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Johnson County

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Johnson County
11811 S. Sunset Drive
Suite 1500
Olathe, KS 66061

Office Hours:

Monday - Friday,
8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

(913) 715-7000
(913) 715-7005 fax

Map to our office

K-State Research and Extension is committed to making its services, activities and programs accessible to all participants. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities may be requested by contacting Johnson County Extension at (913)715-7000. Notify staff of accommodation needs as early as possible.

Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service

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Selecting a Christmas Tree

Return to Trees and Shrubs Agent Articles

  • Placement inside the home determines tree selection
  • Proper care will help keep the tree fresh
  • Additives are not necessary

Christmas trees on a lot

When it comes to the Christmas season, most of us have strong opinions about what type of tree will take center stage in our homes.

A live tree has the right feel, look and smell of Christmas. Live trees are a renewable resource that helps promote American agriculture. Artificial trees are made from plastic. A live tree supports small independent growers, not some retail giant that sees the holiday season as another means toward improving its corporate profits. But for some families, allergies or a hectic holiday traveling schedule make a real tree difficult to manage. So the plastic tree is the best choice.

For those who do purchase a real tree, wandering through a couple of tree lots dreaming about what could be, and the fun of putting up and decorating the tree are among the happiest moments of the Christmas season. There is something about looking at tree after tree for the one that is just perfect. Each person has different needs when picking out a tree. Finding that “just right” tree is in the eye of the beholder.

Size matters
Before loading up the family and heading to the tree lot, there are a few details that must be worked out. Most important, the size of the tree must be determined. How tall and wide can the tree be for your location? Keep in mind that trees look really small in wide-open spaces. Once indoors, they have a habit of suddenly growing too big for their designated space.

Location in the home
In addition to size, it is important to think about where the tree will be located. In very few instances is the tree viewed from all sides. In many homes, the tree is placed in a corner or along a wall. This is important information in the selection process. The tree with a bare side may be the best choice, as it will fit nicely along the wall taking up less space. It is difficult to find a tree with four good sides, but often two or three nice sides will do the trick.

Christmas tree care

Cut off base of a Christmas tree

After making your purchase, the next step is taking proper care of the tree. Before placing the tree in the stand, cut off about 1 inch of the trunk and immediately place in the stand with warm water.

It is important that the tree has a constant supply of water while in the home to maintain freshness. If water uptake slows, use hot water to increase uptake.

Additives such as bleach, aspirin or other products are not needed as the tree only needs water.

How long will the Christmas tree stay fresh?
There are many different species of live trees on the market, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Most trees will remain fresh for three to four weeks. After that point, the needles will start to dry, and the tree will often shed. Keeping the tree out of heat drafts also will increase the life of the tree.

Christmas trees are the center of holiday decorating and festive activities. What is really important is not whether the tree is real or fake, but that love and family joy surround the tree.

K-State Research and Extension Johnson County Master Gardener logo

Have questions? The Garden Hotline is staffed by trained EMG volunteers and Extension staff who will assist you with questions.

Phone: (913) 715-7050

Email: garden.help@jocogov.org