How to Care for a Real Christmas Tree
For some, it just isn’t Christmas without a real tree. The smell of pine, the falling needles, the not-so-perfect shape, all add to the charm and tradition of decorating a real tree for the holidays. Whether you scout out one in the wild and cut it down yourself, or you head for the local tree lot to pick out a winner, caring for your tree once you bring it home requires a little extra TLC. Here are a few tips to keep your tree as happy as possible all season long.
If you visit a tree lot for your tree, test a tree’s freshness by pulling your hand towards you along the branch. Needles should not fall off. What are the top sellers? Scotch pine, Douglas fir, white pine and balsam fir.
Make a Fresh Cut
Once you get your tree home, make a fresh cut about ½-inch from the bottom of the base of the tree. Don’t whittle down the sides of the tree to make it fit in the stand. And don’t drill a hole into the base; it won’t improve the tree’s ability to take in water.
Take a Stand
Be sure to choose a stand that will fit the base of your tree. Generally, pick a stand that provides about 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter. You can trim lower branches so that it will fit down into the base.
As soon as you get the tree home and into the stand, fill it with water as quickly as possible. The longer you wait, the less likely it will be able to take up water. And once a tree can’t take water any more, then you have a very dry tree.
The number one thing you can do to preserve the beauty of your fresh tree, is to ensure that the water never drops below the base of the tree. With many stands, there may still be water in the base, but the tree may not be submerged.
Watch the Temp
Keep trees away from heat sources, such as fireplaces, heaters and direct sunlight. Lowering the room temperature will help slow the drying process and may reduce the total amount of water needed each day.
Light the Way
Of course, you will likely plan to put strings of lights on your tree. Be sure to inspect them and avoid using any strings that are worn.
Avoid overloading circuits with your lights and always turn them off when you leave the house or go to bed.
After the Holidays
When the holidays are over and it’s time for you to remove your tree, recycle what you can. A fir tree’s foliage can be used to stuff small fragrance pillows. Dried out sprigs can be used to ignite kindling in your fireplace or wood stove. Trim branches and use them for mulch in the garden.