Published on 11/25/19

UGA Extension offers tips on how to select and maintain your Christmas tree this holiday season

By Maria Sellers

The holiday season is here, and for many Georgia families that means a trip to the local Christmas tree farm is in order.

While the elements of the perfect tree are different for everyone, there are several important things to consider when choosing a live tree, according to Lucy Ray, Morgan County University of Georgia Cooperative Extension coordinator.

First, tree buyers should decide where the tree will be located in the home.

“Tree buyers need to determine where in their house the tree will be displayed, so they can determine what size of tree they will need,” said Ray, whose home county grows approximately 200 acres of Christmas trees.

Christmas tree buyers should make sure to choose a fresh tree that will last throughout the Christmas season. According to Ray, tree freshness can be determined by either running a hand over the needles or shaking the tree.

“If you grasp the branch of the tree and run your hand over the needles or shake the tree and several needles fall out, it likely is not fresh,” she said.

Freshness is an important factor in all Christmas tree varieties. Seven different varieties of Christmas trees are grown in Georgia: white pine, Virginia pine, red cedar, Arizona cypress, Leyland Cypress, Canadian hemlock and Carolina hemlock.

No matter which variety of tree a buyer chooses, they all require the same type of care.

One factor in tree management is determining whether a tree’s trunk needs to be trimmed after it is purchased from a Christmas tree farm.

“If the tree has been cut within eight hours of the time the person would pick it out, the tree’s trunk will not need to be cut anymore,” Ray said.

It is also important to keep the tree’s water level balanced. A tree will likely require more water when it is first displayed in the home. But, as with any plant, it is important not to apply too much water.

Ray said that there are other precautions that should be taken to ensure the tree is safe in the home.

“Keep the tree away from space heaters and things that could cause it to catch fire, and keep it out of direct sunlight so it will last longer,” she said.

To learn more about how to care for Georgia-grown Christmas trees, see a previous story from Ray, “Christmas trees can be fun but also dangerous.”

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