It’s time to think about choosing this year’s Christmas tree. But before you do, there are a few things to consider.
First, measure the area where you will place the tree to make sure you don’t buy a tree that’s too large.
LSU AgCenter forestry specialist Don Reed recommends making sure you get the freshest tree.
“It’s best to get your tree from a ‘choose-and-cut’ tree farm if at all possible to insure that it is fresh,” Reed said. “You just never know when those trees were cut that you buy from retail stores.”
If you have to buy from a store, you can do a few things to determine whether the tree is fresh or not.
“For customers who have to buy pre-cut trees, there is a ‘freshness test’ you can do to determine just how fresh the tree is,” Reed said. “Gently grasp a branch and pull it toward you. If the tree is fresh you won’t pull off many needles.”
You can also shake the tree to determine freshness, Reed explained. “Again, if a lot of needles fall off, that’s not a tree you want to buy.”
Once you make the choice and bring the tree home, you should make a cut straight across the base of the trunk about one-quarter inch above the first cut and get it in water as soon as possible.
“During the first couple of days, the tree will take up lots of water,” Reed said. “So make sure you monitor the tree and don’t let the water get low.”
If the tree does happen to sit out of water for more than a day or two, you may need to make another cut on the base as before to allow the tree to take up water. It doesn’t take long for the tree to build a callus on the cut end of the trunk, so even when you put water back in the stand, the tree won’t take up the water, Reed said.
“I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep fresh water in the stand as long as the tree is up,” Reed said. “That’s all you need, just fresh water, nothing added to it.”
Not only will water help to keep the tree looking fresh, but it also will avoid creating a fire hazard, he said.
“Leyland cypress is the best tree for this area,” Reed said. “They are the longest-lasting, and they are allergy-free.”
Other important tips to help you be safe with your tree this year include:
•Make sure the tree is placed away from any heat source, like furnaces, which causes the tree to dry out more quickly.
•Inspect the wires and connections on all lights before placing them on the tree.
•Keep gifts and other flammable materials away from direct contact with the tree.
•Only plug lights in if responsible individuals are at home, and keep an eye on the tree.
•Unplug lights before you go to bed.
For more information, contact Dr. Chris Robichaux, county agent/area horticulturist, St. Martin/Iberia Parishes, at 332-2181 or 369-4440.