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Talking Trees Live: Tips for Picking the Perfect Christmas Tree

ISA board-certified master arborist R.J. Laverne shares tips for finding the best live Christmas tree at Morse Christmas Tree Farm.
(Special thanks to The Morse Family for having us!)

What are the Best Tree Species for a Christmas Tree

Colorado Blue Spruce (00:05:51)

  • Popular landscape tree, known for its beautiful shape and color
  • Great for needle retention, as long as you keep them watered
  • Downside: be careful with its prickly needles

Fir Trees (00:08:59)

Known for their classic Christmas scent, fir trees have nice sturdy branches for hanging heavy ornaments. Here are a few popular species and characteristics for each

  • Species: Fraser (00:07:45) Canaan (00:08:40)
    • Holds foliage well
    • Needles are softer
  • Species: White Fir (00:09:24)
    • Longer needles compared to the Fraser and Canaan
    • Needles are flexible
    • Requires a little more care with watering for needle retention

Eastern White Pine (00:10:43)

One of RJ’s favorites! The scent is very subtle so is great for people who are sensitive to smells.

Did you know: How to tell the difference between a pine, fir, and spruce tree?

The needles on a pine are in bundles of 5 versus fir and spruce that have individual needles.

How to Pick the Perfect Christmas Tree

RJ’s advice is to first go to your local tree farm and bring your loved ones! It is less about the species of the tree, and about the memories you make finding it.

Make the adventure of finding the perfect tree about the experience with your loved ones.

Now that you have your perfect tree, time to bring it home! Let’s talk about the placement.

Keep your tree away from heater vents to prevent it from drying out too quickly. More importantly for safety, keep it away from wood stoves, fireplace, and any candles. (00:22:33)

Tips on How to Care for Your Live Christmas Tree to Prevent Needle Drop

  • Use newer LED or small miniature lights to help keep the tree from drying out because the larger bulbs tend to dry the tree faster (00:14:00)
  • Water frequently to prevent foliage from drying and needles dropping
  • Myth Buster: There is no ‘magic dust’ to add to your water to prolong the life of your tree. (00:23:35)

Here are some additional tips on how to stop needles from falling off your Christmas tree and how to keep your Christmas tree fresh and green.

For safety purposes, always be sure to have a fire extinguisher in your house.

How to Catproof Your Christmas Tree

RJ passes along a tip he heard, that cats don’t like the smell of orange peels. So try putting some at the base of the tree. (00:26:00)

Here are some other ways to “catproof your Christmas tree.”

Viewer Questions

If you shake the tree and a bunch of needles fall off, does that mean the tree isn’t good? (00:16:24)

At a tree farm where you are freshly cutting the tree, there won’t be very many dry needles.

But if you go to a lot with pre-cut Christmas trees, it is difficult to tell how long those trees have been harvested.

RJ’s tip: If you go to a pre-cut lot, grab the needles and give them a gentle pull. If a lot of the needles fall off or the twig is brittle, then the tree was probably cut for a week or so ago. Which tends to dry the tree out.

If you purchase a pre-cut tree, make sure when you get home to cut off 2-3 inches off the bottom of the trunk. When the tree is cut, the sap in the trunk tends to become gummy and doesn’t allow much water uptake. So, by cutting off a few inches it will unplug water vessels within the trunk to allow water to be pulled up through the rest of the tree.

How to care for a ball and burlap tree?

If you do have a ball and burlap tree that you bring inside, it’s extremely important to keep the root ball consistently wet for moisture by using a waterproof container.

RJ also suggests bringing the tree inside 1-2 days before Christmas and then quickly getting it back outside shortly after to help prevent the buds from thinking it’s springtime because once they start to swell (thinking it’s growing season), it will freeze once it’s back outside and the new foliage will freeze and die. (00:18:31)

What do I do with my Christmas tree after the holiday?

You can take it outside and hang pinecones on it with peanut butter for the squirrels and birds.

When you are done with the tree, you can take it to a recycling facility, and the tree will be chipped and repurposed for landscape mulch. (00:21:32)

Here’s additional information on recycling your Christmas tree.

What size tree stand should I get for my tree?

Depending on the size of the tree, the tree species, and how fresh the tree has been harvested, they can go through a couple of gallons of water in a day. So, you want to choose a tree stand with a large water reservoir and large legs for sturdiness. (00:24:15)

How long do live Christmas trees last?

It depends on the tree species, but generally, you are looking at 6-7 weeks if you keep the tree well-watered, like fir trees. Some species may dry out a little sooner. (00:29:50)

Upcoming Talking Trees Live Series

Tune in for the next Talking Trees Live event! Each series will explore various tree care topics from damaging tree insects and diseases to landscape best practices and seasonal tree care tips. 

Have all your questions and concerns ready! You can ask them all live during the streaming interview. 

Be sure to ‘like’ Davey’s Facebook page to access the Talking Trees series live.

Don’t have Facebook? No worries, you can access all the past videos here.

>>> Check out the schedule here for upcoming Talking Trees Live topics!

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