"Whether you're selecting a Scotch
pine, white pine, Douglas fir, Fraser fir or any other of the wide
variety of natural Christmas trees available, be selective," said
Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Joel Brunsvold.
"Choose a fresh tree that will retain its beauty and fragrance
through the holiday season, and make sure it is cared for properly
so it doesn't become a fire hazard."
Christmas trees grown in Illinois or
nearby states may have an advantage in that trees grown a great
distance away and trucked in for sale may have been cut weeks ago
and dried out significantly if exposed to wind and sun.
"Buyers should be careful when shopping
for a natural Christmas tree," Brunsvold said. "Ask the dealer when
the trees were cut, where they came from and how they were
transported and stored."
Illinois is home to hundreds of
Christmas tree farms, many of which provide buyers with a chance to
select a fresh-cut tree. Growers and state foresters say fresh
Christmas trees will shed very few green needles when shaken, though
the loss of brown interior needles is common.
Once a natural Christmas tree is
selected, foresters recommend the following to keep the tree as
fresh as possible when on display during the holidays:
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--If you cannot or do not want to bring
the tree indoors right away, keep it in a cool place such as a porch
or unheated garage.
--When you're ready to display and
decorate the tree, make a 1-inch cut from the base of the trunk to
allow the tree to more easily absorb water and resist drying.
--Place the tree in a sturdy stand that
holds at least a gallon of water. Replenish the water frequently,
since a healthy tree may use several quarts of water each day.
--Check Christmas tree lights to make
sure they are in proper working order and electrical cords are not
frayed. Use only UL-approved lights, and unplug the lights when no
one is at home and when you go to bed for the night.
--Keep the natural tree away from
fireplaces, wood stoves, furnace vents, space heaters and any
appliances that generate heat that could cause a fire or accelerate
holiday season, remove the lights and decorations and move the tree
outdoors for recycling or for use as a winter bird habitat.
Department of Natural Resources