By: Heather Rhoades
Caring for a live Christmas tree is easy, but requires a few specific steps. If you take these steps, you can make a Christmas tree last longer through the season. Let’s take a look at how to keep a Christmas tree alive and fresh.
Tips to Make a Christmas Tree Last Longer
Wrap the tree for the trip home
Most Christmas trees travel to their owner’s home on the top of a vehicle. Without some kind of covering, the wind can dry the Christmas tree out. The first step to keeping your Christmas tree fresh is to cover the tree as you go home in order to keep the wind from damaging it.
Recutting the stem on the Christmas tree
When caring for a live Christmas tree, remember a Christmas tree is essentially a giant cut flower. Unless you cut your own Christmas tree, chances are the tree you buy has been sitting on the lot for several days, possibly weeks. The vascular system that draws water up into the Christmas tree will have clogged up. Cutting off just a ¼ inch (0.5 cm.) of the bottom of the trunk will remove the clogs and open up the vascular system again. You can cut more off, if you need to for height reasons.
Many people wonder if there is a special way to cut the trunk to help with keeping your Christmas tree fresh. A simple straight cut is all that is needed. Drilling holes or cutting at angles will not improve how well the Christmas tree takes up water.
Watering your Christmas tree
To keep a Christmas tree alive, it is essential that once you cut the trunk of the Christmas tree, the cut has to stay moist. Make sure to fill the stand immediately after you cut the trunk. But, if you forget, most trees will be ok if you fill the stand within 24 hours. But your Christmas tree will stay fresh longer if you fill it as soon as possible.
If you want to make a Christmas tree last longer, just use plain water. Studies have shown that plain water will work to keep a Christmas tree alive as well as anything added to the water.
Check the Christmas tree stand twice a day as long as the tree is up. It is important that the stand stayed filled. A Christmas tree stand normally holds a rather small amount of water and a Christmas tree can quickly use up the water in the stand.
Choose an appropriate location for your Christmas tree
Another important part of how to make a Christmas tree last longer is to choose a good location in your house. Place the tree away from heating vents or cold drafts. Constant heat or fluctuating temperatures can speed the drying out of a tree.
Also avoid placing the tree in direct, strong sunlight. The sunlight can also make the tree fade faster.
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8 Ways to Make Your Christmas Tree Last Longer
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Are you wondering how to make your Christmas tree last longer this year? Use the tips below to extend the life of your tree and reduce needle drop.
Since a “real” Christmas tree can be quite an investment, you probably want to preserve it as long as possible. In order to do this, you need to take care of three things: food, water, and humidity. Check out the tips below for 8 Ways to Make Your Christmas Tree Last Longer this year!
How To Keep A Potted Christmas Tree Alive
Is not very hard to care for a live Christmas tree, but it requires some special steps in order not to whiter and die. So, to avoid a messy and full of pine needles after-Christmas, I choose a live potted Christmas tree to decorate this year. They are smaller and more sustainable alternatives to cut trees, even if they require extra care to stay alive until 25th of December.
If you consider choosing a potted Christmas tree this year, you should hurry because holidays are on the horizon.
Why choosing a potted Christmas tree?
Well, they are easier to decorate and you won’t have to deal with the after-Christmas mess. Moreover, you can easily plant them in the garden when the season is over or simply, grow one in pots and reuse the tree next year. So, if you intend to choose a potted tree opt for one that indigenous to your region so it can thrive throughout the entire year.
Steps and advice to care for a potted Christmas Tree:
- You should bring your potted Christmas tree indoors as late as possible. The weekend before Christmas is ideal, and it’s advisable not to keep living trees in the house any longer than 7-10 days.
- As with most houseplants, it’s the watering that’s the thing. Too much and your potted tree will die of ‘trench foot’, too little and the leaves will turn brown and fall. Always check that the container has good drainage and some sort of saucer underneath to catch any excess water.
- Avoid placing your tree close to a fire or radiator – this will cause excessive moisture loss and needle drop.
- It’s best to check the soil every day to make sure it’s not drying out.
- That is the main downside of container trees, the roots of all trees are pretty ferocious and the taller the tree the more roots are needed to keep the water supply going. Be careful: every tree that’s taller than 3-5 feet won’t last longer in pots and would be harder to handle.
5 Simple Tips To Keep Your Cut Christmas Tree Looking Great
#1 Start With The Freshest Tree Possible
Quite simply, the fresher the tree, the longer it’s going to last in your home. Unfortunately, in the era of mass transit, many trees are cut and trucked halfway across the country. That means some have already been cut for weeks before ever making it into a home!
If at all possible, choose a local tree farm or local supplier to ensure the freshest tree possible. You-cut tree farms are the best option of all. After all, nothing is more fresh than bending down and sawing off the trunk to your own tree.
You can’t get more fresh than cutting down a tree and taking it home! A freshly cut tree can last up to four or more weeks with proper care.
It’s just another great example of where supporting local really pays off. And in more ways than one. Not only are you getting the freshest tree possible, you are also supporting the community where you live and work.
#2 Cut A Fresh Tree Base – Cut Christmas Tree Care
Did you know that one of the best ways to keep a tree fresh and healthy longer is to cut an inch or so off the bottom of the trunk before putting it into water?
When a tree is cut from its base, it immediately begins to seal off the cut edge with sap. And that sap prevents fresh water from helping give moisture back to the tree.
Always slice off a few inches of the base right before sitting it into water. This opens up the pores that have been sealed off by dripping sap from the cut tree.
But by slicing off an inch or two from the bottom of the base before, you open the pores back up. And doing this right before putting it into the base with water can really help in hydrating the tree and extending its shelf life.
#3 Water The Tree With Warm Water – Cut Christmas Tree Care
Now that you have your tree home and the trunk re-cut, it’s time to put it down into a water-filled base. Keeping a tree well-watered is the single biggest key to success for keeping the needles strong through the Christmas season.
But, and here is a big key, water only with warm water – not cold. Watering with cold water can actually close the cells from the cut end of the tree. And in the process, the water will not absorb in to hydrate the tree.Water your tree often with warm, not cold water. Make sure the reservoir for the tree stand always has enough water to cover the bottom of the tree base.
In addition to the warm water trick, make sure you select a deep watering well tree stand that holds enough water to keep the bottom of the trunk always covered in water.
This helps keep the cut end from closing off once again. And just like before, once it dries out and seals with sap, it is unable to soak in water.
# 4 Keep In A Cool Room – Cut Christmas Tree Care
Once a Christmas tree has been cut, it begins to slowly deteriorate. But heat plays a big part in how quickly the tree will begin to fade away.
Keep the room where your Christmas tree is located cool. In addition, keep it away from windows that are flooded directly by the sun during daylight hours. Also make sure the tree is not directly in front of or covering floor and wall heating vents.
Although a cut Christmas tree may look great near a fireplace – it can dry it out quickly. It also can be quite the fire hazard, especially if it is a live wood fire.
Last but not lease, do not locate it anywhere close to a heat source such as a fireplace or electric heater. Not only is it an extreme fire hazard, the excessive heat will also take a quick toll on the tree’s lifespan.
#5 Use Cool-Burning LED Lights For Decorating – Cut Christmas Tree Care
One of the best things you can do for extending the life of a cut Christmas tree is to use cool-burning LED lights. LED lights are cool to the touch, and keep a tree’s needles and stems from drying out.
Even better, they are also extremely energy efficient, so you will save on keeping it lit all through the Christmas season. LED lights are now available in a huge array of styles, colors, and can be made to even glow like the lights of yesteryear.Choose cool-burning LED lights for lighting up your tree. They are cool to the touch, and keep a tree from drying out prematurely.
One thing is for sure, lights and decorations have sure come a long way from the one’s we had as kids! (See : Remembering Christmas Decorations From The 60’s, 70’s and 80’s)
Finally, when the season is all over, make sure you recycle your tree! Many communities now offer free pick up to turn the trees into valuable mulch. It is a much better option than simply setting it ablaze or throwing it out.
There you have it! 5 simple care tips to keep that cut Christmas tree looking great right through to New Year’s Eve! Happy Gardening & Merry Christmas – Jim and Mary.
8 Ways to Make Your Christmas Tree Last Longer
1. Be careful during transport.
Making sure you take extra care before your tree even goes in your home will be important for keeping it fresh. Use care not to break branches or bend the thin part at the top. Also, you should prepare the trunk for water and care. Make a 1-inch slice off the bottom of the trunk where the tree was cut to allow it to soak up nutrients and water when you place it in your home.
2. Select a longer-lasting variety of tree to begin with.
This means buying as local as possible so that your tree is fresh and grown in an environment that is sustainable and ideal. If you can, pick a local tree farm to go and select a fresh cut tree if possible. If there are no local tree farms, your next best bet is to cut one yourself by obtaining a permit from the Forest Service. As a last resort, buy from a tree stand but make sure you feel the needles first. They should not fall off when touched or the tree is not fresh and could be more than a week past its cut date.
3. Make sure to get your tree in water as soon as possible.
When you buy flowers, you place them in water as soon as you get them home, don’t you? Your tree is the same way. It needs water to continue to last. Make sure the water is not too cold as that can actually “shock” the tree.
4. Add nutrients to your tree’s water.
There are several tips and tricks for the right nutrients to feed your tree, and there are certainly tree foods you can buy as well. The bottom line is all your tree needs is a sugar source and plenty of water. This can be as simple as adding a couple of tablespoons of plain sugar in your tree’s water and watching to make sure there is always plenty of fresh water in your tree stand. You can also add Miracle Grow for Christmas Trees to reduce needle drop.
5. Choose a good location for your tree.
Make sure it is far away from anything that could dry it out, not only for preservation sake, but safety. This means not placing it near baseboard heaters, fans, vents, or in direct sunlight. A dry location will make your effort to keep it well-watered pointless.
6. Switch to LED lights.
Consider using newer LED bulbs for lights on your tree. They produce less heat and therefore, will not be as drying.
7. Keep a good eye on your water level.
Check once or twice a day as some trees tend to be very thirsty. Every time you add water, make sure it is warm and has a teaspoon of sugar dissolved in it.
8. Try running a humidifier.
In the cold and drying months, running a humidifier in the room your tree is in can help prevent your tree from drying out. This is actually really good to do for your own health as well!
When you are done with your evergreen beauty, be sure to recycle it. Most cities have recycling programs now, so check your local paper for drop off locations or pick up dates and times.
How do I care for a potted tree?
Some people like the idea of being able to plant their tree after the Christmas season. Since potted trees come with a root ball, the trees can’t be too big (or the root ball will be too big to manage), and they can’t stay indoors for longer than seven to ten days. Potted trees are trees in a dormant state, which every tree goes into during the winter. If put in the warmth for too long, your tree will come out of dormancy prematurely, and have a harder time flourishing when planted in the spring.
This post was originally published in 2018 updated in 2020.