5 tips for Christmas tree care this season
Plastic Christmas trees may be easier to set up, but there’s no substitute for the beauty and fragrance of the real thing, whether you cut a tree yourself or choose one from a tree farm.
Real Christmas trees are a magical part of the holiday season, but they do take a little extra effort to maintain. Here are five tips for caring for your Christmas tree this season, all thanks to the National Christmas Tree Association:
1. Make sure you have a fresh tree to begin with
To be sure you’re buying a fresh tree, the National Christmas Tree Association recommends doing a ‘branch/needle test’: “Run a branch through your enclosed hand—the needles should not come off easily,” the NCTA says. “Bend the outer branches—they should be pliable. If they are brittle and snap easily, the tree is too dry.”
2. Use the right amount of water
A traditional reservoir stand is the way to go, says the NCTA. Be sure to place the tree in water as soon as you get it home, and as a rule of thumb, you should use 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter. Check the water levels daily to ensure the trunk is still fully submerged. The temperature of the water is not important.
3. Avoid whittling the trunk
Be sure to use a stand that fits your tree so you don’t have to whittle down the trunk to fit. “The outer layers of wood are the most efficient in taking up water and should not be removed,” the NCTA says. Also, there’s no need to drill a hole in the base of the trunk; contrary to popular belief, this does not improve the tree’s ability to absorb water.
4. Keep your tree away from heat sources
The NCTA recommends using low-heat lights, such as miniature lights, to reduce drying. Keeping the room temperature low and keeping your tree away from heating vents and direct sunlight will also reduce the amount of water the tree must use each day, slowing the drying process. And, of course, keep your tree away from fireplaces and heaters to reduce the risk of fire.
5. Dispose of your tree the right way
When it’s time to take down your tree, don’t throw it in a dumpster or leave it on the curb. Christmas trees can be recycled for mulch, and many communities have recycling programs that accept trees after the holidays at no charge. Some areas also offer mulching programs that allow you to use the mulch from your tree in your garden. The NCTA provides some other creative recycling options, such as placing your tree in the yard for use as a bird sanctuary. “Fresh orange slices or strung popcorn will attract the birds and they can sit in the branches for shelter,” says the Association. “Eventually (within a year) the branches will become brittle and you can break the tree apart by hand or chip it in a chipper.”
Check out the National Christmas Tree Association website for more tips for choosing and caring for your tree this season!