Enzo Cutrera, 4, and his father Vince look at frasier fir Christmas trees Friday afternoon at Mr. Whiskers on U.S. 61 South.

Archived Story

Pick the perfect tree

Published 12:00am Sunday, December 2, 2012

The National Christmas Tree Association recommends you remember these tips before picking out the perfect tree for your home.

• Measure the ceiling height in the room where you plan to display the tree. Measure the width of the room as well. Most commercially cut trees are trimmed on an 80 percent taper, so a tree that is 10 feet tall will be 8 feet wide at the bottom.

• Think about what type of decorations and ornaments you plan to use. Consider stiffer branches for heavier ornaments.

• Research different types of trees if you want to “branch out” from your traditional tree. Different species have different pros and cons.

• Ask the retailer when the trees arrived. A tree that was delivered at the beginning of the season may not be fresh enough to last through Christmas.

• Test the branches. Run a branch through your enclosed hand. The needles should not come off easily. Bend the outer branches; they should be pliable.

• Look for indicators of dryness, such as excessive needle loss, discolored foliage, musty odor, needle pliability and wrinkled bark. If in doubt about the freshness, don’t buy the tree.

The following trees are available locally. Information compiled from the National Christmas Tree Association and local retailers.

Fraser Fir

Sold locally at Wells Produce, Live Oak Nursery, Mr. Whiskers and Marie’s Trees.

Can range in price locally from $30 to $180.

Appearance: The branches turn slightly upward, forming a compact pyramid shape and are a dark, blue-green in color. It can reach 80 feet tall, but most sold locally climb only to 11 feet. Needles are flattened with two broad silvery-white bands on the bottom.

Longevity: If well cared for, the tree is hardy and will hold its needles throughout the Christmas season. “They will hold up longer than any other tree,” said Dan Wells, owner of Wells Produce in Natchez.

Wells puts his trees in a stand as soon as they arrive on the lot, keeping them watered until they are sold. Wells expects to have a good supply up until the week before Christmas, when the pickings usually get slim.


Scotch pine

Sold locally at Stine Lumber.

Available in 5- to 8-feet range for $20.

Appearance: The tree is bright green in color with tight branches.

Longevity: The needles won’t even fall when the tree is dry, making this the most common Christmas tree in America. The branches are stiff and hold heavy ornaments well.


Blue Spruce

Sold locally at Stine Lumber.

5 to 8 foot tree is $25.

Appearance: The bluish-gray color is the most distinguishing feature. Crushed needles can give off a bad odor. Tree has symmetrical form.

Longevity: Needle retention is good, meaning the tree will last through the season if cared for.


Douglas Fir

Sold locally at Stine Lumber.

Can range in price from $30 to $70.

Appearance: The tree has soft needles that are dark green, blue-green in color. Needles radiate in all directions and smell good when crushed. Branches spread and droop.

Longevity: Must be fresh and well-watered to last throughout the season.


Noble Fir

Sold locally at Stine Lumber.

Can range in price from $50 to $130.

Appearance: This tree is known for its beauty and upturned needles. Stiff branches hold ornaments well.

Longevity: Holds its needles well and lasts plenty long for the season.


Virgina pine

Sold locally at Marie’s Trees.

Can range in price from $20 to $50.

Appearance: Branches are dense and tree is a deep green in color.

Longevity: The tree is among the most popular Christmas trees in the South. Needle retention is strong.


Leyland Cypress

Sold locally at Marie’s Trees.

Can range in price from $30 to $90.

Appearance: This tree is dark green/gray in color and has very little smell. It does not produce sap.

Longevity: Branches are not strong enough for heavy ornaments, but will last through the season if tree is properly watered. Marie’s Trees also sells the tree’s cousin, Ovensii, which does have stronger branches.