Check and maintain Christmas tree freshness
December 6, 2010
LINCOLN, Neb. – With Christmas just around the corner, it’s time to find that perfect Christmas tree for the season. Whether it is a pre-cut tree from a retail lot or a cut-your-own tree, Nebraska Forest Service forester Dennis Adams says beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but freshness is the key.
Adams said freshness is the main advantage of going to a local Christmas tree farm and cutting a tree or having the grower cut the tree.
“Buying from a local tree farm helps keep money in the Nebraska economy and helps local businesses,” Adams said.
Another advantage of real trees is the fragrance and aroma that everyone associates with a Christmas tree, he said.
Adams said people need to ensure that pre-cut trees are fresh and not dried out, because dry trees can present potential fire hazards. Adams said some pre-cut trees are cut long before Thanksgiving and shipped in, so checking for freshness at the retail lot is important.
Adams said some easy ways to check for freshness include striking the tree on the ground to see how many needles fall out, stroking tree branches to check for softness and flexibility and also taking needles between fingers to check for flexibility. He said most trees at retail lots are sprayed with green colorant, so green needles don’t necessarily mean fresh trees. If many green needles fall off or the green needles are brittle, that’s a good indication the tree isn’t fresh.
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People should cut about one-half inch off the butt end of a pre-cut tree and then put the tree in a stand that holds plenty of water. Trees can absorb up to a gallon in the first day. A tree that doesn’t absorb water is most likely dry. He said people shouldn’t let the water get below the cut surface and should make sure the tree is watered regularly.
“Taking care of a Christmas tree is just like keeping fresh cut flowers in a vase,” Adams said.
Once trees are up in the home, people need to take precautions. Don’t set up the tree near heat sources because the heat can dry the foliage. Only use Underwriters Laboratories (UL) inspected lights. Also check the wiring on Christmas lights to make sure there are no shorts or frayed ends.
“Common sense is important to keep trees fresh,” Adams said.
A fresh-cut tree can last a long time, depending on the species of the tree. If people do what they can to keep their tree fresh, Adams said it easily will last through the Christmas season.
“People will have no problem keeping up a tree from the time it is put up until after Christmas and into the first of the year,” Adams said.