Have you ever stood in the center of a Christmas tree lot and had no idea how to distinguish one from the other. Have you gotten home and thought, "I hope I don't kill this thing." These tips from Andrea Lanaro at Hauppauge-based Pool Fection and Leslie Olsen from Olsen's Discount Nurseries in Nesconset should give you more information under your belt, pick out the perfect tree and tend to it like a pro this holiday season.
1. What is the best shape to get?
"It needs full, good levels… something that actually looks like a Christmas tree," Lanaro said.
2. What is an ideal height?
"You usually want to go about a foot below your ceiling. If you have an 8-foot ceiling, your tree shouldn't be taller than 7-feet. Remember, you need to leave some room for a tree topper," Lanaro said.
3. What is the best kind of tree?
There are several different species of trees sold as Christmas trees. There are Fraser firs and the Balsam fir, which are very similar. A Fraser's needles are soft, and there is a lot of space in between the branches in order to hang larger ornaments.
"A Fraser Fir has more needles per branch, which makes the tree appear fuller" Lanaro said.
Other varieties frequently sold include Colorado blue spruce's which are known for their bluish-green colors with silver-tipped needles. It is similar and sometimes mistaken for the Douglas fir, which also has a blue-green color, but has softer needles.
4. How can you tell the health of the tree?
"You pull on one of the branches. If the needles come off, that means the tree is drying out. It means it's not getting enough water, and it's probably been sitting on the lot for awhile," Lanaro said.
5. How do you care for it once you get it home?
"Cut about an inch off the bottom of the trunk. Usually most places will cut it for you. Once you cut it, put it directly into water, so it soaks through bark and into the tree," Lanaro said.
"Use hot water. It will prevent the sap from forming over the stump. This will keep it healthy for a longer period of time. Also, avoid putting the tree near a heat vent or a fireplace. Heat will dry your tree out much faster," Olsen said.
6. What type of base is the best to use?
"I wouldn't go with the metal bases with the little legs. They aren't very sturdy. I would go with a big plastic round one. Their water base is much deeper, so you don't have to water the tree as much. Check your tree everyday to make sure it has enough water. Put your finger in the base to check if there is a pool of a couple inches. If it is constantly watered, the tree will last about a month, maybe longer," Lanaro said.