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Pat Sullivan: Selecting and maintaining a live Christmas tree

The first weekend in December is typically a good time for cutting or buying a fresh Christmas tree.

INDIANAPOLIS — Last week on 13Sunrise, Pat Sullivan of Sullivan Hardware and Garden explained how to set up artificial Christmas trees. This week, Sullivan explained the nuances of live and fresh-cut trees because the first weekend in December is typically a good time for cutting or buying that fresh Christmas tree. 

A fresh tree should last through the holidays without drying out and becoming a home hazard as long you care for the tree and keep it watered.

Sullivan explained how some of the varieties of evergreen trees can provide a stronger aroma in your house while others are better to hold up lights, ornaments and other decorations.

A Scotch pine, for instance, has been known for years as "America's Christmas tree," according to Sullivan. But Sullivan shared a trade secret about the tree — it's often sprayed with dye to provide its green color. 

Recently, the Fraser fir has grown in popularity. "Fraser's known for...needle retention," said Sullivan. "It's a beautiful tree. Strong branches."

A Douglas fir will provide the strongest evergreen aroma, Sullivan said.

The short supply of live trees has driven up prices, according to Sullivan, especially in the popular 6'-7' foot heights.

If you find a shorter tree you like, Sullivan suggested building a platform box to elevate that tree to reach closer to your desired height.

Trunk care and watering

Preparing and maintaining the tree's trunk is vital to keeping it moist for the rest of the season. Timing is important, because a fresh tree will still make sap along its cut line, and that will hinder the tree's ability to draw moisture if you wait too long to set the three in its stand and water it.

If you buy a cut tree from a lot, Sullivan recommends cutting a few more inches off the base to expose a fresh section that will suck up water at a higher rate.

Leaving on a tree's bark is also important because bark also wicks moisture from the stand into the tree.

Watch Pat's full 13Sunrise segment in the video player.

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