How to choose a real Christmas tree and keep it fresh and alive

by Kremy

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A real Christmas tree embodies the spirit of the holiday and creates a unique atmosphere at home. It is true, you need to clean the area around it from the fallen needles but the unique fresh flavor and the authentic charm and the delight of the family and guests are worth the efforts. In addition, the natural beauty of real Christmas trees is a huge advantage and after the holidays you can plant them in the garden and give them a new chance for life.

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How to choose a real Christmas tree? What is important to know when you go to the market or to a tree farm? What is better – a fir in a container or a pre-cut one? How to keep your real Christmas tree fresh and beautiful throughout the holiday season? We shall give you many practical and useful tips so that you have a wonderful Holiday!

How to choose a real Christmas tree?

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When buying a real Christmas tree you need to keep a few factors in mind. Although it seems like a piece of cake, you would not want to be disappointed because you chose a fir that is too tall or too short, or that cannot be fitted in the place that you selected. So, how to choose a Christmas tree and what is important to know about real Christmas ones?

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The tree species – When you got to the market or to a tree farm, you need to know that among the most popular tree species are Norway spruce (Picea abies), Nordmann fir (Abies nordmanniana), Noble fir (Abies procera), Fraser fir (Abies fraseri), Blue spruce (Picea pungens), Norway spruce (Picea abies), Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris L), White pine (Pinus strobus L.).

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Choosing the shape – The shape of the crown will vary for each variety, so it will be a good idea to take your time and find a tree with a good shape, a central branch that points upwards and the branches should be well positioned with green and glossy needles. Check for insects and pets as firs and pines are often a shelter to many bugs and you can easily get them into your home.

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Make sure you buy a fresh plant. Any tree that has brown needles or dry needles is not likely to last for a very long time in your home. The needles should be shiny, green and flexible. You can drag your hand along a branch and the needles should not come off. A useful tip from an expert is to choose a heavy tree. This means that it is healthy, full of water and fresh while a dry one means that you will probably waste your money.

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The right place  – Once you found a tree that is shaped to your liking, make sure that you have the right place for it. Knowing the height of your ceilings, or measuring them before you shop for a tree, is very helpful. Remember that you have to provide enough space for a container or a stand. Usually Christmas trees have a height of 7-8 feet (2- 2,50 m) which is a perfect height for most homes.

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Once you have chosen your real Christmas tree you need to make sure that it will stay fresh and alive throughout the holidays. People who prefer to buy their holiday firs early should store them outdoors in a shelter or sheltered area. The tree has to be safe from wind and freezing temperatures and it is best if the base is in a bucket of water until you are ready to decorate the tree.

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Get your real Christmas tree ready for decoration – before you decorate it with ornaments, garlands or lights, cut about one inch (2 cm) from the base. By doing so, you will allow it to absorb more water. Never drill a hole in the base of the trunk thinking it will help the tree draw up more water. Make a straight cut across the trunk. Cutting at an angle or a V-shape cut when you want to fit the conifer into a smaller stand or container harms it and reduces its ability to drink water. Place it in a stand or a container. Avoid placing it in sand or peat as those block the pores of the base and this will make it impossible for the tree to absorb water.

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Do not place your real Christmas tree near an open fire or a radiator as this will speed up the drying. In a cool room your conifer will last longer. However, you have to add water to the stand or container on a daily basis. Some trees can take up to 2 liters of water per day. Adding aspirin or soda in the water will not make your spruce live longer, despite the urban legends about these additives. Check the level and add water whenever necessary. Families that have pets may have the problem that the pets use the Christmas tree as a bathroom. To avoid that, it is advisable to choose a variety with sharp needles like Blue Spruce.

How to take care of your container-grown Christmas tree?

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Real Christmas trees can be grown in pots or containers and are also called “living Christmas trees”. They are amazingly beautiful and are increasingly fashionable among customers who prefer to keep their tree alive instead of throwing it away. You may be a fan of those magnificent huge ones but keep in mind that smaller trees adapt more easily to new conditions and you should not feel sorry or disappointed you have to buy a modest size real Christmas tree due to the limited space that you have available.

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Container-grown firs are sold in pots or containers with soil which protect their roots. Usually they have been grown for at least one season in their pots and with a typical height of three foot (1 meter). Living Christmas trees are as easy to care for as any house plant. You should place them away from open fire and radiators, preferably on a light place. Keep a container-grown Christmas conifer watered to avoid premature needle loss. Due to the smaller size, such trees should be decorated with ornaments and garlands suitable for their height. Larger bulbs of Christmas lights may damage the foliage, so it is better to use lights with smaller bulbs.

What to do with your real Christmas tree after the holidays?

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There is no rule how long you can keep your real Christmas tree in your house. Usually cut conifers look great for about twelve to fourteen days, but your best guide is the tree itself. Cut Christmas trees are recyclable. You can check if there is a recycling center in your neighborhood where it will be chipped up to make compost or mulch or take it to the nearest zoo.

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Container Christmas trees should be moved outside if they look unhappy and dry. Container-grown Christmas trees have a very good chance of re-planting them in the garden but you have to give them time to adjust in a cooler room prior planting them in soil to avoid the shock from moving them from a warm room to a cold garden. However, keep in mind that most conifers grow really tall so consider if you have enough place in the garden and where you would want to re-plant your living fir. In case that you want to use your container-grown Christmas fir in the future it is best if you keep it in the container and move it to a bigger pot or container at spring.

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Hopefully, these tips and ideas will be helpful to all of you who prefer a real Christmas tree, either cut or container grown, and you will enjoy its fresh scent and unique charm during the holidays. Yes, you may have to pick up needles from the floor and carpet, you will have to take care of it but all this cannot be compared to the pleasure of enjoying a magnificent, traditional, authentic, real Christmas tree.

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