With the Holiday season approaching, I thought it was appropriate to include some pointers that Kelly Feehan, UNL Extension Horticulturist provided on selecting a real Christmas tree. If you plan to use a live cut tree, buy a fresh tree. The best way to ensure freshness is to buy from a local grower. To locate area Christmas trees growers, refer to the Nebraska Christmas Tree Growers list found on the Nebraska Department of Agriculture website. There are over 21 Christmas tree farms in the state, located across different areas in 16 counties so it shouldn’t be difficult to find a tree farm. Most of these farms, you can also select the live and harvest it so freshness is not a concern.
When buying an already cut tree, check the tree closely for freshness. Do not buy a tree with brittle or shedding needles. Tap the base of the trunk on the ground and comb your fingers through branches to look for shedding needles. Bend a few needles in half to check for brittleness. After bringing the tree home, make a clean cut across the base of the trunk to better allow the tree to take up water. Keep the tree in a sturdy stand that holds at least one gallon of water. Check the stand daily as a fresh tree can take up one or more gallons of water each day. Selecting Nebraska grown trees and checking for freshness will help increase safety during the holidays.
Kelly also has tips for cutting holiday greenery. Cutting holiday greenery from your own landscape can help ensure freshness. Pine, fir and cedar are good to use for indoor decoration as they dry out slowly and hold their needles best at warm indoor temperatures. For safety, be aware the red berries of Japanese Yew are poisonous, as are the green needles. Avoid the use of this greenery or be sure to keep Japanese Yew greenery out of reach of children and pets, and do not discard it where cattle or horses might eat it. Cutting greenery is pruning so use clean, sharp cutters and well placed, evenly distributed cuts. This is not the ideal time to prune, so don’t harvest too much greenery and make discreet cuts. Keep greenery in a cool location out of sunlight with the cut ends in water until ready to use the greens. Crush the ends of woody stems to allow the cuttings to take in more water. Immerse greenery in water overnight just before arranging it. This will allow it to absorb moisture and remain fresh longer.