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Before the trimming, pick the right Christmas tree

Here are the basics when buying and caring for your tree this holiday season

Boy Dragging Christmas Tree
Reading Time: 2 minutes

More than two million Christmas trees are harvested in Canada each year, but if you don’t cut your own, check to make sure it’s fresh.

“When buying a Christmas tree, be sure to conduct a freshness test,” said provincial woodlot extension specialist Toso Bozic. “Grasp a branch between your thumb and forefinger and pull it towards you. If the tree is fresh, no more than five or 10 needles should come off in your hand, unless it is very cold and dry outside, and then a few more needles may come off.”

Here are some other Christmas tree tips:

  • Measure the height and width of the area where the tree will be displayed. Cultivated Christmas trees tend to have an 80 per cent taper. This means that a tree that is two metres tall will be approximately 1.6 metres wide (seven feet tall will be five feet, six inches wide) at the bottom.
  • Some species have more open foliage, stiffer branches or longer needles — find out about different species at
  • Look for a retail lot that keeps its Christmas trees fresh in a protected area.
  • Store the tree in a cool place, out of the wind and rain, until it is ready to be brought indoors.
  • Ensure your tree stand is large enough to hold four litres of water.
  • Cut one to two centimetres off the tree stump within four hours of placing it in water. (Otherwise sap will seal the cut and prevent the water from rising, thus drying out the tree.)
  • The first water fill should be with very warm water enabling the sap to flow readily. No additives are required. A tree will drink several litres of water every day for the first week or two.

“Safety is a consideration when having a real Christmas tree in the house,” said Bozic. “It’s a wonderful family tradition, but be sure to follow the instructions for keeping the tree watered so that it doesn’t dry out and present a fire hazard.”

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