Real or Fake, cut or live, this is one debate that gets family members more riled up than the Turkey vrs Tofurky debate. I’ll try to shed a little light on the choices here to help your family choose the tree that works best for you.
We’ll start with live trees, the ones that will hopefully still be live when you’re finished being merry. There are a multitude of choices here from tiny table top trees to the huge, Honey, where is my forklift size. The most popular seem to be the Firs but you can pick just about anything. These trees must be gradually introduced to the indoors over a period of about 4-5 day and then phased back outside over the course of a week.
Keep them inside no longer than a week if you keep a warm house, up to 10 days if you are like my brother in law from Sweden and keep the house only slightly above being able to see your breath. If you like to put your tree up early…this is not the right choice for you. These trees come either potted or with a burlap wrapped rootball and they are fairly heavy. You will need a pot and a drip tray and will need to provide up to a gallon of water a day.
Generally come in Firs, Spruces and Pines and in many sizes. On the west coast, firs are by far the most common. The trees with the best needle retention are Noble Fir, Nordman Fir and Fraser Fir. The Firs tend to have larger spacing and very sturdy branches for those of you who have ornaments that weigh a ton and get lost towards the trunk when you try to place them on the tree.
Noble Firs are the premium christmas tree that everybody oohs and aaahs over when they see them. Nicely spaced branches, nice fragrance create the classic christmas tree image. Fraser and Balsam firs tend to be narrower, making them ideal for smaller spaces.
For a softer looking fuller tree for those of you who wisely chose lighter ornaments or who didn’t enroll your young children in claymaking class where they made festive anchors that cause the tree to list to the side.. there are Douglas Firs and Grand Firs.
A cool thing about the Grand Fir (limited supply this year) is that its needles smell like tangerine when crushed. Do not share this fact if you have a lot of people over at the time. Pick a tree that when you shake a branch, the needles stay on. Yes, you can shake our cut trees, just not our flocked ones…it will look festive with the snow going everywhere - but I’m pretty sure our head flocker Michelle will run you down.
You will need to recut about a half inch off of the end of the tree and then immediately place it on the watered stand or in a bucket of water if you aren’t quite ready to bring it inside.
The trees can drink over 4 litres of water in a 24hour period right after you recut them and about a litre a day after that. If you let them go dry, you will have to recut so that they can continue to absorb water. Make sure that when you decorate it and put the lights on you can easily add water to prevent having a Christmas Twig and festive pine needle mulch underfoot by Christmas day. Depending on the variety you choose, they can last up to a month inside.
Cut trees are a slow farm crop. They are rotated and replanted. The trees are chipped and the mulch is used in pathways or topdressing.
Or if you have blueberries or Rhododendrons, you can drag your tree outside to the garden, let all the needles fall of and then use the handy branches as bean poles or a trellis for your annual vines. One of our cool customers shared that nugget with me last spring!
Artificial trees – come in all shapes and sizes and some even come prelit. They last for a long, long time and are very light.
They do look lovely and do not need to be watered. A good choice if you aren’t able to top up the water almost every day. I inherited one. The branches are so old and flattened and sparse I have to fill the gaps with baby’s breath. It actually looks nice like that.
We call it Old Faithful. I am reluctant to let it go, but those festive clay decorations make it awfully wobbly. You can’t chip them and they add to our landfills. I may just hand over Old Faithful to my kids.
It brings back memories of lying under the Christmas tree looking up at all of the lights. You can do this with any of the trees you choose actually…I know it is silly but just try it…when no one is looking.
One final note: please keep your christmas trees away from heat sources and open flames, don't use cheap or frayed electrical cords and never leave the tree lit while away. It's always better to be safe than sorry!
I hope this helps! Have a Merry and Cozy Christmas!!