What to Look for and How to Love Yours, Longer
We are in full festive mode over here at Kennedy’s with fresh shipments of Christmas trees and greenery arriving as we speak. We really hope you’ll find a little time in your day to slow down and get into the spirit.
But we don’t just hope you’ll visit us and find the perfect Christmas tree for you. We want you to love it as long as possible at home. So here’s what you should keep in mind when you choose and care for your Christmas tree:
Buy your tree early.
This probably goes against conventional wisdom, but the trees are already cut. They are sitting in tree lots and garden centers, and the wind and sun will only dry them out. When you buy yours early, you not only have more choices, you can store yours in a dark and cold garage, tool shed or screen porch to get it out of the strongest wind and sun.
Need help making sense of the varieties? Here’s a little guide to help you find your perfect match:
Considered the classic Christmas tree. The Balsam basically replaced the Scotch pine in popularity more than 40 years ago. Balsam Firs are native to the Northern New England states and Canada. We often see them growing on the side of ski slopes and my kids are probably tired of hearing me point them out! Many farmers and landowners trim their Balsam Firs and sell them as greens for wreaths, roping and greens this time of year.
As a Christmas tree, Balsams have a nice shape and are the most fragrant. And while Balsam Fir provides the best smell, they may drop needles faster than some of the other varieties—one of the tradeoffs. We recommend these trees for situations where you can put them up a bit later, keep them out of direct heat and don’t need them to last extra long.
Many people confuse these with Balsam Firs because they have a similar color. Fraser Firs are Native to North Carolina, and did you know The Blue Ridge Mountains are named after Fraser Firs? You’ll notice slightly deeper green needles on top and silver/white on bottom, giving them an almost bluish appearance.
Fraser Firs have become our most popular, traditional Christmas tree, with a slightly lighter scent than Balsams and a bigger window of freshness. Customers tell us, and I have witnessed this myself, that when they throw the trees in the woods after Christmas they are often still green in spring. That gives you an idea of their longevity.
Considered by many to be the King of Christmas trees. Noble Firs are native to the Pacific Northwest and have a tall, narrow growth habit. Pruning thickens them up a little. The distance they travel from the west coast is why they’re more expensive, but many customers find them to be very attractive, fragrant, long-lasting and worth the extra money. The Noble has thick green needles, strong and perfectly spaced branches. The very flat and rich blue greens from these trees are also used in our popular mixed wreaths and roping.
Kind of a quirky and hard to remember name, but they make beautiful Christmas Trees! Nordmann Firs are also grown at the same farms as the Nobles in the Pacific Northwest, but Nordmanns are native to Turkey.
This evergreen tree has more of a shiny green needle with white undersides. The Nordmann’s needles are so shiny, some people think they look too perfect to be real. We tried these one year when the demand for Noble Firs was higher than the supply and we’re glad we did.
Silver Fir or Double Balsam
This is our first year carrying Silvers. I’m actually not certain where they were grown. We decided to try a few last minute this year after selling Silver Fir wreaths for years because of the beautiful and long-lasting foliage.
As a Christmas tree, these have a medium traditional green color and are a cross between a Balsam Fir and Nordmann Fir. Even with limited experience, I’m fairly confident these will outlast a Balsam Fir in terms of freshness. They also don’t come with as high a price tag as some of the west coast trees.
Sorry to say we have no concolors again this year. We were the first and only one in the area for years to carry these, but they have been hard to come by the last couple years.
Concolors are valued for their distinctive long, shaggy blue needles that are surprisingly long lasting. My local (top secret) grower says he has some growing, so stay tuned in future seasons.
Make a fresh cut on the trunk.
After your tree is cut at the farm, the trunk dries up and forms a seal over the fresh wood. Re-cutting the bottom will open up the “veins” of the tree and allow the tree to take up water. It’s like trimming fresh cut flowers before you put them in water.
You’ll always receive a fresh cut before you leave Kennedy’s, but if you’re not putting your tree in water immediately, you’ll want to give it another fresh cut before you do.
Put your tree disposal bag on the tree before you put it in the stand.
Kennedy’s provides tree disposal bags with every tree purchase, and we advise using these preemptively. The best way to use them in our experience is to tear or cut a hole in the bag, slide the trunk through, then secure in your stand. The bag will act as a skirt under the tree (and can sit undetected under your pretty tree skirt of collar). After Christmas, pull the bag up over the tree to catch all the needles and save you some clean-up.
Make sure you have a sturdy stand.
The key to Christmas (and a healthy marriage) is a quality tree stand. Our Krinner Tree Genie stands are by far the easiest and most conflict-free.
Just set the trunk in the stand, step on the lever to tighten, then click the red button to lock it in. The Krinner also holds more water than you think. We recommend using a funnel (you can buy yours at Kennedy’s before you leave) to direct water into the base and not all over the carpet. But because our kids often water the tree, we also put a green plastic floor tray under our tree to be safe and catch any mistakes. The Tree Genie stand actually has a floating dipstick to tell you when the water is full or low, which can be really helpful.
Put your tree in warm water with tree preservative.
We recommend putting your tree in warm water for its first drink as soon as you get it home to keep the tree from forming a hard seal over the trunk and limiting water uptake. We’ll send you home with a free pack of tree preservative to add right away.
If you have it outside and in water, be aware the water might freeze. It makes it much harder to get your tree in the stand with ice on the trunk, so it may need some time to thaw.
For future watering, we recommend adding tree preservative every time you water, which can really prolong the freshness of the tree…as long you remember!
Have questions on choosing or caring for your tree?
Ask us when you come in! We would love to help you find the perfect tree for you and will send you on your way with everything you need to succeed and enjoy.