Sold commercially in the
Much more is needed to produce the quintessential Christmas tree than simply taking a seedling, planting it, and hoping for the best. Science and technology have largely improved upon the early days of 1851 when Mark Carr opened the first Christmas tree retail lot in
Whether you purchase a tree from a “cut-your-own” farm or garden center there are many choices to consider. Fragrance, needle retention, texture and color dictate many a decision. Balsam fir (Abies balsamea) has short, flat, long lasting needles that are dark green with a silver cast. Typically, this tree is associated with having that “traditional Christmas tree smell.” Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) smells like oranges. Needles are blue to dark green, about 1 ½” and also hold their needles well. Named for David Douglas who studied the tree in the 1800’s, this tree can live for a thousand years. White Pine (Pinus strobus) has soft, long, blue-green needles with a very full appearance. This tree has very little fragrance and doesn’t hold heavy ornaments as well. Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris) has stiff branching, dark green needles that are about an inch long and hold ornaments very well. Fraser fir (Abies fraseri) has quickly become the standard for Christmas trees. Dark green-blue needles, about an inch long, adorn this pyramidal-shaped tree. Good fragrance and excellent needle retention have catapulted this tree to stardom over the last decade. Last but not least is Noble fir (Abies procera). If I could liken a tree for a moment to a car, than this is your Ferrari. Bluish-green needles that are almost rubbery to the touch never seem to shed on your floor. Stiff branches hold heavier ornaments and it has a great fragrance.
Another way to enjoy your holiday is by planting a b&b tree. B&B (ball and burlap) trees are live trees that you can later plant in your yard. Though it can be more of an arduous task the rewards are numerous. Thoughtfully pick a location in your yard suitable for a conifer. Remember that most conifers, a cone-bearing tree or shrub, do not like shade. While there are a few exceptions, those listed previously enjoy more sun than shade. Remember that these species trees are all majestic giants. They will some day reach for the sky. So give them plenty of room and try not to plant them in a hedge line five feet apart from one another as this will have a pejorative affect on your landscape. Be mindful that live trees are becoming more popular. Go to your local plant purveyor and ask to purchase your tree and have it delivered or picked up closer to Christmas. Once your tree is home place it in your garage for a day or two, so as to slowly acclimate the tree from the temperature outside from that of inside. Try not to have your live tree in your house for more than five to seven days and reverse the procedure when you plant your tree after the holidays. Dig the hole prior to the ground freezing as this will facilitate your planting.
Evergreens around the holiday conjure up feelings of nostalgia, longing for our childhood past. Cut trees are multi faceted as they can be recycled and used as mulch after the holiday season. Live trees not only provide a habitat for wildlife but also grow as our families do. Wherever you purchase your tree this year be cognizant of its height as trees look smaller outside than they do inside your home. Check for needle retention by pulling on the limbs to see if any needles fall off. Remember to put a fresh cut on your cut tree and keep it well irrigated during the first ten days. A cut tree can consume more than a quart of water per day. Choose a cool location away from drafts and any nearby heat source such as a fireplace, radiator or stove. Feel great about your purchase knowing that this year alone nearly 73 million new Christmas trees will be planted. Finally, remember that cut trees came from mother earth…so be kind and recycle when possible. Consumers can locate the nearest recycling program by logging onto www.realchristmastrees.org or by calling 1-800-CLEANUP.