Tip Sheets

Finding the right Christmas tree: Cornell expert on what to look for

Media Contact

Abigail Shroba

With the holiday season upon us, many are decorating their homes and looking for the perfect Christmas tree. Elizabeth Lamb is a plant breeding expert and a senior extension associate with Cornell Cooperative Extension’s New York State Integrated Pest Management program. Lamb is available to discuss when and where to buy the right tree.


Elizabeth Lamb

Ornamentals IPM Coordinator and Greenhouse Vegetable IPM Specialist

“Most of the Christmas tree species grown in New York state have good needle retention if cut when they are dormant – after a couple of frosts will do. But even more important is making sure the tree stays hydrated by making a fresh cut on the bottom, keeping it in water and not placing it somewhere it is more likely to dry out – like over a heating vent. If you are buying a pre-cut tree, shake it to see if the needles stay on. A few falling is normal, but it shouldn’t look like a green snowstorm.

“Personal preference wins when picking a tree. Do you want the whole experience of cutting your own tree with some hot chocolate? Or do you need to get it quickly and get it home? Most local farms have both ‘cut your own’ and some precuts available. Others also run tree lots in town and bring fresh trees out often. Garden centers may have local trees or ones brought from Pennsylvania or North Carolina wholesale farms. I have a bias toward buying local as I like talking to the growers directly. County Cornell Cooperative Extension offices often have lists of local growers, as does the Christmas Tree Farmers Association­­ of NY.  

“May you all find the perfect – for you – Christmas tree this year!”

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