Expert Tips to Make the Memory Last 

The experience of selecting and cutting your own tree is one that you and your family will always remember.​ ​​

Christmas trees are a traditional part of the festive holiday season, and for many people the scent of a fresh cut tree invigorates the spirit of the season. The most popular trees grown in Tennessee are Virginia pine, eastern white pine, eastern red cedar, Fraser fir and Scotch pine, according to Wayne Clatterbuck, a professor of forest management and silviculture with University of Tennessee Extension. These and many other trees imported from other states will be available at various retail locations through the holiday season.

Clatterbuck offers these tips for consumers on choosing and maintaining a fresh cut Christmas tree:

Measure the dimensions of your space. Don’t forget the ceiling height of the area where the tree will be placed before buying the tree. This will help you select the right size and shape of tree.

The easiest method to obtain a fresh tree is to cut one from a Tennessee Christmas tree grower. The experience of selecting and cutting your own tree is one that you and your family will always remember. For a directory of Christmas tree growers, visit the Tennessee Department of Agriculture website:

Trees in Christmas tree lots may have been cut 4 to 6 weeks before they appear on the lot. Make sure to test the tree for freshness by placing a branch between the thumb and forefinger of your hand. Pull your hand toward you allowing the branch to slip through your fingers. The needles should bend but not break, and adhere to the branch. If they fall off in your hand, the tree may not be fresh enough. A second test is to lift the tree a few inches off the ground and drop it on the stump end. Some interior brown needles should fall, but if green needles fall in abundance, find another tree.

To keep your tree fresh, cut one-half to 1 inch off the bottom of the trunk. Immediately place the stump end in water. Keep water in the tree stand at all times. A cut tree can absorb 2 or 3 quarts of water the first day indoors. If the base of the tree dries out, sap from the tree will form a seal that will not allow water absorption. Water additives to enhance the “freshness” of the tree are not recommended. Only use clean water in your tree stand.

The tree should be placed in a cool area. Keep your tree away from fireplaces, heat registers, radiators, heaters and televisions.

On another note, Clatterbuck recommends that homeowners inspect their Christmas tree lights for broken insulation or faulty sockets each year. Always unplug tree lights when you are away from home and before you go to bed.

The National Christmas Tree Association website is a wonderful source of information on Christmas trees:  Choose the “Education” subheading for information about Christmas trees.

For more information contact your local county Extension office.

Through its mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions.



Wayne K. Clatterbuck, Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, 865-974-7346,