Natural Christmas trees require planning, care

When selecting a tree, gently shake one of the tree’s branches to test for freshness. It is normal for a few needles to fall, but an excessive amount of green needles falling is a sign that the tree is not fresh.

Holiday celebrations often center around the Christmas tree. For families looking to spruce up the living room with a natural tree, these steps can help pick the right one and care for it properly to ensure a safer, longer-lasting tree.

Pick a freshly cut tree

When selecting a tree, gently shake one of the tree’s branches to test for freshness. It is normal for a few needles to fall, but an excessive amount of green needles falling is a sign that the tree is not fresh.

As an alternative to cutting a tree, families can consider purchasing a live evergreen from a local nursery or garden center. It can be planted in the yard after holiday décor comes down to enjoy for holidays to come.

Family Tree Nursery, 830 W. Liberty Drive, Liberty, can meet a wide variety of Christmas floral needs along with its selection of fresh cut Christmas trees that come in many sizes, types and prices.

The Christmas Ranch Tree Farm, 24818 NE 148th St., Excelsior Springs, is another Northland business that focuses on offering a wide variety of trees such as Scotch pine, Norway spruce, Canaan fir, Douglas fir, white pine, Virginia pine, Frasier fir and concolor fir.

Whether one plans to plant the tree after use or to recycle it, a key is remembering live trees require proper care and planning.

Water

Once a tree has been selected and cut down, it is important to drive it straight home and place it immediately into a bucket of hot water, says local nursery experts.

If a tree rests for more than 30 minutes before going into water, the end may begin to callous over and the tree may refuse to drink, according to the Family Tree Nursery website. Make a fresh cut to the trunk, taking off about a half inch before placing it back into the tree stand.

Trees will drink a lot of water, up to two gallons per day, for the first few days after being cut down. Continue refilling the tree stand with very hot water, and possibly a tree preservative. A fresh tree that is kept in water should last four to five weeks.

Put it in a safe spot

Picking a location for a tree not near a heating vent, wood stove or fireplace will help keep trees from drying out.

Ensure that your tree is secured in a sturdy stand away from high traffic areas and sources of open flames, such as candles and fireplaces, states experts. Check to see that all lights have cords that are not worn or frayed, and never leave home or go to bed with the Christmas tree lights on.

Recycle or plant when the holidays are over

If you don’t plan to make the January switch moving the tree from indoor to outdoor décor, then there are a few other creative options.

Placing the tree in the backyard can offer cover for wildlife. Trees under bird feeders can provide nesting locations in the branches. A tree can also be shredded or chipped for mulch, or one can sink it in a pond to enhance fish habitat.

Sports Writer Mac Moore can be reached at 389-6643 or mac.moore@mycouriertribune.com.

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