The key to maintaining you live Christmas tree throughout the holiday is to give it the proper care from the time it is purchased until the tree is removed from your home.
Maintaining a high moisture level in the tree is the single most important factor in reducing needle loss and keeping the tree fresh. This is accomplished primarily through the use of water-holding stands and keeping the water level in the stand above the base of the tree.
The following tips will help you keep your cut Christmas tree healthy through-out the holiday season:
-Use a tree stand with an adequate water-holding capacity. A tree stand should have a water basin that provides 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter. For most Christmas trees, the stand should hold at least 1 gallon of water. A cut tree will absorb a surprising amount of water, particularly during the first week, so replenish the water daily.
-The tree stand should fit your tree. Some stands have circular rings at the top so the ring must be large enough for the trunk of your tree to go through the hole. Avoid whittling down the sides of the trunk to fit a stand. The outer layers of wood are the most efficient in taking up water and should not be removed.
-If the tree is to be stored for more than a couple of days before display, it is advisable to place its trunk in water and store it in a cool, shaded, and protected area such as an unheated garage.
-If the tree has been cut within the past 12 hours, it will not be necessary to re-cut the trunk prior to display indoors. If it has been longer than 12 hours since harvest, the trunk should be re-cut to improve water uptake.
-Cutting off a disk of wood about ½ thick from the base of the trunk is all that is necessary before purring the tree in the stand. Make the cut perpendicular to the stem axis. Don’t cut the trunk at an angle, or into a v-shape, which makes it far more difficult to hold the tree in the stand and also reduces the amount of water available to the tree.
-Keep displayed trees away from sources of heat (fireplaces, heater, heat vents, and direct sunlight). Lowering the room temperature will slow the drying process, resulting in less water consumption each day.
-Do not use additives, such as floral preservatives, commercial tree preservatives, molasses, sugar, bleach, soft drink, aspirin, honey, and other concoctions, in the water. Clean water is all that is need to maintain freshness.
-Displaying trees in water with the proper care is much more effective in reducing fire hazards than spraying trees with flame retardants. Some flame retardants can damage needles and actually increase the rate of moisture loss from trees.
-Monitor your tree for dryness. Run your fingers across the needles to determine whether they are dry and brittle. If the needles break easily or fall off in your hand, the tree is dry and should be removed.
For more information on Caring for your cut Christmas tree contact the Gulf County Extension Service @ 639-3200, 229-2909 or visit our website: http://gulf.ifas.ufl.edu.