Artificial Christmas trees have been a thing, in one form or another, for a couple of centuries now, but many Americans still opt for the traditional, once-living, fresh tree over the manufactured variety. Unfortunately, when you bring a tree into your home, you are almost certainly going to wind up with leaves on your floor – and the “needles” on coniferous trees are actually leaves. However, there are some ways to at least mitigate the damage.
Here are a few ways you can keep your Christmas tree’s needles on the branch and off the floor.
Buy The Right Tree
No, we’re not saying you need to ditch the fresh tree for an artificial one. But if it’s a fresh one you want, make sure you check out the tree you like just a bit more closely before you tell the salesman to tie it to your car. Gently tug at the needles: if they fall off easily, the tree may be diseased or less fresh than others, according to AccuWeather. Or to be even more thorough, you can channel The Old Man from A Christmas Story and recreate that scene where he bounces a tree on the ground. If the needles fall off, as they did in that scene in the movie, the tree is a dud.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate – And Quickly!
There’s a reason the stand you buy for your (fresh) Christmas tree has a pan for water – you need to put water in there and keep a steady supply going.
According to Popular Mechanics, from the time the saw finishes cutting the tree from the stump, the sap will start closing up the cut. That means you have about three hours to get the tree into some water before it’s too late.
Once the water is in the pan, make sure you keep it there. The surface of the water must be above the line of the cut at all times. As a general rule, plan on about a quart a day per inch of diameter of the tree; so in other words, if your tree has a three-inch diameter trunk, plan on giving it about three quarts of water per day.
Use The Right Lights
Only for the last few years have Light Emitting Diode (LED) Christmas lights been affordable enough that the average American can put them on their Christmas trees. And by all means, if you have a fresh Christmas tree, use LEDs. Not only are they more energy-efficient, but they also burn cooler than the more traditional incandescent bulbs you’re used to. This helps the tree stay fresher, longer thanks to the fact that they emit less heat that would otherwise dry out the leaves.
What Doesn’t Work
Putting sugar in the tree’s water, or using soda or energy drinks instead of water, makes sense in theory (after all, tree sap is made of sugar). But real botanists say it doesn’t work. Another thing that theoretically works but is dangerous in practice is spraying your tree with hairspray: though the science is sound (it slows the needles’ decaying process), hairspray is flammable, as is your tree. So don’t do it.