If you bought a cut tree this year for Christmas you probably want it to look its best for the entire season. Even though the tree has lost its roots, it is still living and can be kept in good condition. With a little care you can enjoy its fragrance and fresh green color for a long holiday season.
1. The selection of the tree at purchase will greatly influence the potential of the tree.
Some kinds of trees hold on to their needles longer than others; in general pines and firs hold their needles a relatively long time and spruce drop them most quickly.
The time the trees were cut and the way they were transported to market will influence freshness. Locally grown trees will probably be fresher and less dried out than ones grown many states away. To determine freshness shake a limb or run your hand down a branch and look for needle drop. Very few if any needles should drop.
2. When transporting your tree home avoid drying it out in the wind. Cover the tree or carry in inside the vechicle. Exposing a cut (or ball and burlap) tree to even a short duration of 35-40 mile per hour wind on the top of a car or the back of a pickup truck will severely dry the leaves.
3. If you are not using the tree immediately, cut off ½-1” of the trunk, put it into water and store outside in a shady, protected place until ready to use. Don’t worry about freezing temperatures, they will not hurt the tree.
4. When you bring the tree inside, select a site that is cool, away from direct sunlight, and far from vents, drafts, and the fireplace.
5. Use a tree holder that will accommodate a large amount of water. The tree will use 1 quart of water for every inch of trunk diameter so a tree with a trunk 4” across will use 1 gallon of water a day!
6. Use small lights; they produce significantly less heat than large bulbs and will dry the tree less.
7. Monitor the tree daily checking the water level and adding more water as necessary. Remember that most full size trees will use about a gallon a day.
It really doesn’t take much effort to have a fresh, gorgeous tree all season long. And don’t bother to drill a hole in the stem, make a V in the stem, or add sugar to the water as none of these really help. Just keep your tree well watered and enjoy your holiday.