Selecting a live Christmas tree can be one of most enjoyable things about the holidays. Picking a Christmas tree can be a great family or couple activity. When picking a live tree, there are some observations you should make to make sure you are selecting a healthy tree that will last through to the holiday. Live trees are beautiful but can easily mess up your holiday plans if they have wilt or worse carry unwanted holiday pests. We have a list of things to check when selecting a live Christmas tree.
Things to Check When Selecting a Live Christmas Tree
Observe the tree’s coloration. Their color should be a deep, rich green. Grayish green may mean that the tree is too dried out. Pull gently on the branch. A fresher tree should be able to hold onto the needles. If the tree is unhealthy, the needles will easily fall off. You can also check the health of the tree by pulling off a needle. A fresher trees needles will break in half, an older tree’s needles will be more pliable. Be sure to check the bark as well, wrinkled bark is another sign of an unhealthy tree.
A healthy tree will also have a fresh pine scent. If you smell mustiness and see brown spots, pick an alternate tree. These things can happen when the tree was cut too early or if the tree has a disease. You should also ask the grower or seller when the tree has been cut. Trees that are cut after the first frost tend to be healthier. If the tree is already cut, you can do the shake test. Shake the tree, if it drops a few needles, this is normal, if it literally rains needles, then choose a different tree.
Lastly, a rare occurrence is that live Christmas trees can carry spiders, mites or aphids. Adults that were on the trees laid eggs in (mites) or on (aphids) the stems or foliage. The eggs will be dormant in cold weather but when introduced to the warm environment in your house, they will likely hatch. If you are concerned about insects, you can brush the tree with diatomaceous earth which will dry out any insects it comes in contact with. Be sure to wear a protective mask and eye protection because it is pulverized rock.
With all the rain we’ve had this year I would suspect very little damage from aphids. Mites, on the other hand, have been a consistent problem with growers. Growers that are aware of the problem would have used a good preventative spray. Avoid trees with stippling yellowish leaves as once inside the house they will hatch out and there’s nothing you can do other than to put the tree back outside. Here’s a good website with photos: http://www.saferbrand.com/articles/common-christmas-tree-bugs-how-to-get-rid-of-them.
If you use good common sense, selecting a live Christmas tree is a great tradition to pass down through the generations. Simply look over your tree not just for its nice form and shape but at its health. A not so perfect tree with good solid coloring is better than the perfect shaped tree with yellowing leaves. Large holes make great places to put ornaments on and once decorated they all look beautiful so enjoy the process of selecting a live tree.
If this has become a chore for you, call us so we can chat. Some of us are here drudging through paperwork and we would love the diversion. 🙂
P.O. Box 56 Andover, CT 06232