Keep a Live Christmas Tree Fresh

Edited by Nerissa Avisado, Robbi, Lynn, Laurel Waddell and 2 others

It doesn't quite feel like Christmas until the Christmas tree is standing, fully decorated, in your home. The Christmas tree is a beautiful and memorable part of the Holiday tradition. With all its sparkling lights, cheerful garlands, and delicate ornaments, it adds to the magical splendor of the festive season that brings joy to so many.

When selecting a tree, there is the initial choice that needs to be made between a real tree or synthetic tree. In these days of environmental awareness, many choose to have an artificial tree to help save trees and keep them out of the landfill. But the choice of many families is to have a fresh pine tree as part of many generations of tradition. The pleasure that you experience by gazing at your beautiful tree is beyond price. It is a wonderful way to extend the holiday spirit into the days, or weeks that follow Christmas Day. You may be hoping it will last at least until your New Year's celebration. Take heart. There are ways to keep your Christmas tree alive and fresh for weeks.

"O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum, make your fresh Christmas tree last..." And avoid having a tannenbummer Holiday season because your tree has dried up. By giving additional attention to the needs of your tree, you will have your fresh fragrant tree with all its "lovely branches". Here's how to keep a live Christmas Tree Fresh

Buying a fresh tree

  1. 1
    Choose and cut your tree yourself. There are farms that provide this service. This is the best way to ensure your tree is fresh from the moment you leave the tree lot.
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  2. 2
    Assess the tree's freshness by its needles.
    1. Gently take hold of a branch near the trunk and pull the branch toward you. If a handful of needles come away in your hand this means the tree has not had enough water.
    2. Gently shake the tree. Falling needles also indicate that the tree is dry.
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  3. 3
    Know what tree to buy. A spruce tree sheds needles earlier, while a fir tree has needles that remain on the branches longer.
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Transporting your fresh tree from the farm to your home

  1. 1
    Take care of your tree right away. Wrap it in a plastic tarp to protect it as you transport it home.
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  2. 2
    For a pre-cut tree, cut it off at its base. (Sap has already begun to seal the initial cut, blocking the trunk's ability to absorb water.)  
    1. With a saw, take off about 1-1½ inches off the bottom.
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  3. 3
    Inspect the tree stand for leaks.
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  4. 4
    Get the tree into water as soon as possible. This will prevent the base from drying up.  
    1. Set it up in its stand. (If your tree is still in need of trimming, place it in a bucket of water temporarily, as you trim.)
    2. Add water to the tree stand.
    3. Never allow the water to completely dry up. This keeps the needles hydrated and healthy.
    4. If it does happened to dry up, drill shallow holes at the base of the tree and refill the water.
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Keeping your Christmas tree away from heat sources

  1. 1
    Heat will increase evaporation. It will dry out the needle and evaporate the water in your tree stand. Your tree's freshness can be preserved by not placing it near any sources of heat.
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  • 2
    Heat sources; The ones to avoid inside your home are the heating vents, wood stoves, fireplaces and radiators.
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  • 3
    Keep away from direct sunlight. Avoid setting your tree up near a sunny window.
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  • 4
    Avoid placing your tree near your TV.
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  • 5
    Use miniature lights to decorate your tree. These will prevent the exposure of the tree from glaring light bulbs and other hot light sources.
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  • Maintaining a fresh Christmas tree

    1. 1
      Drink up. A newly cut tree requires a gallon of water during the first 24 hours. In the days that follow add about 1 quart of fresh water daily.
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    2. 2
      Check it out. Always check the bottom of the tree. If the water level drops below the bottom of the tree, sap will form a new seal, which prevents absorption of the newly poured water.
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    3. 3
      Be consistent. Watering the tree every day usually keeps it fresh for a period of five weeks.
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    The extra effort to keep your live Christmas Tree fresh will be worth it when you find that you are still enjoying your tree into the final weeks of January.

    Safety warnings

    • Think twice about using fertilizers. Commercial preservatives are a food source for the tree, but for many, it presents a danger, especially to children and pets.
    • Fir trees can trigger allergies. Doctors are giving warnings on the use of fir trees that are causing a seasonal surge in watery eyes, rashes, wheezing, headaches and frequent sinus disturbances. These allergic reactions come from the mold spores produced by the tree, or even from the mere scent of pine.

    Questions and Answers

    How to get needles to stay on the Christmas tree?

    There are various reasons why Christmas tree needles fall off easily, such as:

    • Dehydration
    • Exposure to too much heat
    • Improper handling or transportation
    • Extremely heavy decorations and accessories
    • Application of inappropriate fertilizers
    • Keeping it indoors, without proper ventilation or natural air coming in
    • Lack of maintenance, such as regular pruning

    In order to get the needles to stay on for a long time, you can do the following:

    • Water it at least once every 24 hours. Do not wait until the pot dries up completely. Make sure there is always standby water to be absorbed. Christmas trees originate from environments which are always moist and cool. They are not used to being in a dry environment. Therefore, lack of water can impair the quality of the needles right away, and a good number of them will immediately fall off.
    • In case it has reached a point that the pot got completely drained of water, check the bottom stalks. If you see signs of dryness, such as a change in color or texture, cut a bit of it off, because that opens the sap and makes it absorb water once again.
    • Avoid positioning your tree in areas inside or outside of your house that are reached by direct noon or early afternoon sunlight. This is the hottest part of any given day. Too much heat will cause your tree to go double time in absorbing water. At the same time, stocked water will also evaporate more quickly, thereby requiring that you water more often than usual.
    • Handle with care when moving or transporting to another location. The needles can be very fragile, especially when they're dry, so make sure you cover the needles with a moist blanket when you are moving the tree.
    • Consider the most appropriate Christmas accessories and let go of those huge and heavy Christmas balls. Unlike a synthetic Christmas tree, the branches and needles of a fresh Christmas tree are much more tender and fragile. Therefore, be selective of decorative accessories and keep them to a minimum as much as possible. Appreciate the natural beauty of the tree and keep in mind that it looks great, even with a small amount of accessories.
    • Research about fertilizers and select the most appropriate one before applying. Although fertilizers are intended to keep your tree healthy, if you happen to use the wrong one, you can easily end up with a dead tree. Fertilizers are chemicals and just like people may react badly to certain medications, the tree's reactions to fertilizers are not always positive. If you really need to use one, make sure you test with a small amount first and observe carefully.
    • Allow for proper ventilation when keeping your tree indoors. Choose areas inside your home where natural air flows through or that are not too crowded or suffocating. Ideally, there should be a window or door near it. Avoid areas where there is too much artificial light, such as a painting room or display corner with a spotlight, as that emits too much heat and makes the tree unable to breathe properly.
    • Remember to give your tree the necessary tender loving care every day. Christmas tree needles are very much like a person's hair or skin. If you take care of yourself by eating the right food, sleeping well, and grooming accordingly, you will more likely have excellent hair and skin. The same thing goes for trees. Treat them with regular pruning and remove dead needles from time to time. Make sure the soil is clean and no garbage or dirt are present.

    If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


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    Categories : Arts & Crafts

    Recent edits by: Christine dela Cruz, Laurel Waddell, Lynn

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