I’ll admit it; I’m a bit of a Christmas tree snob. Growing up, my family always got a fresh Christmas tree and my dad made a very big deal about decorating it. For example, he insisted that icicles be placed in each branch one at a time (as opposed to tossing them on as was my method of choice). Oh, the memories!
Now that I have my own home, I thought I’d bring back the tradition of a fresh tree. I want to be sure the tree lasts at least until Christmas (preferably until the New Year) so I checked with some of the folks here at Flowerland on fresh tree care for the holidays. Here’s what I found out.
1. Make sure you have a fresh cut at the bottom of the tree. It may not seem important but it really is. The truck of the tree has pores in it and that is what absorbs the water. A fresh cut opens the pores, allowing the tree to absorb more water. Once the tree stops taking in water, it will start to dry out.
2. Be sure to put the tree in water within 4 to 5 hours of making the fresh cut. Why? You don’t want the pores to start closing.
3. Water the tree daily. Some trees can go through a ton of water at first. Other trees absorb the water more slowly. Eventually, it will need less water and you may be able to cut back to watering every other day. Rule of thumb: Check the water level before adding more.
4. Adding a preservative like Prolong can help extend the life of the tree.
5. Keep the room cool to prevent drying. Also keep the tree away from heat registers and fireplaces.
6. The tree will begin dropping its needles when it starts to dry out.
7. The older, large Christmas tree bulbs tend to run hotter and may add to the drying problem. If you need to buy new lights, the LED variety is both energy-efficient and runs cool to the touch.
Concerned about needle clean up or heavy ornaments? You may want to think about what type of fresh Christmas tree you purchase. Fir trees, including Douglas, Fraser and Balsam, tend to hold their needles the longest. Their branching is a bit weaker so you want to be careful with where you place your heavier ornaments. Scotch Pines, White Pines and Spruce trees tend to have heartier branching to handle all ornaments. They do tend, however, to be the first to shed.
Bottom line: Get a fresh cut and water, water, water.