You’ve finally picked out the perfect Christmas tree. You can’t wait to get it home and decorate it to add some holiday cheer to your home. But that joy can quickly turn to frustration if your tree starts to get dry and drop needles before Christmas. Daily vacuuming of pine needles will hardly put you in the holiday spirit!
Did you know that a freshly cut tree can last 4-6 weeks with proper maintenance? That’s plenty of time to cover the entire holiday season! Here are some easy care tips to make your tree last as long as possible:
If you purchased a pre-cut tree, you will need to saw off about a half inch of the trunk at the bottom. A pre-cut tree produces sap which, after a few hours, hardens and creates a seal. Cutting a small amount off the bottom reveals fresh, open pores that easily absorb water, allowing your tree to stay properly hydrated.
Be sure to cut straight across, rather than at an angle or in a “V” shape. Cutting at an angle not only makes it difficult for your tree to sit upright in its stand, but it reduces the amount of water available to the tree. The outer layers of the wood are the best at absorbing water, and should be left intact.
When deciding where you put your tree, it is important to note that Christmas trees thrive in a cooler environment. Try to avoid placing your tree near heat sources and air ducts, or in direct sunlight. These things speed up the drying process, making your tree look less than its best.
If you can, place your tree in a darker, cooler corner, away from fireplaces, heating vents, and windows. It may not be practical, but if you can stand to set your thermostat a bit lower, it will help your Christmas tree last a lot longer.
This is probably the most important step to making your tree last the whole season. You will need a tree stand with a reservoir that holds at least a gallon of water. The general rule is that it will need to hold a quart of water per inch in diameter of the trunk. Typically, a tree absorbs a gallon or more during the first 24 hours in your home. After that, you may need to top it off with about a quart of water every day.
Check the water level regularly. If it falls below the base of the tree without you noticing, the sap will harden and create a seal. The only way to fix it is to take the tree out and saw off another half inch from the trunk to reveal open pores. That would be hard to do with it all decorated!
Some people swear by commercial additives, aspirin, or corn syrup to “feed” the tree. There is no information to suggest that they actually make a difference, so don’t worry. Fresh water is all your tree really needs.
Older-style string lights tend to get warm around the bulbs, which can be bad news if your tree starts to dry. Newer LED lights are extremely cost-effective and emit little to no heat, decreasing the risk of fire. Before placing your lights on the tree, check to make sure all bulbs and wires are intact and working properly. Toss any questionable decorations and replace, if necessary. Better to replace a strand of lights than your house!
Don’t forget to turn your tree lights off every time you leave the house, and when you go to bed. It’s not safe to leave them unattended.
Once you have taken all the necessary precautions, continue to keep an eye on the condition of your tree. Run your fingers across the needles to check if they are brittle. If they break or fall off, your tree is too dry and needs to be removed. Many areas offer curbside pickup of Christmas trees. Check with your local waste management for guidelines.