2017-12-06 / Front Page

Oh, Tanenbaum: Tall Tales And Making Choices

By Liz Goff

Did you know it takes nine years for saplings to grow into traditional Christmas trees? Each acre of land used to grow the Christmas symbols provides the daily oxygen requirement for 18 people!

Christmas tree farms throughout the country are raising prices on the festive firs and spruces this season due to a tree shortage that took root during the Great Recession of 2008. Tree sales were so poor back then that farmers didn’t have room to plant new trees, experts said. “Since it can take at least nine years for trees to grow, there is currently a shortage of many varieties.”

New Yorkers are expected to feel less of a shortage, experts said. So Christmas trees will be sprouting up all over Queens this year, appearing overnight on local sidewalks, in supermarkets and warehouse outlets.

The Gazette has compiled the following list of Christmas trees to help you choose the perfect spruce for your needs this holiday season:

A variety of trees will be available at Queens retailers this year. Trees in all shapes, sizes and price ranges, including the Douglas Fir, the Shearded Balsam, Scotch Pines, Spruces, Norway Spruces and the “Fat Albert,” also known as the Colorado Blue Spruce. The holiday trees arrive in Queens on open-air trucks from Oregon, Nova Scotia, South Carolina and Quebec, Canada, a retail group said.

The Douglas Fir grows from the center of its branches to the tips, making it a very “full” tree, experts said. The strong branches and spaciousness of a Shearded Balsam make it an ideal tree to spruce up large areas and the Shearded Balsam has a stronger scent than other Christmas trees, making it one of the most popular indoor trees.

Douglas Firs are grown on the Eastern coast of the United States and Shearded Balsams are grown in Canada, while Nova Scotia and Fraiser Firs are native to North Carolina.

If the lifespan of your tree is a priority, retailers suggest the Nova Scotia Canadian Balsam, simply because it lasts longer than other trees. Retailers in Astoria said the best way to make sure your tree will last throughout the holidays is to make sure it is very fresh when you buy it.

When you find your tree, take hold of a branch and run your hand across it to make sure it doesn’t lose a lot of needles, a local retailer said. If the tree feels too light for its size, it could be on its way to the mulch pile – and if its branches don’t “snap” back when you test them, the tree is getting stale, retailers said.

Under the right conditions, the lifetime of an indoor tree is four to six weeks. Make sure the base of the tree is cut just before you haul it home, and put it into water as soon as you get home.

Experts recommend that you place the tree in hot water with a few tablespoons of sugar when you get home – and leave it there for two-to-three days. After that, keep the tree in lukewarm water, experts said.

Keep the tree away from radiators and other heat sources. You might also want to put a pot of water on a radiator to increase the level of humidity in your home or apartment. Trees stored in hot, dry places shrivel up and die faster than others, the experts said.

Retailers in Astoria tell customers to carry the tree into their residence “trunk first” to avoid breaking branches

The price of street trees in Astoria and Long Island City vary according to size, type of tree and vendor. Prices range from $20 to $60, roughly $8 to $10 per foot, experts said.

When buying a tree, don’t be afraid to ask where it was grown. That information can give you some insight on how to care for the tree at home, experts said.

A different trend is gaining popularity with homeowners in Queens, retailers said. Folks are buying uncut trees with roots wrapped in burlap, which continue to grow and can be planted when the holidays are over.

Many people think ahead and dig a hole for the tree before the ground freezes over, retailers said. “It’s something young couples and newlyweds are doing, so they can keep their first tree.”

Shoppers who dread braving the cold to select a Christmas tree can order from the warmth and comfort of their own home this year. Find your favorite fir online at www.GreenValleyChristmasTrees.com. - a new, California based business offering trees up to 9-feet tall. Delivery is guaranteed in three to five days.

Trees are hand-selected and shipped free of charge directly to your address of choice by Fed Ex, at prices ranging up to $150, depending on size and type of tree.

Here are some little known tree facts:

  • Each year, the trunk of the Radio City Christmas tree is donated to the U.S. Equestrian Team for use as an obstacle in training exercises.
  • The first national tree appeared on the White House lawn in 1933
  • Christmas trees in Brazil are decorated with cotton to resemble snow, since temperatures soar to 90-degrees here.
  • The first department store tree appeared in – where else – Macy’s in 1902
  • Christmas trees must be imported to Greenland because trees can’t grow that far north of the globe
  • For each Christmas tree cut in the U.S. each year, three trees are planted
  • The first Christmas tree lights were invented in 1882 by Edward Johnson, assistant to Thomas Edison
  • The first Christmas tree lights were sold in 1903 by the General Electric Company
  • The tallest Rockefeller Center tree, to date, was a 100-foot Norway Spruce donated by a Connecticut family in 1948 

Trees are not the only holiday items for sale by street retailers. Besides trees, you can purchase a variety of wreaths, pine boughs, garland, ornaments, seasonal plants, holiday lights, decorations and other paraphernalia, including a liquid solution that keeps trees vibrant throughout the holidays. Before you hoist that spruce home on your own, check to determine if the seller is offering free delivery on large trees and seasonal items.

Remember, many holiday plants are poisonous to house pets. Check with your veterinarian before purchasing items that may be deadly if devoured by dogs, cats and other small household animals.

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