Important Tips on Caring for Your Christmas Tree
Start with a healthy tree – The tree should not be losing green needles or have a sour, musty smell. Old dead needles from the inside of the tree does not indicate that there is a problem with the tree. We will shake the tree to remove these needles, and reduce the potential for a mess inside the home.
Do not buy a tree that is too large for the area where it will be displayed. You may have to cut off a large section of the lower trunk, and possibly the lower whorl of branches. This might ruin the appearance of the lower part of the tree.
Note the location of large branches at the bottom of the tree. Be sure that the handle is long enough to allow display of the tree without cutting off the lower whorl of large branches.
If the transport time from the farm is more than 15 min, it is best to wrap the tree in a tarp, or carry it in an enclosed camper or the back of a pick-up. Strong wind or highway speeds can damage a tree in a short time.
When loaded on top of a car, put the bottom of the tree aiming forward to protect the needles from being blown off.
If the tree is carried on the outside of a vehicle, tie it securely!
If you need to store the tree before bringing it in the house, keep out of the sunlight. Do not leave a cut Christmas tree lying in the sunshine for long periods of time, especially if air temperatures are warm. Fresh trees dry rapidly in those circumstances.
Keep it in water – If a tree cannot be immediately displayed in water, make a fresh cut on the base of the trunk, and stand it in a bucket of water in a cool, shaded location, either indoors or outdoors. When the tree is displayed in a water holding stand, a second fresh cut is probably unnecessary, but might enhance water uptake. Or, use hot water for the first watering to help open any sap filled areas.
If your tree is stored for a while you may need to cut off a disk of wood about 0.5 to 1 inch thick from the base of the trunk immediately before putting the tree in the stand. Make the cut perpendicular to the stem axis. Do not cut at an angle, or into a v-shape, which makes it far more difficult to hold the tree plumb in the stand, and reduces the amount of water available to the tree. Do not cut off too much trunk, resulting in a handle too short for the stand. This would lead to the situation described above.
Use a stand that fits your tree. Some stands have circular rings at the top, so the ring must be large enough so the trunk goes through the hole. Other stands are open, which allows more range in trunk size. Avoid whittling the sides of the trunk down to fit a stand. The outer layers of wood are most efficient in taking up water and should not be removed.
Use a tree stand with an adequate water holding capacity for the tree. Using stands that are too small is a very common mistake. Fresh trees use about 1 quart of water per day per inch of trunk diameter. The stand should hold enough water to last 24 hours. If the stand goes dry and is subsequently refilled, water uptake may stop or be severely limited, leading to premature drying.
Keep your tree away from heat! Keep trees away from heat sources like fireplaces, heaters, heat vents, and direct sunlight. Lowering the room temperature will slow drying, resulting in less water consumption.
Lights – Use only UL approved lights and electrical cords and devices on trees. Check electrical cords and lights for damage prior to placement on the tree. Make sure all connections are tight and complete. Turn off tree lights when you go to bed or leave the house.
Always keep the tree stand filled with water. Dried sap will form a seal over the cut stump within several hours if the water level falls below the base of the tree. If this occurs, make another fresh cut in the butt-end and promptly fill the stand with water. Use hot tap water which will soften sap and facilitate absorption.
How much water – A tree will absorb as much as a gallon of water or more in the 24 hours after it is cut, and one or more quart everyday after. Maintaining a steady water level prevents the needles from drying out and dropping off and the boughs from drooping. Water will also keep the tree fragrant. Do not allow the water pan to empty or go below the tree base.
When you choose to decorate your home with a real Christmas tree, there are steps you can take to keep the tree green, healthy and safe throughout the holiday season.