When it comes to the holiday season, choosing the type of tree that will take center stage in our homes can be a big decision. Dennis Patton, the horticulture agent at Johnson County's K-State Research and Extension Office, has some suggestions for choosing the perfect tree for your family and keeping it fresh. If you're ready to test your tree-selecting skills, stop by Mildale Farm on Saturday Dec. 6, for Johnson County Park & Recreation District and Kansas City WildLands' Red Cedar Christmas Tree Event.
A live tree has a unique feel, look and smell. Live trees are a renewable resource that helps promote American agriculture. Artificial trees are made from plastic. A live tree supports small independent growers, not a retail giant. But for some families, allergies or a hectic holiday traveling schedule make a real tree difficult to manage, making a plastic tree the better fit.
For those who do purchase a real tree, wandering through tree lots dreaming about what could be and the fun of putting up and decorating the tree are among the happiest moments of the season. There is something about looking at tree after tree for the one that is just perfect. Each person has different needs when picking out a tree. Finding that “just right” tree is in the eye of the beholder.
Before loading up the family and heading to the tree lot, determine the size of your ideal tree. How tall and wide can the tree be for your location? Trees may look small in a wide-open space but they have a habit of suddenly growing too big for their designated space once indoors.
Location in the home
In addition to size, it is important to think about where the tree will be located. In many homes, the tree is placed in a corner or along a wall - important information in the selection process. The tree with a bare side may be the best choice, as it will fit nicely along the wall taking up less space. It is difficult to find a tree with four good sides, but often two or three nice sides will do the trick.
Before placing the tree in the stand, cut off about 1 inch of the trunk and immediately place in the stand with warm water.
It's important that the tree has a constant supply of water to maintain freshness. If you notice the tress using less water as days or weeks go by, add hot water to the stand. Additives such as bleach, aspirin or other products are unnecessary, as the tree only needs water.
How long will the tree stay fresh?
It depends on the species of tree, but most will remain fresh for three to four weeks. After that point, the needles will start to dry, and the tree will often shed. Keeping the tree out of heat drafts also will increase the life of the tree.