When selecting your Christmas tree, remember these tips:
- Select a tree that is at least one foot shorter than the height of the ceiling in the room where you are going to display the tree.
- Check the freshness of the tree by running your fingers over the branch along the needles. Make sure the needles on the tree you select are pliable and adhere to the branches. They should bend, but not break or fall off.
- Try shaking the tree to see if the needles are firmly attached. While you can expect some loss of brown needles, don’t accept the tree if you notice an excessive loss of green needles.
- Avoid trees that have a wilted look. Make sure the trunk of the tree is straight. The stump should extend six to eight inches below the longest branches to allow placement in the tree stand.
- Always check for insects and dead needles inside the tree crown. Have dead needles and insects shaken or blown out of the tree before you take it home. If insects are found, spray the tree with an indoor-outdoor aerosol insecticide containing pyrethrins before bringing the tree inside.
Once you get your Christmas tree home, follow these tips to keep the needles on and the tree fragrant:
- Do a freshness test. Gently grasp a branch between your thumb and forefinger and pull it toward you. Very few needles should come off in your hand if the tree is fresh. Shake or bounce the tree on its stump. You should not see an excessive amount of green needles fall to the ground. Some loss of interior brown needles is normal and will occur over the lifetime of the tree.
- Once you’ve chosen your tree, keep it in a sheltered, unheated area such as a porch or garage to protect it from the wind and sun until you are ready to decorate it.
- Before you set up your tree, make a fresh, straight cut across the base of the trunk (about a quarter inch up from the original cut) and place the tree in a tree stand that holds a gallon of water or more.
- Warning: Keep the tree stand filled with water. A seal of dried sap will form over the cut stump in four to six hours if the water drops below the base of the tree, preventing the tree from absorbing water later when the tree stand is refilled. If a seal does form, another fresh cut will need to be made.
- A tree will absorb as much as a gallon of water or more in the first 24 hours and one or more quarts a day thereafter. Water is important because it prevents the needles from drying and dropping off and the boughs from drooping. Water also keeps the tree fragrant.
- Skip the sugar, salt and other tree water additives, they do not do anything for the tree. There are not any substantial benefits of adding anything to the water. It is far more important to make sure that the tree always has enough water.
- In addition, keep your tree away from heat and draft sources like fireplaces, radiators and television sets. Test your light cords and connections before hanging them on the tree to make sure they’re in good working order. You don’t want to use cords with cracked insulation or broken or empty sockets. Also be sure to unplug the lights before you go to bed or leave the house. Never overload electrical circuits.
- Do Not Smoke or Place Candles Near The Tree!
Sensible precautions such as these will help preserve the unique beauty and tradition that only a real Christmas tree can provide.