Getting a live Christmas tree can add a special touch to your holiday season but it can also end in disaster if you don’t properly take care of your tree. Trust me, you do not want a dry, brittle tree dropping needles for you to step on or worse, becoming a fire hazard! So how do you keep your Christmas tree fresher longer? Just follow these 5 simple tips!
1.) Cut Your Own
Starting with a freshly cut tree is your best choice! There is nothing like taking the family out each year to personally select and cut down a Christmas tree. Add in some hot coco and you are making Christmas memories! Keep in mind a trip to the woods will yield a less than perfect “Christmas tree” shape and there may be permits required if you are on public land. There are many local tree farms in our area, that spend years trimming and shaping their trees to give them that perfect pointy look. You can always Google Christmas tree farms in your area to find one. We are all for supporting local businesses!
2.) Pre-cut Trees
No tree farms in your area? Don’t feel like cutting your own? Many organizations sell Christmas trees as fundraisers. And some tree farms will have pre-cut tree available. The key to pre-cut trees is finding the freshest tree available. Ask when the trees were cut. If they don’t know, ask when they received the trees. Many times trees are cut in advance in bulk, loaded onto trucks and shipped across the country. Knowing how long the tree has been deprived of water makes a big difference in selecting the best tree. Pine trees begin to dry out almost immediately after being cut.
Your tree should be a nice green or have a blue tinge, depending on the species. Steer clear of trees with brown needles, even if it’s just a branch or two. Brown needles are a clear sign the tree has been deprived of water for way to long.!
3.) The Shake Test
If a tree looks good visually, it’s time to test it. Shaking the tree will give you an idea of how dried out it is. If we buy a pre-cut tree, we lift and thump the stump on the ground a couple times and then observe how many needles fell off. A fresh tree won’t drop many but an older, dried out tree will shed needles everywhere. This is not the tree for you! Just imagine stepping bare foot on those pointy dried out needles at home!
4.) It’s All About the Base
Pine trees need water. If you cut your own and get it put up within a couple hours, your tree will be fine. But if you buy a pre-cut tree, you will need to cut the bottom inch of the base off. Why you ask? Imagine trying to drink a soda through a crushed straw. It’s not much fun and it makes it harder to get any! Once a tree is cut it begins to dry out, particularly along the cut base. The xylem tissues in the tree that facilitate moving water begins to collapse as it dries. Since trees absorb water from the base up, you will want to remove the dried out section of the base to make it much easier for the tree to draw in water once it is placed in the stand. Not to mention the tree will try to persevere itself with sap, like a band-aid on a cut. takes less than three hours for sap to seal the pores that draw in water.
If you get a tree and aren’t able to get it put up right away, I suggest placing the base in a bucket of water in your garage. This will trick the tree into thinking it is still attached to the ground and keep it from drying out further waiting for it’s time to shine!
5.) Hydration and Temperature
By now you may have picked up on the fact that keeping a tree hydrated properly is very important to keeping it fresher longer. If you bought a pre-cut tree, expect the tree to quickly suck up the water you place in your stand. In fact you may have to refill the stand multiple times the first day. I recommend checking the water level in your stand at least twice a day, once in the morning and once before bed. Do not let the water level drop below the base of the tree. A dried out tree can become a fire hazard and no one wants a tragedy at Christmas!
The Temperature in your home also plays a role in keeping your tree hydrated. Pines like colder climates and cooler temperatures. The warmer you house is the drier the air becomes, drying your tree out faster. This is why it is important to check the water levels in your stand! When picking a location for your tree, a windowless corner away from direct sunlight is a good choice. Make sure the tree isn’t near a heat source, especially heaters, stoves, and fireplaces. This will also help cut down on fire risk!
Note: You do NOT need to add sugar, baby aspirin, or any type of commercial additive to your tree’s water. Fresh clean water is all your tree needs! A fresh, well watered tree should last about 6 weeks in your home.
Need some ornament ideas? Check out our 5 easy to make ornaments for your Christmas Tree!