Picking a healthy Christmas tree for the holidays.

If you're getting a real Christmas tree this year now is the time to buy it.

The sooner you buy a precut Christmas tree the better as some trees were cut weeks before reaching a retailer.

Before you take home that precut tree run it through an inspection. Here's what you need to look for. First check for dry needles.

"You don't want any needles that are brittle, that are stiff, or a tree that's dropping excessive needles. You want fresh bendable needles," said Kelly McGowan, MU Extension. "That's an indicator that the tree has recently been cut and that it'll remain fresh throughout the holiday season."

When you find your perfect Christmas tree do the shake out test. If too many needles fall off then it's not a good try.

Next look inside of them for bugs and eggs. Trees are good homes pests you don't want to bring in to your home.

"We might see things like mites, spiders, beetles, just a variety of insects that might be on the tree," McGowan said.

When you take it home try to keep it away from heat sources as those can dry the tree out. You'll want to give it a fresh-cut, and water.

"Having a big stand that's got a large reservoir for your water will help too. That's water, water, water, " said Becky Nicholas, Wickman's Garden Village. "You can get packets of things to put in there, but basically it's just keeping them refreshed with water and making sure that there's a seal that's unbroken so that they can suck it up."

Besides making sure your tree is constantly watered you might want to go ahead and purchase a plant protector, like one from Wilt Stop.

What it does is it keeps a lot of the moisture trapped within the tree to help prevent it from being evaporated and drying out.

Read the original version of this article at www.kspr.com.