A how-to for choosing and sustaining a live Christmas tree

Oh, Christmas tree!

Selecting a Christmas tree is a tradition that everyone in my family enjoys. We look, touch, feel and smell every tree. We finally agree on the tree with the widest base. My family thinks the wider the tree, the more presents will fit under it on Christmas morning. I like a wide tree for all the ornaments that we have collected over the years.

Here are some helpful hints for selecting and caring for a Christmas tree:

Purchase your Christmas tree as soon as possible for the best selection. Run your hands up and down the tree to make sure the needles are not falling out.

Have the salesperson make a fresh cut at least one inch above the last cut. Place the tree in the shade with the trunk in a bucket of water as soon as you arrive home. Keep the bucket full of water until you are ready to move the tree indoors.

Cover the floor with a waterproof sheet to protect your flooring and for a quick cleanup after Christmas. Balance and secure the tree in a tree stand with a generous water well. The tree will absorb a great deal of water the first few days. So check and fill the well frequently. Keeping the tree watered is the best way to keep it fireproof.

If you are interested in visiting a Christmas tree farm, go to the Texas Christmas Tree Growers Association website, Select "locate" and a map of Texas will appear; click on the Fort Worth area and all Christmas farms close to Fort Worth appear, along with contact information.

Dotty Woodson is the water resources specialist at the Texas AgriLife Extension Service. Reach her at 972-231-5362 or