Saturday, December 3, 2016 By: Ask A Master Gardener

Selecting and Caring for a Christmas Tree

Choosing the perfect Christmas tree

Bill Sevier: Ask a Master Gardener

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Q: I am going to get either a live-cut Christmas tree or a live tree with roots to plant in my yard later. Which would be best? S.J., Tulsa
A: It seems that more and more people are opting for artificial Christmas trees, and they certainly have advantages in terms of cost savings. Storage, assembling and disassembling, are downsides.
Many feel that having a live tree is more in keeping with the Christmas spirit, this is especially true for older people for whom a live tree was the only option in their youth.
Live trees may come with their roots in pots or balled and burlapped to be planted later, or freshly cut, to be disposed of after Christmas.
OSU suggests that a live tree purchased for later planting be kept in an unheated and shaded area until brought inside. They should be watered regularly and planted soon after the holiday. It is best to minimize indoor time to a week.
Live-cut trees may be bought from a local vendor or you may go to one of about 15 Christmas tree farms, mostly in northeast Oklahoma, and cut your own. Look for the Oklahoma Christmas Tree Association website for details.
Many of the precut trees in local markets were shipped in from the northwest. They may be drying after having been cut for a few weeks. Dry trees lose needles and are fire hazards.
To help people pick out a fresh and good quality live-cut tree, OSU has published a list of recommendations to consider in the selection process, a summary of which is below:
• Tug the needles and bounce the butt on the ground. If green needles fall, consider another tree.
• Look for fresh green color. Some trees are sprayed with a blue-green dye to cover brown needles. Break some needles, they should be flexible and moist.
• Buy early before the desirable trees are sold.
• Fir and pine trees hold needles better than spruce trees.
• Be sure limbs are stout enough and located in such a way not only to produce a nice shape, but also to be able to support your decorations.
• Ask the dealer if the trees were locally grown or imported. Local trees are more likely to be fresh.
After selecting your live-cut tree, OSU has some suggestions for care to keep it fresh through the holidays:
• After purchase, cut an inch off the butt and immediately immerse it in plain water. No need for any additives to the water.
• Keep the tree in a cool shady area in water if there is a delay in bringing it indoors.
• Trees need a sturdy stand with lots of water; a tree may absorb a quart of water per day, so keep the reservoir full.
• Keep the tree away from heat sources such as fireplaces and air ducts. Never have an open flame near a tree.

If you follow these sensible recommendations, your tree should be safe and easily last for a few weeks, bringing a delightful addition to the holiday season.

Garden tips
• Proper care will extend the life of Poinsettias through the holiday season and beyond. Keep in the brightest light possible and away from cold windows and heating vents. They prefer a room temperature of 65-75 degrees. They will die or perform poorly with too much or too little water. When the top inch or so of the potting soil is dry, add lukewarm water until it emerges from the bottom of the pot. Discard this water. There is no need for fertilizer.
• If your roses have not been mulched, do so now. This is a good place to use those fall leaves that have been shredded with a mulching mower. Mulch not only will prevent cold damage to those susceptible plants but will keep soils from warming on warm winter days, breaking dormancy.


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