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  • How To Keep A Christmas Tree Fresh

    4 posts, 3 voices, 1116 views, started Dec 14, 2010

    Posted on Tuesday, December 14, 2010 by Denise Richardson

    • Diamond

      A Christmas tree can drink up to a gallon of water every day. However, when the cut end of the tree trunk is exposed to the air for more than a couple of hours it seals over with tree sap. If it is sealed over it cannot drink any water.  

      With water, your tree’s needles can remain soft and stay on the tree for up to six weeks. Without water your tree will dry out, shed lots of needles and become an extreme fire hazard. So in the interest of having the best looking, neatest and safest tree, it should be mounted in a base with a water reservoir. Ideally the water reservoir should hold more than a gallon of water. Otherwise you may need to refill the tree stand more than once a day.

      When you get your tree home, trim off an additional 1/2” from the bottom of the trunk to expose fresh wood. Trim off all the branches from about the bottom 6” of the tree. You may wish or need to trim off more. If you don’t have the tools or inclination to recut the tree, have the seller do it when you buy the tree. If your tree’s trunk is too big to fit in the tree stand, you should be using a bigger tree stand. However, if you have to use the undersized stand, you can shave the bark off the bottom 6” of the tree to reduce its diameter or if necessary cut a flat spot onto one side of the trunk.  

      After you set up your tree, fill the reservoir with water. It may take a day or so before your tree drinks any water, but then once it does start drinking, refill it frequently. If the reservoir runs dry, the trunk will start to seal over and the tree will dry out.

      Aspirin, Sugar or Bleach?

      Keeping the needles on the tree and keeping them from drying out is a challenge. There are many common myths about adding something to the tree’s water to stop needles from shedding and to extend its life. Aspirin, sugar or bleach are believed by some to help preserve the tree’s life. However, there is no evidence that any of those additives actually help and there is evidence that some might actually have the opposite of the intended effect. Check out the Mythbusters 2006 Christmas Special for their results on additives’ effects on Christmas trees. All your tree needs is water. So don’t bother with fertilizer, plant food, 7-up, glycerin or anything else; just give your Christmas tree plenty of water.

      Other Ways to Extend the Life of a Christmas Tree

      Keeping your tree cooler will prevent the shedding of needles. One way to help with this is to avoid placing the tree near a heater vent or radiator.

      Your tree will also benefit from light. So placement near a window so it receives sunlight is helpful. Even the lights you put on the tree can help a little bit. Your tree can make use of the light from Christmas tree lights, but the best lights are the white or clear bulbs. Also, LED lights are best because they generate less heat and they output a broader spectrum of beneficial wavelengths.

      Keep Your Tree From Falling Over

      After years of setting up a Xmas tree in a base that holds water, I’ve had my share of tip overs. Sometimes I can’t get it aligned just right or the base is too small or pets and children get too enthusiastic and tip it over. So here is what I’ve done to keep the tree upright.

      Use a hook. I have a white ceiling and I screw a white hook into the ceiling right over where the tree will go. I fasten clear fishing line to it and leave enough to reach the tree top and some extra for tying a knot around a the treetop. The hook and line were all but invisible and didn’t detract from the tree. The hook doesn’t have to support the weight of the tree, it just has to keep it from tipping over. This has the added benefit of keeping the tree straight. Your tree may still pull hard enough that you will need a hook with a longer shank so you can secure it into a ceiling joist. In one home I couldn’t secure it to the ceiling, so I used two hooks in the wall, as far apart as I could get them so they could hold the tree from two sides.

      Screw the base to a piece of plywood. I had a base that said it should support a six foot tree, but my tree just wouldn’t stay up. So I drove short screws through the legs into a 24” circular piece of pressed wood. That year my kids had a wrestling match right under the tree and the tree stayed up.

      Happy Holidays!

  • Caring For Nature Indoors View Group »

    sharing proper care tips for growing houseplants.