Help Your Christmas Tree Last the Season

R. L. Rhodes
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A family picks out a Christmas Tree at their local Home Depot.

If it’s a tradition in your family to rush out as early as you can to get a Christmas tree, then another tradition you may have is fretting over a tree that’s rapidly shedding needles as December marches toward the 25th. It need not be that way, though, provided you know they best way to care for a cut tree.

Priority number one is keeping your Christmas tree from drying out. Start by securing it in a stand with a basin, preferably one that can hold at least 1 quart of water for every inch of the trunk’s diameter.

When the base of a fresh-cut Christmas tree dries out, the tree forms a protective layer of resin over the cut. If you’re buying a pre-cut tree, you’ll want to refresh the cut before you settle your tree in for the holidays. Saw about an inch off of the bottom just before you lock the tree into the stand, and pour in water as soon as possible. That will allow the tree to draw in water more easily. It’s also an opportunity to level out the cut so that the tree stands straight in its stand.

On the first day in particular, your tree will need a great deal of water, so keep an eye on the basin and refill it whenever the level gets low. After that, check the basin at least once a day and add fresh water as needed. Continue until your tree stops absorbing water.

As in real estate, location matters when you’re trying to keep your tree fresh. If possible, avoid placing it near fireplaces or vents. Exposure to those heat sources may dry out your tree, even despite your efforts to keep it watered. If the air in the room tends toward the dry end of the spectrum, setting up a humidifier may also help.

If you have pets you’ll also want to ensure that they’re not drinking the water on the sly. In addition to protecting your floor, decorative Christmas tree skirts that cover the base of the stand can help keep thirsty animals out. Placing a plastic of vinyl sheet between the stand and the floor will help prevent water damage in case of accidental spillage.

With proper care, your tree can last the entire month before it dries out. When the inevitable happens, though, don’t stand on ceremony. A dried-out tree is a fire hazard, and should be removed from your home.

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