When you look around, you’ll find Christmas trees for sale in a variety of places — on lots, in nurseries and at big box stores.

With so much emphasis on the Christmas tree as the centerpiece of holiday decorations, choosing the right tree is important.

Fraser firs are quite popular these days. They have blunt needles that are soft and easy to decorate. But all kinds of Christmas trees are available, and it’s really a matter of taste which one you choose.

“When you’re looking at trees, make sure they’re fresh,” says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill. Many trees are cut well in advance and shipped in, so they’re often somewhat dehydrated by the time they arrive at the tree lots.

“So you want to kind of run your hand along the needles,” he says. “Make sure the needles adhere to the tree well. And make sure you don’t see lots of needles falling when you shake the branches.”

When you select a tree, have the lot attendant cut the bottom off the base, or even better, bring it home and recut the base of the trunk yourself.

That opens up the bottom of the trunk so it can absorb water, Gill says.

Then as soon as possible plunge the trunk into a bucket of warm water. Let the tree sit outside a day or two, and then bring it inside after it’s had a chance to rehydrate.

“Put it immediately into a nice tree stand that has a large water receptacle and keep that full of water,” Gill says. Check it every day and make sure your tree doesn’t dry out.

Think of Christmas trees as cut flowers, Gill says. “We keep them on life support for as long as possible to keep them looking fresh. Do a good job and your tree will stay looking nice through the season.”

Choose a tree that’s the right size, Gill adds. “Make sure the height will fit where you intend to put it.”

If the tree is destined for a corner location, you can save a little money and buy a tree with a poor backside, he says. “As long as the front side is good, that’s fine.” But if it’s going to be viewed from all sides, choose a tree that looks good from whichever angle you look at it.

Got a gardening question? Write to GardenNews@agcenter.lsu.edu.