Christmas Trees / selecting and caring for one

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The needles of spruce, fir, and balsam are short and attached to the twigs singly; pine needles are longer and attached in clusters of two, three, or five. Most pines, firs, and the blue spruce contain good needle retention and a very nice fragrance. The white spruce and the norway spruce are poorer in both qualities.

Avoid hemlocks, they shed their needles readily. Needles of a fresh tree should be pliable, if they are brittle, fall off easy, have a pale or grayish-green look, the tree is not fresh. A Christmas tree with at least 80 percent moisture content stays fresher longer if watered. When moisture content drops below 80 percent, it will continue to fall even with watering.

When moisture content is at 20 percent, the tree is a fire hazard. If the only way to get a cut tree home is on the roof of your car, wrap it in burlap to prevent it from drying and place it with the base facing the front. If you will not be setting it up immediately, stand it in a bucket of water in a cool, protected area. Before setting up the Christmas tree (in a stand that holds water), cut off an inch or more of the trunk to increase it’s drinking capcity.

Water your tree regularly; a fresh Christmas tree absorbs up to a quart of water daily. Place the tree away from fireplaces, TV sets, any kind of heaters, and lit candles. Make sure the tree lights are UL approved and in top condition. Remember to always unplug the lights when not in use or if you leave your home. Clean up any spilled water prompty to prevent staining of your carpet or floor.

Some people buy a live evergreen with burlapped root ball for Christmas and plant it after the holidays. To plant it in a cold climate, you must dig a hole before the ground is frozen and mulch it. Keep the tree in the house no longer than ten days and do not forget to water it daily. Happy Holidays!

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