What to consider when picking a Christmas tree

11/27/2012
BY KELLY HEIDBREDER
BLADE COLUMNIST

I've discovered that I have something in common with the Christmas tree.

I'd like to think it is that we are both sparkly and filled with the Christmas spirit, but there's one more thing. Riga. According to christmastree.org, the first Christmas tree was decorated in Riga, Latvia, and I grew up in Riga, Mich. OK, it is a bit of a stretch, but you got to admit it is a fun little bit of trivia.

In 1510, the first Christmas tree was actually decorated with paper, fruit, and candy. According to Rick Dungey of the National Christmas Tree Association, candles lit the a tree for the first time back in the 1700s and the first tree appeared in the United States near Chicago in the early 1800s.

Fact or fiction

Whether you like to have a real tree or a faux tree, it is time to start the decorating process.

Fact: If you are a faux tree fan, invest in a tree that is pre-lit to save on the frustration of stringing it with lights.

Fiction: Drilling holes at the base of your real tree won't help it take up water once it has stopped. The tree's trunk has millions of tiny straw-like cavities that take up water and drilling one hole doesn't open them back up again once they have been clogged.

Fact: Always give your real tree a fresh cut at the bottom then immediately put it in water so it will keep taking up water for weeks to come.

Fiction: What about hot water? Scientists say the water can be any temperature. Warmer water doesn't go up any faster than cold.

Fiction: Cutting your tree trunk on an angle can make it tougher to stand and won't help it take up water longer. Give it a straight cut along the bottom so it can sit flat on the bottom of your tree stand.

Shake-tug-break

Don't forget to do my famous shake, tug, break test. Shake the tree. If needles drop, its too dry and pick another tree. Tug the needles gently. If more than a couple pull off in your hand, its getting too dry. Then, try breaking a needle. They shouldn't snap in your grip. A well-watered tree should have flexible and fragrant needles.

Pick the perfect tree

The most popular tree in many living rooms is the Fraiser Fir and the Douglas Fir is a close second. Here are a few things to think about as you shop for the perfect Christmas tree:

Blue Spruce has a rigid square needles and they are sharp, so you need to be sure you wear long sleeves when decorating it. It has good needle retention and strong branches for heavy ornaments with a dull bluish-grey to silver color.

Concolor Fir has thick, succulent flat needles with a bluish tint and are also known as also known as a white fir. Some growers say this tree is good for people with pine or fir allergies. It smells like oranges and has good needle retention.

Douglas Fir has a flat needle is soft and lighter green. All fir trees are known to have strong branches with short, poky needles. They will hold their needles for a long time when cut and put inside.

Fraiser Fir has flat needles dark green on top and silver underneath. They have softer needles, yet strong branches. If you keep this tree watered, the needles stay on this tree until March.

Scotch or white pine has a 3-inch soft needle that are bundled at the end of the branch. It is the most inexpensive tree on most fresh tree lots and usually is the first to drop its needles. Some can look yellowish green, while others look blue green. These are easier to decorate, but may not be able to hold heavy ornaments.

Once you get your tree home, you need to give the trunk a fresh one inch cut. Submerge it in water immediately. Keep your eye on the tree reservoir because it will take up water fast for the first 48 hours. Keep your fresh tree away from the heater.

Contact Kelly Heidbreder at getgrowing@gmail.com.