The key to maintaining your live Christmas tree fresh and moist throughout the holiday season is to give it the proper care from the time it is purchased until the Christmas season ends and you dispose of the old Christmas tree. Maintaining a high level of a Christmas tree’s moisture is the absolute best way to reduce the loss of needles, which keeps the tree….fresh! You can extend the life of a fresh cut Christmas tree by using tree stands that hold an ample amount of water – and keeping the level of water above the base of the tree.
Every year, a lot of articles are written about proper care and handling fresh cut Christmas trees. Unfortunately, those articles are usually wrong. These tips and tricks (all of which are facts) are your best bet when it comes to maintaining a fresh, aromatic, live Christmas tree this upcoming holiday season.
1. Use a tree stand holds enough water. A tree stand should have a water basin that’s at least one quart of water per inch of stem diameter. The stand should hold at least 1 gallon of water, in other words, on average. A fresh cut Christmas tree absorbs a lot of water, especially in the first week. Because of that, make sure you add water every day.
2. Make sure that the tree stand fits your Christmas tree. For stands with circular rings at the top, make sure the rings are large enough for the trunk to go into – and through – the hole. Do NOT shave the sides of the trunk so that it fits the stand, because the outer layers of wood in a fresh tree are the most important when it comes to absorbing water – so it should not be removed.
3. Put the trunk of your fresh cut Christmas tree in water and store it in a cool, shaded, protected area even if you do not plan on setting it up for a few days – you don’t want the tree to dehydrate.
4. If it has been longer than 12 hours since the Christmas tree has been cut, the trunk should be re-cut so it absorbs water better. Cutting off a 1/” slice of wood – about ¼” from the base of the trunk – is all that is needed before putting the tree in the tree stand. Make the cut even and level at the bottom. Don’t cut the bottom of the tree at an angle or it may fall over or tilt.
6. Keep ALL Christmas trees (fresh AND artificial) away from heat (fireplaces, heaters, heat vents, direct sunlight). Keeping the room cool will slow the drying process and reduces how much water the tree needs every day.
7. The temperature of the water used to fill the stand is not important and does not affect water uptake.
8. Check the stand daily to make sure that the level of water does not go below the base of the tree. With many stands, there can still be water in the stand even though the base of the tree is no longer submerged in water.
9 Drilling a hole in the base of the trunk does not improve water uptake.
10. The use of “I-V” type devices to supply water directly to holes drilled into the sides of the tree trunk is not as effective as displaying the tree in a more traditional, water-holding tree stands.
11. Applying anti-transpirants to the tree does not have a significant effect on the rate of moisture loss. These products are marketed as a way to block evaporation from the foliage surface, but in reality they have little effect on a cut tree displayed indoors.
12. Adding water-holding gels to the stand is not beneficial and they can reduce the amount of water in the stand that is available to the tree.
13. Do not use additives in the water, including floral preservatives, commercial tree preservatives, molasses, sugar, bleach, soft drinks, aspirin, honey, and other concoctions. Clean water is all that is needed to maintain freshness.
14. Displaying trees in water with proper care is much more effective in reducing fire hazards than spraying trees with flame retardants. Some flame retardants can damage needles and actually increase the rate of moisture loss from trees.
15. Monitor your tree for dryness. If the needles break easily or fall off in your hand, the tree is dry and should be remove from the house. Run your fingers across the needles to see if they are dry or brittle.. Your tree should stay fresh at least three to four weeks before you should remove it from your house.