An estimated 28 million live Christmas trees will be sold this holiday season, and, as the centerpiece for festiveness in a home, it’s important to take a few extra steps to ensure that it stays fresh and lovely through Christmas.
After all, no one really wants a Charlie Brown Christmas tree, right?
Luckily for those 28 million folks buying a live Christmas tree this season, there is an actual Christmas tree expert from the National Christmas Tree Association (for real), and he kindly shared some expert tips on how you can maintain the quality and beauty of your fresh tree for up to four weeks, regardless of species.
To begin with, select the freshest tree possible. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that cutting down a tree yourself means you are getting the freshest tree. Because trees are actually dormant from late summer throughout winter, Dungey says there really is no advantage for you-cut-it trees versus so-called tree lots, where pre-cut trees are simply selected and purchased.
However, to test for freshness, Dungey recommends gently pulling on the needles of the outer branches. If the needles come out easily, or if, when the tree is tapped on the ground, it loses a lot of green needles, the tree lacks freshness. Also, avoid trees that seem faded in color.
The second tip to keep your tree fresh throughout Christmas is to give it a fresh cut. Dungey explains that when a tree is first cut, air gets into the plant tissue of the trunk and this interferes with the tree’s ability to absorb water, which it needs to keep fresh. Also, the cut should be straight across, rather than an an angle or in a V-shape. Cutting the tree trunk at an angle or a V-shape actually reduces the amount of water available to the tree. Also, Dungey says, no matter what, do not drill a hole in the base of the trunk in the hopes that it will help draw more water up into the tree. It simply does not work.
Another pro-tip for a beautiful tree is selecting the right tree stand. The National Christmas Tree Association recommends the use of a reservoir-type tree stand to help keep your tree at its best. And the tree stand should be able to hold about a gallon of water, or roughly one quart per inch of diameter of the tree trunk.
Also, make sure the stand fits the tree, but don’t whittle the tree trunk in order to fit it into a stand that is too small. According to Dungey, the outer layers of the tree are the most efficient in taking in water.
Considering this is the time of the year where fires are built in fireplaces and the heat is often cranked up, this next tip may be hard, but it helps. Keep your tree cool.
Heat dries out trees, and you may try lowering the temperature in your house or using a humidifier in order to keep the air more moist. But, if neither of those are an option, try to keep your tree away from fireplaces (probably a good idea for safety, as well), heat vents, or direct sunlight.
Also, choose the lights you string on your tree carefully. Miniature lights produce a much lower amount of heat, which reduces the drying effect on the needles, meaning those needles will stay on even longer.
And, finally, give it water.
Most Christmas trees can go between six to eight hours without a drink after a fresh cut, but try to keep the surface clean and minimize damage to the cut end by not hitting it against the ground. Once you get your tree home, keep it in a water-filled bucket until you are ready to bring it in.
When putting it in the stand, make sure the reservoir stand is full of water, and, to be on the safe side, top the reservoir off daily.
“The absorption rate of water varies from day to day,” says Dungey. “Many people worry if their tree absorbs a lot of water one day, a little the next, and then absorbs more the next day. This is normal. The tree could be full one day and need more water the next. It depends on how fast it loses moisture from its foliage.”
With these tips, you should be able to enjoy a fresh, beautiful tree throughout the Christmas season!
[Photo by Getty Images Europe]