Christmas Tree Care: Keep it Pretty, Keep it Safe
Christmas trees symbolize the magic and joy of the holiday season. So, it only makes sense to provide your tree with the care that will help keep it lush, green, and lovely all the way into the New Year. And doing so will bear benefits beyond just the appearance of your tree. A well cared for and healthy tree will also be less of a fire hazard and will make less of a mess with shedding pine needles.
While some families are shifting to the more advanced RGB Christmas trees, many still prefer the classic look and feel of a real cut tree for the holidays. When it’s time for your family to trim the tree, there’s just something special about the smell of pine and the feel of the real branches as you hang up your favorite ornaments. But with a real tree, you also face more issues when it comes to keeping your Christmas tree in top condition. To help you keep your tree healthy throughout the holidays this year, we’ve compiled some of the top Christmas tree care tips that offer surprisingly easy ways to keep your tree looking beautiful.
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Christmas Tree Care Tips
There’s no quicker way to put a damper on your holiday spirits than with a withering, dried up Christmas tree. Not only is an unhealthy Christmas tree unpleasant to look at, but it can also pose a fire hazard in your home. But luckily, there are several easy ways to care for your tree to ensure it’ll stay green and healthy so it can provide a safe home for all your Christmas decorations and presents.
Here are some tips for keeping your Christmas tree green and fresh throughout the entire holiday season this year:
- Pick a healthy Christmas tree: start out on the right foot by selecting a healthy Christmas tree. Look for a Christmas tree with green needles and full branches, avoiding those that already have brown needles or limp branches. Lightly shake your prospective tree and run your hands through the branches to ensure needles don’t come pouring off. This is an immediate sign that this tree is past its prime.
- Trim the trunk: if you’re buying a pre-cut Christmas tree, check the bottom of the trunk to make sure the seller has made a recent cut to help the tree absorb more water. When you bring your tree home, give it a fresh cut if needed. If you’re waiting to put your tree up, store it in a cool area in a gallon bucket of water.
- Keep your tree cool: keeping the temperature around your tree as cool as possible will help to extend its life. If possible, position the tree away from hot air vents, radiators, and even larger electronics like your television. Keep an eye on any extension cords lying around the area, too. While most of us love showing off our trees in front of a large window, try to avoid south-facing windows that will have the sun beating down on your tree throughout the day, effectively drying it out. And of course, never place the tree anywhere near a fireplace.
- Christmas tree lights: choosing the right Christmas lights is also important. Feel free to use a variety of styles, including warm white lights and icicle lights, or opt for miniature LED Christmas lights for decoration, instead of large incandescent bulbs, which will help to keep your tree cool. LED lights are far more energy-efficient and are much cooler to the touch.
Watering Your Christmas Tree
It’s no surprise for anyone with a real Christmas tree that water is the key element in Christmas tree care. But did you know that your tree might consume up to 2 gallons of water in a single day? It’s true, and in fact, fully half of the weight of a Christmas tree is water. So, making sure that your tree has access to plenty of water is job one in keeping your tree fresh and healthy.
Here are some pro tips for making certain that your tree receives plenty of water:
Cut about 1/2 inch off the base before putting the tree in the stand. Do that as soon as you get home with your tree. Just make a straight cut; don’t cut at an angle. And don’t drill holes into the trunk. They don’t help.
Don’t delay getting your tree in the stand: after a fresh cut, your Christmas tree needs water – NOW. However, if you’re not ready to put the tree on display, you can store it in a cool place by making a 1/2-inch cut and standing the tree in a bucket full of water.
Make sure your tree stand has adequate water capacity for your tree. How do you know? Use this rule of thumb: for each inch of stem diameter, your stand should hold at least 1 quart of water.
Check frequently to see that the water level in the stand is OK: When you’re checking the water level, look closely. Depending upon the stand design, it’s possible for water to be present in the stand but below the bottom of the trunk. Check the water level at least once per day to ensure your tree is getting enough moisture.
Whether using an indoor or outdoor Christmas tree this year, here are some things you DON’T need to worry about:
- Don’t bother about the temperature of the water that you add to the stand. Water temperature doesn’t make a significant difference for the health of your tree. Using water straight out of the tap is fine.
- Don’t give the tree anything other than pure water: Many studies have shown that pure water alone will help the tree achieve its maximum useful life. No additives like fertilizer, corn syrup, sugar, or anything else will extend the life of the tree (though some of these ingredients will make the water in the stand emit an unpleasant odor). And adding green food coloring to the water will not make the needles any greener.
- DON’T shave any wood from the sides of the trunk: The outer layers of the trunk perform most of the job of transporting water through the trunk to the rest of the tree. Therefore, if your tree won’t fit in your tree stand due to the width of the trunk, don’t shave off any wood. Instead, it’s time to get a larger tree stand.
Get Started With Pro Level Christmas Tree Care
A pre-lit artificial Christmas tree may be easier to set up and maintain, but sometimes, your heart is simply set on a real Christmas tree. While a real tree may require more work and maintenance, you can keep your tree fresh and green with a few simple strategies. Choose a healthy tree, give it a fresh, even cut before installation, and always keep a close eye on the water levels for your tree.
By lavishing it with the proper care, you can expect your tree to remain fresh and beautiful for well over a month. You can ring in the New Year with a cheery memento of last year’s last holiday still brightening the household. After all, who wants to perform the dreary job of taking a Christmas tree down in the middle of the holiday season?