14 Sep 2014
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Picking Your Perfect Tree (and Keeping It Alive For Christmas)

Local merchants tell you everything you need to know about selecting and caring for your Christmas tree.

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree...thy leaves are so unchanging..

This may be the line in this popular Christmas carol, but the fact is, if you don't take proper care of your tree, those needles could be brown or on the ground by the time Dec. 25 arrives.

Plus, since this song was penned, the process of picking out your Christmas tree has changed also, as consumers have more choices than ever. To help you select the one that's right for you and keep it alive for Christmas, Patch visited some of our local merchants who are selling trees this season. Here's what we learned.

  • Picking Your Perfect Tree: There are three different types of trees available at local merchants.
  1. Balsam Fir: "This is your standard Christmas tree, It's been around for a long time," says Dave Kopper, of Giordano's Garden Shoppe in West Hempstead. "They smell most like Christmas." Joseph Rossi, of Cross Island Fruits, located just across the Malverne-Lynbrook border, says these trees are known for their heavy pine scent and strong branches, but they can "make a big mess...the needles tend to fall." They are also usually the least expensive.
  2. Douglas Fir: These trees are a lighter shade of green, have long needles and very soft branches. "If you have a lot of ornaments or heavy ornaments you'll want to veer away from them," Rossi says, "but if want to just put bows and lights on the tree it's pretty. They tend to have the best shape out of all the trees...more symmetrical."
  3. Fraser Fir: Rossi calls the Fraser Firs "the Cadillac of Christmas trees." They are usually the most expensive, but they have the strongest branches, and last the longest. Nick Kapsoures, of Westminster Nursery and Garden Center, says they can last as long as six weeks. "They have better needle retention," and can handle the "shock" of bringing them from a cold outdoor climate to inside your warm home, he added.
  • Caring For Your Tree: There are steps you can take to ensure your tree stays green and bright throughout the holiday season, possible even till late January.
  1. Quench Its Thirst: "As soon as you buy it, take it home and put it in water," Kopper says. "They are very thirsty. When we first sell the tree we give it a fresh cut, so the water will absorb very quickly." Rossi recommends giving the tree lukewarm water and to replenish its supply of H2O daily in those intial days. "It's going to drink a lot of water in the beginning and then it will taper off," he says. 
  2. Give It Time to Adjust: Kapsoures suggests giving your tree time to acclimate to warmer temperatures by setting it up in the garage first, with water ofcourse. Then, after a few days bring it in the house. This is especially important if you keep your house very warm and if you've purchased a Balsam, which is more sensitive to the climate changes.
  3. Keep It Away From Heat: The coolest room is your house is the best place to put your tree. "Keep it away from the heat source, especially the Balsam since they dry out more," Kapsoures says. This includes any fireplaces or radiators.
  4. Give It A "Vacation": Giordano's carries a special product called Vacation, which claims that it will allow you to get away with only watering your tree once in a span of two weeks. You may consider purchasing this if you plan to go away during the holidays and do not want to return home to a dead tree. "The leaves of an evergreen breathe ,but the product closes the little pores in the leaves so the tree doesn't tranpsire anymore moisture," Kopper explained. All you need is one pint of Vacation ($9.99)  - one container makes a gallon of water - and your Christmas tree will become more like a cactus. 
  5. No Pills Neccessary: "There's an old wives tale of putting aspirin in the water, but my tree never had a headache, so I didn't try it," Kapsoures says. The same goes for sugar and tea bags, he added. "As long as it gets water it will be fine."
  • Where to Buy: Now that you know the different types of trees out there, here's where you can find them close to home.
  1. located at 357 Hempstead Avenue in West Hempstead carries Baslam, Douglas and Fraser Firs ranging from 6 ft. to 12 ft. and costing anywhere from $35 to more than $100 for some of the larger ones. (Also, ask about their special "Stand Staight" system, which guarantees your tree will stand perfectly upright.)
  2. located at 30 Westminster Road in West Hempstead carries Baslam and Fraser Firs ranging between $30 and $200 for some of the 10-12 ft. trees.
  3. Cross Island Fruits located at 246 Hempstead Avenue in Lynbrook carries Baslam, Douglas and Fraser Firs starting at $29.

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