Christmas Tree Care

Posted: December 6, 2011

Once you’ve purchased your fresh tree for the holiday season, you need to maintain its freshness. Here are some tips to keep your cut Christmas tree fresh and safe throughout the holidays:

  • If you cannot set it up within 24 hours, keep it fresh by putting it in a bucket of water outdoors, out of direct sun or drying winds, or in a cool place indoors.
  • Before you bring your tree inside, check it for insect egg cases and remove them.  Praying mantis egg cases look like globs of brown Styrofoam attached to twigs, and bagworm cases look like small twiggy pine cones hanging from branches.  You can put the mantis egg cases outside in a protected location, but destroy the bagworm cases, since they are harmful to trees.
  • When you set your tree up, make a fresh cut straight across the stem, not at an angle or into a V-shape, about an inch above the existing cut. Keep the cut as clean as possible.  A smooth, clean cut will help water absorption.
  • Use a stand that is large enough to hold your tree and to hold enough water for the tree.  A general rule of thumb is 1 quart of water for each inch of trunk diameter.
  • Do not whittle down the sides of the trunk to fit the stand.  Those outer layers of wood are the best at taking up water.  Holes drilled into the center or sides of the trunk do not improve water uptake.
  • Check the water in the tree stand’s reservoir twice a day.  The tree can take up a tremendous amount of water.  The base of the stem must not dry out, so be sure that the water level stays above the bottom of the tree trunk.
  • Add water daily as needed.  The temperature of the water is not important.  Just use plain tap water – do not add any anything like sugar, bleach, aspirin, floral preservatives, or water-holding gels.  Keeping fresh water in the stand is the best thing you can do to keep your tree fresh!
  • Applying anti-transpirants or flame retardants to the tree does not reduce the rate of moisture loss and usually does not help to maintain tree freshness.
  • Keep your tree away from heat sources – fireplaces, heaters, heat vents, direct sunlight.  Keeping the room cooler will also help to keep your tree fresh.  Use miniature lights that produce less heat and reduce the drying effect on the tree.
  • If the tree dries out (needles are falling off and twigs snap instead of bend), take it out of the house.
Enjoy your tree and a safe holiday season!