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Posted November 28, 2017 | 4:07 PM

Tips to Get Your Perfect Tree

Find the right live Christmas tree and keep it in good shape

The perfect Christmas tree helps set the stage for a fun and memorable holiday season.

If you plan to buy a live tree, take these steps to ensure your home's signature decoration meets expectations:

  • Decide what type of tree best suits your needs and budget. Some of those available this year on Hillsborough County lots include Frasier firs from North Carolina, balsam and Douglas firs from North Carolina and Michigan, and blue and white spruce from Michigan. Shop for a tree that fits the space where you envision placing it. Remember, the stand and any treetop decoration will increase its height, and the branches eventually will settle, expanding the tree's girth.
  • Freshness is essential to a tree's beauty and longevity. Does it appear healthy, and have an appealing scent? Are the needles green and supple, or brown and stiff? Tap the tree on the ground and run your fingers along a branch. Do countless needles fall off? If you're unsure of a tree's freshness, try a different one or go to another vendor.
  • After buying a tree, get the bottom of the trunk in water as fast as possible. To enhance water absorption, cut a 1-inch disk off the base of the tree immediately before mounting it in a stand. Keep the stand filled with fresh water. No additives are needed. If the bottom of the trunk becomes dry, it will seal and no longer will soak up water effectively.

Artificial trees retain their shape, don't need water, and save money over time. But they aren't recyclable and don't smell like fresh-cut trees. Pulling a box out the attic isn't as exciting as selecting and bringing home a real tree.

Commercially-grown Florida trees such as Southern red cedar and sand pine are another option. Cut ones are replaced - usually two or three are planted for each one felled - and, while alive, they add oxygen to the air, provide wildlife habitat, and increase soil stability. The trees can be hard to find, though, and sometimes lack the appearance and aroma of imported ones.