The holidays are upon us and for many that means putting up a Christmas tree. Choices abound - live, fresh cut, or artificial. While I have friends that swear by their artificial trees, I just haven't been able to find one I really like. I've also tried live trees but the shear weight and trouble to plant the tree after the holidays were over has stopped me from doing that. Year after year we keep coming back to a nice, fresh cut Douglas Fir. While the cleanup of dropping needles is never enjoyable, there are things you can do to prolong the life (and your enjoyment) of this special holiday tradition.
1. Right Tree Right Spot
For those of you who have been following this blog for a while, you know I alway talk about putting the right plant in the right spot for a successful garden. This is also true for your Christmas tree. The thing that shortens the 'life' of your freshly cut tree is drying out. So when you are deciding where to put the tree, try to keep it away from heating registers and direct sunlight. If you can set the temperature of that room to a few degrees cooler that can also help. You can also add a humidifier to add extra moisture to the air.
Before heading out to get your tree grab a tape measure and measure the height and width of the area where you plan to put the tree. I am terrible at just looking at something and knowing if it will fit. Also check the width of the doorways to be sure that nice plump tree you choose will make it into the room.
Lastly, get out your tree stand and add water so that you can put up the tree immediately when you get home.
2. Choose the Freshest Tree Possible
We live near a tree farm that takes you into the fields and cuts the trees for you. Or you can choose one of their already cut trees. Just because you are at a place like this don't assume that the already-cut trees were just cut that day. Be sure to ask how long ago the tree was cut and check for browning and needle drop. Ask the staff to make a fresh cut on the base. The tree absorbs water through capillaries. When there is wound (from being cut) it will seal the wound with sap and the tree can't absorb any water. This happens in about 6-8 hours. A fresh cut on the base gives you an area where the capillaries are open.
3. Transport Carefully
If you plan to bring your tree home on the roof of your car or van, remember that the wind can dry out the tree during the trip. Have the tree farm wrap the tree in plastic to prevent this.
4. Put the Tree Up Immediately
As I said in #2, the tree will close up capillaries in 6-8 hours after the last cut so be sure to put it in the stand and add water immediately.
If this just is not possible, be sure to make a fresh horizontal cut just before putting it up.
5. Water, Water, Water
The most important thing you can do to keep your tree fresh is to be sure it has enough water. We check our tree first thing in the morning, when we get home from work and last thing before we go to bed at night. Many people suggest additives ( my boyfriend swears by adding crushed aspirin to the water when we first bring the tree home) but studies have shown that these don't make much difference. The trick is keep water in the tree stand so that the base does not dry out.
I hope following these simple tips keeps your tree fresh and green through the holiday season.