Selecting the perfect evergreen

Experts weigh-in on Christmas tree care, selection

Whether searching for a pre-cut tree or heading out to a choose-and-cut farm, there are many different types of trees to buy. This was taken at the Trinity Men's Club lot at Oak and Fifth streets in Manistee. (Ashlyn Korienek/News Advocate)

Whether searching for a pre-cut tree or heading out to a choose-and-cut farm, there are many different types of trees to buy. This was taken at the Trinity Men’s Club lot at Oak and Fifth streets in Manistee. (Ashlyn Korienek/News Advocate)

MANISTEE COUNTY — While the days until Christmas are dwindling, residents are out buying and decorating the perfect tree — a staple of holiday traditions to many.

Local businesses and organizations are also offering tree sales, with a variety of options to choose from.

However, those out buying are often unsure of what fits their family the best and, if buying a live tree, maintenance is especially important for both aesthetic and safety purposes.

Whether searching for a pre-cut tree at a local lot or heading out to a choose-and-cut location, there are many different types of trees that offer different visual experiences, and varying in size, shape or color.

According to the Michigan State University (MSU) Extension, the  main types of “Christmas” trees grown in Michigan include: Fraser fir, Scots pine, Douglas fir, Blue spruce, Black hills spruce, White pine, Balsam fir, Concolor fir, Korean fir, and Canaan fir.

According to the MSU Extension, there are many trees that are popular, and can be found at most choose-and-cut farms or tree lots.

• The Fraser fir is increasing in popularity. This tree has blue-green needles and appears silvery underneath. The branches are sturdy enough to hold decorations, and the scent is pleasant for those who want a fresh tree;

• The Scots pine is said to offer a different experience. This species is said to have “long defined” the Michigan Christmas tree. Scots pines are dense, and appear to have dark green needles, with stiff branches that have great needle retention;

• Douglas firs are known to be a softer tree, with light green needles. Ornaments, however, need to be lighter in weight due to the less sturdy branches. However, they are said to be more cost effective;

• Blue spruces are popular due to the appealing, unique bright blue color. The branches are sturdy, but the needles are sharp. While the needles make this tree difficult to transport, pets are typically not fond of the sharp branches;

• The Black Hills spruce is unique in that the needles are shorter and softer than the Colorado Blue spruce. However, the color makes it a traditional Christmas tree. The branches are also sturdy;

• White pines are one of two Michigan native conifers used traditionally as Christmas trees. The tree is more dense, with soft green needles that require light-weight ornaments. These trees are best for spaces with high ceilings;

• The Balsam fir has a strong Christmas tree scent, and adorns a dark green appearance that is loved by many consumers;

• Concolor firs have longer needles, and may be as blue as the Blue Spruce. However, the strong, citrus-like scent makes it a different experience for consumers;

• Korean fir is native to Asia, and grows well in Michigan’s climate and soil. The tree has dark green needles with silvery undersides, and has a unique form and texture that makes it unlike any other; and

• The Canaan fir has many characteristics of a balsam fir, however it has better needle retention like a Fraser fir. Experts say it is often described as a hybrid between balsam fir and Fraser fir, but is actually a specific seed source from balsam fir of the Canaan Valley of West Virginia.

When buying a tree, experts from the MSU Extension and Michigan Christmas Tree Association (MCTA) suggest selecting a location beforehand, which is away from any heat sources. Then, decide where to get the tree.

Choose-and-cut farms typically have more manageable sizes.

Keep your tree fresh and hydrated, and do not put the tree up in the house immediately. First, store it in an outdoor space that is unheated, and place the cut end of the trunk in a bucket of water until it is ready to place indoors.

Experts also say to gently pull on the end of a branch with the thumb and forefinger, as fresh trees should hold onto needles. If a tree loses needles, keep looking for a tree.

When disposing of the tree, plan to recycle it at the end of the holidays. If there is not way to do that, make it into mulch or use it as yard waste.

The MCTA has more tips at mcta.org.

Bert Cregg, of the MSU Extension Departments of Horticulture and Forestry, and Jill O’Donnell, MSU Extension, contributed to this report. 

Christmas tree directory:

• Calvin Lutz Farms — U-cut or fresh cut trees and wreaths. Open from 1 p.m. to dusk on Thursdays and Fridays; 10 a.m. until dusk on Saturdays and Sundays; and located three miles east of U.S. 31 on 13 Mile Road. Second location is three miles east of U.S. 31 and 9 Mile Road and south on Chief Road (one quarter mile).

• Osborn’s Sports Shop — Seven varieties of trees. Open from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays; and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays. Located in Bear Lake;

• Trinity Men’s Club at Oak and Fifth streets in Manistee, selling fresh cut trees and wreaths. Hours are 3-8 p.m. on weekdays; 9 a.m. to 8 pm. on Saturdays; and noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays;

• Nickelson’s Premium Christmas Trees — U-cut available and fresh cut varieties. Open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, located at 4075 W. Hansen Road;

• Meister’s Evergreen — Fresh cut or u-cut varieties, and decorated wreaths. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Located at 8 Mile Road at Anderson, two miles east of U.S. 31; and

• Old Uncle Mike’s Christmas Trees — Several kinds of trees, located at the South Side Plaza at the corner of U.S. 31 and M-115 (east). Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

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Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

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