetrical tree. Check the height and width of the tree to make certain it will fit the area for which it is intended and allow enough for cutting at least one half inch from the bottom of the trunk.

As you select your Christmas tree, appearance and freshness are the most important considerations. Some trees offer a more symmetrical, formal look, while others have a less symmetrical, more informal look. Let your home decor and your planned ornamentation guide this selection.

Check the tree by standing it upright and tapping it on the ground. Fresh trees do not drop needles from the outside of the tree. Older needles on the inside of the tree may drop away, but that does not indicate the tree is not fresh. Bend several needles gently between your fingers. On most species, if they are brittle and break, the tree is not as fresh as you would like. If they bend, the tree is fresh.

The trees are already cut, so waiting to buy the tree does not mean it is going to be any fresher. Insure a fresh tree by purchasing it early. When you get it home, cut at least one half inch off the base and immediately stand the tree in fresh water. Keep the container filled at all times. If the tree looses its water, the vessels of the tree seal off and it is unable to pull more water into the plant.

Many trees are sprayed with commercial anti-desiccant. If your tree has not been sprayed, nurseries have anti-desiccants for sale. Trees last longer if they are moved gradually from a cold area into an enclosed porch or basement for a day or two before bringing them into heated living rooms.

Place the tree as far away as possible from heat sources such as ducts, fireplaces, or television sets. Continue adding water as needed throughout the time the tree is inside the home.

As you venture forth to select your tree this weekend, look for a fresh, well shaped tree of the variety that suites your conditions. Shop early for best selection and keep your tree in water in a cool, shaded place until bringing it indoors. Decorate it with safe, approved lights and enjoy this wonderful symbol of the holiday season.

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