It’s hard to believe, but it is nearly Thanksgiving again, let the holiday decorating begin. I know a lot of people go out on Thanksgiving weekend to pick out their Christmas tree for the holiday season. So, I thought it was a good time to discuss this holiday decoration.

Christmas Trees

According to the University of Illinois Extension, Christmas Trees came to the United States in 1747, when people in Pennsylvania decorated wooded pyramids with evergreen branches and candles. By 1850, decorated Christmas trees were a widely used tradition in America. The first Christmas tree farm was planted in 1901 by W.V. McGalliard, in response to the growing concern of over harvesting natural evergreen tree stands. Today, for every live Christmas tree that is harvested 1-3 seedlings are planted the following spring to replace those that were harvested and to account for early demise due to insect and disease issues. It is best to get a tree from a local grower to help with the local economy, but the top Christmas tree producing states are Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Washington. This information comes from Sarah Browning, Lancaster County Extension Educator.

Tree Selection

The most common tree species used for Christmas trees include: Balsam Fir, Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir, Noble Fir, Scotch Pine, Virginia Pine and White Pine. If you have a lot of heavy ornaments, look for a Fraser Fir, Scotch pine, blue spruce or Black Hills spruce because they have stiff branches that will hold ornaments better. Balsam Fir is the choice for those looking for a Christmas tree scent. White pines can be used for areas where you prefer softer needles.

When choosing your tree, assess the tree condition. Walk around the tree to look for holes in the branching. Slightly tug on the needles that are on the tree to ensure they are tightly attached to the tree and have some flexibility. If the needles fall off with limited tugging, they are not going to last long in your home. Also, give the tree a good shake, if green needles fall off or if it has a lighter green color that is not a fresh tree. Brown needles will naturally fall from the interior of the tree, that doesn’t mean there is a problem with it.

Home Care

When you take your tree home, make a new cut on the stump of the tree to ensure a flat surface to sit on and to open the pores at the base of the cut stump to allow water to flow through the tree. After cutting, be sure to place the tree into a bucket of water or into the stand with water immediately. If you do not plan to put your Christmas tree up in the home right away, place it in a cool, dark location, out of sunlight until you are able to put it in your home. Place the tree in a stand that holds at least 1 gallon of water and be sure to add water daily.

There are a lot of myths around adding things like sprite or aspirin to the water for your Christmas tree, however, research shows that just plain water works the best to ensure longevity for your tree. Just ensure that you maintain water in the tree stand at all times, once the tree runs out of water, those pores can start to clog again and this will reduce the life of your tree in your home for the holidays.

If you have any further questions please contact Nicole Stoner at (402) 223-1384,, visit the Gage County Extension website at, or like my facebook page at and follow me on twitter @Nikki_Stoner 

Nicole Stoner
Extension Educator
Gage County
November 2023