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Taking care of Christmas trees through yuletide
Ashley Hoppers ext agent
Ashley Hoppers is an Extension agent in Liberty County. - photo by File photo

Since Thanksgiving weekend I have noticed the most peculiar things happening in homes and throughout the landscapes of Coastal Georgia. Seemingly overnight, trees and shrubs are now adored with shining ornaments, lights and garlands. Wreathes and bows are popping up on doors and windows, and long strands of greenery are rapidly spreading across doorways and along fences. 

The trees and streets also seem to glow and sparkle at night! To the satisfaction of my rambling hound dogs, Susie Q and Maggie Mae, one of these glowing trees has even made it into our home. Could this mean that the holiday season is upon us? Given the clues, it does appear that Christmas Day is fast approaching. 

Not all of us celebrate holidays the same way, but many, if they haven’t already, will soon be on the hunt for the “perfect” Christmas tree. For those that have not yet found their perfect tree, you may be wondering what exactly to look for. Don’t worry, I can help. By following the following care and precaution measures, you should have a fresh, attractive tree and a holiday season free from Christmas tree mishaps. 

If you choose a live tree this year, then you can either buy from a ‘pick your own’ farm or go to a pre-cut lot. 

Trees tend to be fresher if you cut your own from a farm, while the advantage of a pre-cut lot is largely convenience; the trees are already cut and therefore faster to buy. Brewer’s Christmas Tree farm in Midway has both. You can either select and cut the perfect tree yourself from his farm, or choose one that has been pre-cut. Brewer’s also sells tree stands, so you can get everything you need for your tree all at once. 

If you decided to get a pre-cut tree, then it is very important to check its freshness. 

One quick and easy way to see if your tree is “fresh” is by running your fingers down a branch. The needles should adhere to the twig. Brittle branches and shedding needles are a sign of dryness. Fresh needles bent between the fingers should not break. Another way to test freshness is to lightly shake or bounce the tree on the ground. If only a few needles drop off, then with proper care it should stay fresh indoors throughout the holiday season. 

You should also check to be sure the limbs are strong enough to hold your ornaments and strings of electric lights. The tree should have a strong fragrance and a good, healthy green color. The base of the tree should be six to eight inches long and straight. Make sure that the base will fit easily into your tree stand. 

Before you bring your Christmas tree inside, check the limbs and needles for insects. 

Chances are that you will not find many bugs at this time of the year, but it’s always a good idea to look - just in case. Various insects will sometimes manage to escape the cold and then hitch a free ride inside your house if you aren’t careful. To prevent these hitchhikers from entering your home, simply prop your tree up outside and give it a good hosing off with water before bringing it inside. This not only eliminates insects, but dust and dirt as well. 

Be sure to let the tree dry thoroughly before bringing it inside and decorating with electrical lights and ornaments. If you don’t want to bother with hosing it off or if you just can’t wait to get the tree inside, try to give it several hard shakes. 

The best way to keep the tree fresh is to keep it well supplied with water. 

If you buy a pre-cut tree or if the stump has dried out, cut an inch off the base of the tree. Immediately put the tree in a bucket of water or into a stand with water. Once the stump is re-cut, do not allow it to stay out of water or let the water supply fall below the level of the cut stump. A tree can use several quarts of water a day, so check it frequently.

Be sure that the tree is well supported and located away from fireplaces, radiators, electric heaters, television sets or any other sources of heat. Heat not only poses a potential fire hazard, but it also dries out needles, causing them to brown and drop prematurely.

If you do choose a live tree this season, don’t forget to “Treecycle” it after the holiday! 

Trees are a renewable resource and there is an opportunity to give your Christmas tree another life by recycling it after the holiday.  This can be done locally at the “Bring One for the Chipper” annual event, which is sponsored by Keep Liberty Beautiful, the Georgia Power Company, the Georgia Forestry Commission, and Brewer’s Christmas Tree Farm. Be on the lookout for more information regarding this wonderful opportunity to recycle!

Lastly, UGA Extension is hosting a citrus production workshop on December 15th. If you want to grow your own citrus but you don’t know how to get started or if nutrition and freeze protection are things you need to learn more about, then you should consider signing up for the Georgia Citrus: Backyard Basics Workshop.

To learn more about Christmas tree care or to register for the Georgia Citrus Backyard Basics Workshop, please contact the Liberty County Extension office at 912-876-2133, email us at or come by the office at 100 Main St, Suite 1200, Hinesville. 

We are located on the first floor in the Historic Courthouse downtown. To keep up with Liberty ANR and 4-H, follow our Facebook Page at

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