1. Education

Getting to Know Your Christmas Tree

Tips and Tricks for Real Christmas Tree Lovers

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Millions of families use a "real" cut Christmas tree for their holiday celebration. Most of these trees come from Christmas tree farms and many are sold at local Christmas tree lots. According to the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA), 56 million trees are planted each year for future Christmases and 30 to 35 million families will shop and buy a real Christmas tree this year.

Here are some important things you need to know if you love selecting a real Christmas tree and enjoy its beauty and fragrance. Christmas tree growers make sure you will always have a future supply of this great renewable resource.

1. The Most Popular Christmas Tree in North America

Photo by Steve Nix
Here is a short list of the most favored Christmas trees in North America. These tree are planted and promoted because they tend to be easily grown, are adaptable to cultural treatments and are popular with buyers. The following 10 Christmas Tree species have been voted and ranked as the most popular Christmas trees grown and sold in the United States and Canada. My Christmas tree poll is based on the ten most common trees available for purchase. They are ranked according to poll popularity.

2. Selecting a Cut Christmas Tree

Photo by Steve Nix
Selecting a Christmas tree at a nearby retail lot or from a Christmas tree farm can be great family fun. To help find a Christmas tree near you, check out NCTA's online member database.

If you are buying a cut Christmas tree from a retail lot, the main thing to remember is freshness when selecting a Christmas tree. The needles should be resilient. Take hold of a branch and pull your hand toward you, allowing the branch to slip through your fingers. Most, if not all, of the needles should stay on the Christmas tree.

Important: Print this Christmas Tree Picking Quick Guide and have it with you when you purchase your tree. Also, browse About Forestry's Christmas Tree FAQ

3. Caring for a Living Christmas Tree

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People are beginning to use living plants as their Christmas tree of choice. Is this choice right for you? Maybe and only if you are will to work at it. Most "living" Christmas tree's roots are kept in a "ball" of earth. The tree can be used very briefly as an indoor tree but must be replanted after Christmas Day. Remember that a living tree should not stay inside longer than ten days (some experts suggest only three or four days).

Several important tips: Keep the ball moist, wrap in plastic or place in a tub. Do not remove burlap if there is any. Don't remove any soil while in the house and limit inside stay to 7 to 10 days. Slowly remove to the outside using garage to shed to planting site. Do not plant in frozen soil.

4. Buying a Christmas Tree Online

Photo by Steve Nix
You can buy a Christmas tree online with only a few key strokes - and 300,000 people shop this way every year. Buying Christmas trees online directly from a quality Christmas tree grower will save valuable holiday time plus you will avoid a cold, overcrowded holiday tree lot only to find poor quality Christmas trees.

It is especially handy to order on-line for someone who has trouble getting out to buy due to physical problems. A special Christmas treat for even the healthy would be seeing a delivery truck delivering their own fresh tree for Christmas (make sure you know the size and varieties they like). I have selected several of the most popular internet Christmas tree dealers selling fresh from the farm.

5. Keeping a Cut Christmas Tree Fresh

Once you get your Christmas tree home there are several things you need to do to help your tree last through the season: Cut one-quarter inch off the base of trunk if the tree has been harvested over 4 hours. This fresh cut will insure a free flow of water but don't let the stump dry out. Keep the water level above the cut.

Should you add anything to the Christmas tree's water? According to the National Christmas Tree Association and Dr. Gary Chastagner, Washington State University, "your best bet is just plain tap water. It doesn't have to be distilled water or mineral water or anything like that. So the next time someone tells you to add ketchup or something more bizarre to your tree stand, don't believe it."

6. Shop Early for a Christmas Tree!

The weekend after Thanksgiving is traditionally when most Christmas tree shopping occurs. You might want to shop for a Christmas tree earlier as it will pay off with less competition for higher quality Christmas tree selections and a fresher holiday tree. You should consider mid-November a time to plan and follow through on your Christmas tree purchase.

7. Christmas Tree Quiz and Trivia

How much do you really know about your Christmas tree and it's glorious history and traditions? First, take my quick quiz and see just how savvy you are about the tree's early roots.

Interestingly, there are some questions as to which Christmas tree is our official National version. Is it the one outside the United States Capital, the one inside the White House, the one outside the white house, The "General Grant" Sequoia in California or the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree? Look it up.

There is also a great story surrounding the introduction of electric lights on Christmas trees. Seems lighted candles were just too dangerous and the incandescent light bulb was invented. Read the rest of the story.

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