Tips for Picking Out the Best Christmas Tree and Keeping it Fresh All Season

CUMMING, Iowa -- Now that Thanksgiving is over and the fall season is on it’s way out, it’s time to dust off the holiday decorations.

The warmer weather for the last week of November will make it a great time for outdoor decorating and picking out a real Christmas tree.

Jenny Howell, Co-Owner of Howell Tree Farm, said one of the key factors to picking out a good tree is making sure the pine needles don’t snap in half when you feel it.

“You want a tree that will fit your spot. You’ll want to measure it with your body. They always look bigger when you get them home than they do in the field. You’ll want to feel it with your hand to make sure it feels nice and fresh. If you go to the lot you might want to shake it a little bit and see if the needles fall off,” Howell said.

According to the National Christmas Tree Association there is a nationwide Christmas tree shortage due to the amount of time it takes for a tree to grow tall enough for retail, which is mostly to blame for the smaller selection and higher prices.

Howell said it takes about seven to ten years for a tree to grow to be cutting size and the tree shortage is happening to other farmers for economic reasons and not being able to plant as many trees years ago.

“If we have a tree shortage it’s often due to weather related issues. Next years trees are going to be a little bit shorter because we had to replant some and they didn’t have as much time to grow,” Howell said.

Howell said they have hundreds of trees to choose from including scotch pine, white pine and canaan fir trees.

“In my opinion the white pine and firs smell the best. When you take the tree home and get it inside and it warms up, it will release more fragrance,” Howell said.

Howell also has some tree care tips:

  • Use lukewarm water instead of cold water. The warmth of the water will warm up the sap and allow the tree to soak up more.
  • If the water gets cloudy or sludgy dump it out and put fresh water in.
  • Make sure part of the trunk is cut off before you take it home.
  • Keep the tree away from vents and fireplaces to prevent it from drying out.

Howell said the canaan firs are $10 per foot and the pines are $7 per foot.

Howell Tree Farm is open from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. until December 23.