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How do I take care of my Christmas tree? -Washington Daily News

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How do I take care of my Christmas tree?

Posted at 17:50 Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Thanksgiving just passed, which means Christmas is just around the corner! My family traditionally decorates for Christmas the weekend after Thanksgiving, which means right now. The commercial push seems to make it earlier every year, but we remain steadfast in this tradition in my house. I look forward to this time of year for fun, socializing, food, and decorating! As a traditionalist, I like real live wood in my home. There’s nothing better than that smell as soon as you open the door to your home to set the mood and create a festive mood.

So where do you go to get a tree? North Carolina is the second largest producer of Christmas trees in the country. Why look further? Choosing a tree can be a fun and rewarding family activity. Think about where the tree will be in the house and determine the side that best suits your needs. There are several options where you can purchase your tree. Just like Griswold, you can go to the farm, pick and cut your own tree. During the holidays, several local Christmas trees will be open, where you can choose and buy a tree. Finally, several nonprofits host holiday fundraisers with trees or wreaths to let you know your money is going to support a great cause. This week I picked up our wreaths for our Master GardenerSM Brookgreen Family Farm Volunteer Fundraiser. I currently have four wreaths left if you are looking for one!

The freshest trees will be from one of our North Carolina Christmas tree farms, so look for lots that sell local or North Carolina Christmas trees. There are several species to choose from: Fraser fir, white pine, Scots pine, and Leyland cypress. Each type of wood has its own unique scent and texture that will complete your Christmas decorations. Fraser fir is probably the most popular and for good reason. It boasts good needle retention, excellent fragrance, strong limbs and stays fresh for weeks with proper care. White pine is another great choice. It has a softer texture, good needle retention and more flexible limbs than Fraser fir. Scots pine is between Fraser fir and white pine in texture. It has good needle retention and aroma. Leyland cypress is lighter green than other trees. It has soft flexible limbs, a soft texture and a very attractive shape. Leyland requires more water and tends to dry a little faster than the others.

So you’ve purchased your perfect tree and managed to get it home on top of the family truck, now what? Prepare your tree stand, try a dry fit to make sure it will work with your tree. Use a serrated saw to make a new cut about an inch above the original cut. Place the tree in the stand and tighten it, leveling and securing the tree with string if necessary. Now immediately add hot tap water. If you buy your tree from a bulk lot and they make a fresh cut for you, put it in hot water (hot from the tap, not boiled) for an hour. This will prevent the sap from your fresh cut from sealing the base of the tree, allowing it to draw water into the tree. The tree will need watering three to four times in the first 24 hours, so keep an eye on it. It is important that it does not dry out, because a fresh cut will compact a lot, which will significantly affect the longevity of the tree. Do not use any additives in your tree water. Studies show that they are unnecessary and shorten the tree’s longevity many times over.

Place the tree away from heat sources, vents, fireplaces, radiators and sunny windows. They will dry the tree. Remember not to overload electrical circuits and turn off lights when you leave or go to bed. Enjoy your tree!

On a side note, I would like to congratulate the students who passed the Extension Master GardenerSM Volunteer activities! They completed the classroom portion of the certification requirements and moved on to the internship. Volunteer Master Gardeners must attend approximately 40 hours of classes and complete a 40-hour internship before they become fully certified volunteers. I would like to thank them personally for their hard work and dedication. They will be here and ready to help you.

If you have any home garden or landscape concerns, please send your questions to Gene Fox, Consumer Horticulture Agent for the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, at gene_fox@ncsu.edu. Learn more on Facebook at the Blacklands Area Horticulture page or visit the Extension Office located at 155 Airport Road in Washington, NC.

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