December 22, 2014

Elyria
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Finding the perfect tree: Size, other factors matter

ELYRIA – Although getting a live Christmas tree for the holiday season is a tradition for many families, it isn`t necessarily a simple process.

In addition to all of the planning, purchasing, possibly cutting and transporting, there`s also the matter of decorating, all of which can be a hassle. Trees should be chosen not only by the size of the room they`ll be set up in but also by the size of the tree itself.

But one thing most people might not consider is the type of Christmas tree they`re buying for their home.

There are several types of trees common to the area, including various pine, fir and spruce trees. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, the most popular trees are the Scotch pine, Douglas fir and Fraser fir.

But although the trees may look the same, they are actually very different

Pat Sell, owner of Sell`s Christmas Tree and Reindeer Farm in Wakeman, said that while the trees are similar in color and the way that they retain their needles through the winter, the similarities end there.

“If you looked at a dogwood tree and a maplewood tree, you`d see that they`re very different,” Sells said. “It`s the same with Christmas trees.”

Trees vary based on their color, branch formation, texture and length of the needle. Trees like the white pine have long, soft needles that are ideal for lighter ornaments. Others, such as the spruce tree, have prickly needles that are best for heavier ornaments.

And since not all trees are alike, there is also a difference in the way each tree survives during the holiday season.

Trees including the Norway spruce, for example, should be cut about a week before Christmas, Sells said. Other trees such as the white pine or any of the firs can be cut now, and should make it through the holidays.

Ed Westgate, owner of Westgate Tree Farm in Avon, said the Fraser fir is known for being long-lasting.

“It doesn`t drop the needles, and it`s very fragrant,” he said.

However, the most important factor in determining how the tree will hold up for the holidays is how the tree is taken care of once it is cut down and set up in a base indoors.

“We tell people to keep them in water between now and Christmas,” said Fred Heyse of Fred`s Tree Farm in Valley City.

Buyers are told to keep their tree away from heat sources that could dry it out, such as heat vents and fireplaces.

Another key element in taking care of the tree is monitoring the water in the base. The water must be changed frequently, as dust and bacteria in the air can get into it and eventually cause the tree to die.

“The reason a tree stops taking up water is (because of the) bacteria in the water,” Sells said.

She recommends that the water be changed frequently to ensure a healthy life for the tree.

Sells said that spruce trees tend to have shorter lives. It`s best to discard them after New Year`s, she said.

With proper care, however, a Christmas tree can sustain a long life once it`s cut down from the farm. Depending on the type of tree, some may last for months following the holiday season.

“I had a woman call me in June with a fir, and she had just taken her tree out,” Sells said.

Contact Kristen Halliday at 653-6285 or khalliday@chroniclet.com.