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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A Christmas tree that starts the holiday season fresh is more likely to hold its beauty through the first of the year, a University of Tennessee forester said Monday.

 Dr. Larry Tankersley of the UT Agricultural Extension Service suggested two ways to check tree freshness: — Bend a few needles. Fresh needles will bend, but if they break, the tree is too dry.

 — Lift the tree a few inches and drop it on its stump. It’s okay if a few interior needles fall to the ground, but the tree is too dry if a lot of outer needles drop off.

If picking a fresh tree is most important, keeping the tree well-watered is a close second, Tankersley said.

 As soon as possible after arriving home with the tree, cut off the first inch of the stump to make a fresh cut through which water can easily be absorbed.

“Then water immediately,” Tankersley said. “Plenty of clean, fresh water works as well as any additive in keeping the tree fresh.”

 Research at North Carolina State University showed that additives such as bleach or aspirin caused needle loss from Fraser firs, a popular Christmas tree, Tankersley said.


 Contact: Dr. Larry Tankersley (423-974-7164)