Real, cut Christmas trees are easy to care for. Knowing how to care for your tree ensures maximum enjoyment throughout the holiday and enhances those memories of your perfect tree. These tips from the National Christmas Tree Association will help you buy and care for your cut Christmas tree.
How to Care for a Fresh, Cut Christmas Tree
Just before you set up your tree, make a fresh straight cut across the base of the trunk, about half an inch up from the original cut, and place the tree in a tree stand that holds a gallon of water or more. If you do not cut off some of the trunk, the tree will not be able to absorb water, and it will dry out and become a fire hazard. If you have freshly cut your tree at the farm, this is not entirely necessary. However, if it is a pre-cut tree or you have let it sit before bringing it inside it is recommended.
Make sure your tree stand will hold enough water for the size of your tree. Measure the diameter of your tree trunk inches. This is how many quarts of water your tree stand should be able to hold. For example, if it measures six inches across, then you need six quarts of water.
Keep the tree stand filled with water. A seal of dried sap will form over the cut stump in four to six hours if the water drops below the base of the tree. If a seal does form, you will have to make another fresh cut, which is much harder to do when the tree is decorated.
A tree will absorb as much as a gallon of water or more in the first 24 hours and one or more quarts a day thereafter. Water is important because it prevents the needles from drying and dropping off and the boughs from drooping. Water also keeps the tree fragrant.
For safety, keep your tree away from all heat sources, such as fireplaces, radiators, baseboard heat, portable heaters, television sets, and heat vents. Not only can all of these can make the tree dry out faster, but can also contribute to setting a tree on fire.
If you purchase a real Christmas tree, locate a recycling program in your area for when you need to get rid of it.
Caring for a Live Dug Tree
An increasingly popular option for Christmas trees is purchasing a live tree, to be planted on your property after the holidays. With a live tree, you have to consider more than what type of tree appeals to you.
Store the tree in a cool area, protected from winds, freezing temperatures and direct sunlight until you are ready to decorate. Be sure to check the root ball often to ensure it does not dry out.
Once inside, keep the tree away from sources of heat such as radiators, vents or fireplaces. It will still do best in cool temperatures around 60 to 65 degrees F.
It is best to keep the tree indoors for as brief a time as possible, not more than two weeks.
Planting Your Tree Outside
Dig the planting hole for the balled tree at the same depth as the height of the root ball. Make the diameter of the hole two to three times the overall root ball diameter.
Remove all broken and dead branches from the tree using pruning shears.
Set the tree into the planting hole. Align the top of the soil level of the balled tree with the existing soil level in the new location.
Cut away the twine or the wire cage using the knife or wire cutters. Fold the twine or wire down inside the hole. It is not necessary to remove the twine or wire from the hole.
Pull back the burlap from the top of the root ball. Fold the burlap down around the outside perimeter of the roots. Natural burlap will decompose in the hole. If synthetic burlap is wrapped around the roots, it will have to be removed from the hole.
Fill the hole with approximately one-third of the native soil. Add water to settle the soil around the roots. Continue to add soil to the two-thirds level. Add water and allow the soil to settle. Fill the hole with soil. Add water one more time to finish removing air from around the roots and improve the soil contact.
Layer mulch around the tree to a depth of three to four inches. Keep the mulch 12 inches away from the trunk to discourage rodents from chewing on the tree.