Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fresh Christmas Tree Care

Going with a fresh Christmas tree this year? Here's a few simple steps to keep it from completely drying out before January 1. 

Photo Credit: the idealist

Cut Tree Care

• Begin by cutting off a small slice (at least 1") on the bottom of the trunk to expose fresh wood. The new surface should be a creamy white. If not, cut some more or it won't take up water. 
• Soak the tree immediately in a large bucket of water that holds at least a gallon. Do not wait more than a couple of hours to place your tree in water after making your cut or resin will begin to cover it again.
• Continue adding water periodically as the tree takes up water. When it no longer appears to be taking up water, you can proceed to place your tree in the stand. If you will not be bringing it in the house right away, keep it in water in a location that is not windy, won't freeze, and is out of direct sunlight (all of which will dry a tree out faster).
• Use a stand that is not only stable, but holds plenty of water (be sure to check for leaks before using).  

Tree stands such as this one by Oasis will hold a gallon to a 
gallon and a half depending on the size of stand you purchase.

• Remember to check your tree regularly to see if it needs additional water. Trees can consume as much as a gallon a day and if the water level drops below the cut end, resin will form on the end and the tree will no longer take up water!
• For easy watering, use a funnel with a hose attached (installed in back before decorating), but be careful not to overflow the stand's reservoir. 
• No additives are necessary for the water. Fresh water will do just as well as water with an aspirin or other preservative ingredient.
• Be sure you are using lights that do not over heat the tree or have frayed cords. Every year, homes burn down during December because of electrical fires igniting the tree.
• Placing a tree near a heat source or sunny window will cause it to dry out quicker. Select a location that is a bit darker and cooler.
• When you're done with the tree, don't forget that you can compost it!

Live Tree Care

• Purchase a tree that is not already showing signs of stress.
• Do not move your tree immediately indoors if it has been in a cool or cold climate or it will start to grow rather than remaining dormant. Instead, move it to a location that is a bit warmer for 3-4 days, such as a garage or enclosed porch. This is a good time to check it for any bugs, nests, etc.
• You can spray it in the garage with an anti-wilt product or antidessicant such as Wilt-Stop. This will prevent needles from falling off and help keep moisture in the tree.
• When you select a location in your home to display the tree, choose a spot that's as cool as possible - away from heat sources. You don't want the sap to start flowing or the tree to dry out.
• Place the potted tree inside a larger pot or bucket that is leak proof and make sure it is stable.
• Water as needed to keep it moist but not soggy. Adding ice to the top of the tree ball will also help keep it cool while watering it as the ice melts. 
• Living trees should not be kept indoors more than 4-7 days. When moving it back outside, place it in a protected area to acclimate it once again to cooler temperatures. 
• Plant when soil temperatures will allow.

Purchasing A Tree

Here's an excellent, short video to help you on your outing to purchase a cut tree. 

For additional information on finding a tree farm or lot, try these links...

California Christmas Tree Association
National Christmas Tree Association
American Christmas Tree Association
Living Christmas Trees


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