While some opt for the ease of an artificial tree and greenery that can be used year after year and passed
down to kids and grandkids, there is just something about a real tree and fresh cut greenery that brightens up the home at Christmas.
Native trees such as pines (shortleaf, longleaf, loblolly, and slash), Eastern Redcedar (which is actually a juniper) and even cultivated plants such as Leyland Cypress can be used to create wreaths, swags, garlands and more! Once cut, these clippings stay green for about two weeks. You can use florist wire to bind the clippings together in whatever shape you choose. For accent, consider adding some nandina berries, pine cones, dried grasses and other natural materials you may find in your yard.
Decorations made by Fulton County Extension
Employees this year.
If you choose to purchase a cut tree, make sure you follow steps to keep it as healthy as you can for as long as possible. First, decide on where on an appropriate place to put the tree. Do you want it to be seen from all sides or would you rather it against a wall or window? Always make sure that heat sources, such as TVs, fireplaces, radiators and air ducts are nowhere near the tree, and put the tree in an area that doesn’t interfere with doors or common foot traffic. Always measure the height and width of the space you have available in the room where you want the tree to go. Nothing is worse than picking and paying for the perfect tree and hauling it home on top of your car or in your truck, only to find it will not fit anywhere in your house. Have a tape measure handy to determine the height of the tree you want, and always bring some extra cord to tie the tree down with in case the tree farm does not have any extra.
Many trees sold on retail lots may have come from out of state and been exposed to harsh conditions on the journey to their destination. They may have been cut weeks prior to when they are sold, and they are probably stressed by the time they make it to market. It is always good to know whether the trees are delivered once at the beginning of the season or are they delivered at different times during the selling season. The earlier and fresher you can get a tree, the better. Fresh trees have a healthy green appearance with very few browning needles. The needles should be flexible but not fall off if you run them through your hand. You can also raise the tree off the stand a little and let it drop. If a bunch of needles drop off, it might not last as long as you want it to. However, it is totally normal for a few needles to fall off and some near the trunk may be brown. The majority of the tree should always be bright green and fragrant, though. Don’t forget to check for little hitchhikers as well! Bagworm moths and scale insects are common on Christmas trees. While they pose no threat to humans, they are pests and can lead to unsightly problems.
When choosing your tree, keep in mind the place you’ve decided to put your tree and choose a tree that’s appropriate. For example, if you want to place your tree against a wall, it is okay if some branches on one side are a little damaged, or there is a bald spot. If you place it in a corner, you may even want more branches to be toward one side or another. This approach can help you save time and money, because it can take a long time to find the perfect tree, and prettier trees are almost always more expensive. Once you’ve decided on a tree, make sure that the bottom of the trunk has at least six to eight inches of clean bark with no branches. Always make sure it is watered to make it last longer. The more water a tree has, the less dry it is, and the less of a fire hazard it is.
For more information on Christmas trees and native evergreens, contact the Fulton County Extension Office.