This week, I thought that I would share with you all some advice on live Christmas trees from where to find them and how to keep them looking good through the holiday season. A special thank you to Cheryl Boyer K-State Research and Extension Nursery Crop Specialist for the advice!
Live Christmas trees are wonderful for creating celebratory ambiance. Who doesn’t love the smell of fresh greenery during the holidays? I know you have a choice between an artificial tree and a real one each year and they each have their pros and cons depending on the needs of your household. But if you are in the market for a real tree this year, here are a few tips to get the most out of the experience. First, picking out the perfect tree can be a great experience for families. If you’d like to pick out a locally grown tree, you can search for a farm at www.pickyourownchristmastree.org or in Kansas, the Kansas Christmas Tree Growers Association (www.kctga.com) has information on tree farms close by. These growers produce a variety of trees and may have some species (that might not grow well in the area) shipped from another part of the country (still grown in the USA!). The states with the largest export of Christmas trees are Oregon, North Carolina and Michigan. The most popular species for Christmas trees are pine, fir and spruce. Each has varying degrees of needle retention, fragrance and branch stiffness (for holding up ornaments, of course). When you go to pick out your tree, you can cut it yourself (saws provided) or the Christmas tree farmers will cut it for you. Most operations will then shake out the tree’s old needles (this is normal), wrap, load, and tie it to your vehicle. While you’re there, how about scheduling a session with a local photographer while you pick out your tree? What a great opportunity to have some family photos taken while supporting at least two small businesses. Christmas tree farm operators enjoy setting the stage fora pleasant and fun experience. Many also provide hot chocolate, cider, bonfires and candy canes. You will likely be able to purchase a wreath or garland for your front door as well. Of course, there are always pre-cut Christmas trees available at various stores around your town and they are generally great choices, too (they’ve just been shipped from a longer distance). Take a good look at all of them and see which ones will fit the space in your home and match your style of tree decorating. Second, after you’ve gotten your tree home, you will want to prepare the spot in your house with a tree stand and plenty of space to move the tree indoors. Before you bring it indoors, cut the bottom inch of the trunk off so that the tree can easily take up water. When the tree is originally cut at the farm, it begins to send sap down to close off the cells so that the canopy of the tree can be protected from water loss. It needs to be cut again to open up the cells that transfer water into the tree so that it won’t dry up during the few weeks it is in your home (no fire hazards, please!).Make sure to replenish the water in the tree stand regularly since they will transpire up to a gallon of water per day. Yay for indoor tree air purifiers during the holidays! Whether you choose a locally grown tree, purchase a live pre-cut tree locally, or enjoy your allergy-free artificial tree in your home this year, we hope it makes your Christmas very special.
Alicia Boor is the Agriculture and Natural Resources agent for Barton County K-state Research and Extension. One can contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 620-793-1910