The Great Christmas Tree HuntTree Selection And Care Tips From The Morton Arboretum
LISLE, IL (November 13, 2008) – Solve the mystery of finding the perfect Christmas tree this holiday season. Doris Taylor, plant information specialist at The Morton Arboretum, is on the case. She shares selection and care guidelines that can unlock the secrets and help you tap your inner Sherlock Holmes, (minus the pipe…unless that’s your thing.)
“As you begin to search for that perfect tree, look for signs of freshness that can help keep your tree attractive through the holidays,” said Taylor.
Follow The Morton Arboretum tree-selection guidelines.
First, be sure to time your tree purchase right. A fresh tree can last up to three weeks in a home environment, according to Taylor. Then scout out the best location for the tree. Choose a place away from fireplaces, hot air vents, televisions, candles or other heat sources that can dry out the tree or cause needles to drop.
At the tree lot, pay attention to tree names. They can give you clues about aroma, color and needle retention.
Scots pine trees have dark green foliage and stiff branches. These have excellent needle retention.
Eastern white pine trees usually have dense, medium-green foliage with fairly long needles. These trees typically retain their needles very well.
Douglas-firs have soft, flat, short green needles. When crushed they give a sweet camphor smell. Very good needle retention.
Balsam firs have dense, dark green foliage. They have a pretty pyramid shape, often with a spindly top. They have a pleasing evergreen scent. Very good needle retention.
White firs have soft, 2-inch long, blue-green foliage that curves outward and upward on branches. When crushed, needles give off a strong lemon scent. Very good needle retention.
White spruce trees have, short, blunt, grayish, blue-green needles and a nice, natural cone shape. Some people may find their scent unpleasant. Poor needle retention.
Colorado spruce trees have gray-green to blue-green, 1-3-inch needles that are stiff and prickly. Crushed needles emit a resin-like scent. The trees have a pleasing, symmetrical form. Poor needle retention.
When examining trees, check that needles are pliable, fragrant and attached, said Taylor. Look for full, bushy branches that are strong enough to support ornaments. The cut end of the tree should be sticky with sap. Pound it onto the ground and watch for needles to fall off. If many do, try another tree.
Finally, check to see if dye rubs off on your hands. “It’s not unusual to have a blue-green dye applied to the leaves with an anti-desiccant to help keep leaves pliable or to mask the color of leaves drying out,” said Taylor.
Once home, prolong the tree’s “life” by making a fresh cut off the bottom of the trunk and immediately putting it in a bucket of water. A tree can “drink” up to a gallon of water a day, so check water levels often. The best research says to use plain water, according to Taylor. Aspirin or soft drinks don’t work to prolong freshness, and neither will flower fertilizer.
If you need to trim the branches for a better shape or to create more places for ornaments, consider laying the trimmings on your perennial or bulb flower beds as mulch.
Congratulations! Your powers of observation and keen eye for details will help your tree stay attractive through the holidays.
The Morton Arboretum is an internationally recognized 1,700-acre outdoor museum with collections of 4,117 kinds of trees, shrubs, and other plants from around the world. The Arboretum's beautiful natural landscapes, gardens, research and education programs, and year-round family activities support its mission – the planting and conservation of trees and other plants for a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world. Conveniently located at I-88 and Rte. 53 in Lisle, Illinois, the Arboretum is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central Time or sunset, whichever is earlier. The Children's Garden is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., March through October, and 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., November through February. Visit www.mortonarb.org, click About, and then Press Room, or call to learn more.