Thanksgiving weekend is a traditional time for many folks to start the month-long Christmas celebration.  This means buying or harvesting a tree for your living room.  Cascade County Extension Agent Rose Malisani talked to KMON listeners about several factors to keep in mind.

Randy: On the phone with Rose Malisani, Cascade County Extension. And Christmas is right around the corner. That means people will be putting up some live Christmas trees. What are some of the things we need to know?

Rose Malisani: A lot of people are going to go out there and either cut their own Christmas tree or go get a Christmas tree at a lot. The one thing about keeping a tree really vibrant and green is to keep it wet. So, if you do buy a live tree and you go to a lot, and if that tree has been cut for over 12 hours, then you want to recut the bottom of the trunk and then put it into a base that holds about a gallon of water. Typically, trees need about a quart of water a day, and how you figure that out is you look at the diameter of the trunk. If the bottom of your trunk is six inches in diameter, then that tree will need six quarts of water a day. So, if you have a gallon holding pan in your stand, then that would be sufficient for your tree.

Randy: What are some of the telltale signs that your tree is not getting enough water?

Rose Malisani: The one thing is with all trees is when they take up the water from the xylem and phloem in the cambium layer, is that it's going to look at the top of the tree. And if those needles are a little bit fragile, if you touch them and they break, especially the ones on the outside of the tree, the ones that are inside of the tree, like towards the trunk. Trees normally drop those once a year, which is around this time of year. So, look at those, but also look at the needles on the tips of the trees and make sure they're supple and they're bendable. If they're fragile and they break, then you definitely want to bottle your tree.

Colorful decorated artificial Christmas tree
Jozsef Szasz-Fabian

Randy: I've heard of people putting sugar, putting all sorts of different things in the water. Is it straight water or is there other additives that we ought to consider adding?

Rose Malisani: The great thing with your tree, you can save your sugar for your sugar cookies and other desserts for Christmas. You just need to add plain water to your tree. Additives such as the flour packets or sugars or anything like that is unnecessary. They just mainly need water. Check your tree. Make sure that if you have a skirt around your tree that it's accessible, that you can get down there and take a look. If you forget about it and you have some lights on and you could have some dangerous times and you could go up in flames. Also, with trees there's a lot of recyclable places around Great Falls, especially where you can take your trees. And I know a lot of people send their trees there. And then those trees actually go into some river systems or ecosystems for fish. Also, if you have goats or sheep, it's a good forage for them to eat for a while. But disposing your tree is another thing to look into.

Randy: If people have questions, they need to know more. How do they get a hold of you?

Rose Malisani: You can get a hold of the Extension Office at 406-454-6980.


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