How To Choose and Care For Christmas Trees

How To Choose and Care For Christmas Trees

Sod University

How To Choose and Care For Christmas Trees

Every family has their own set of traditions but one tradition that keeps coming up in our office chatter is, “When does everyone get their Christmas tree?” There were a range of questions that included: Do you chop down your own tree or get it at a store? Real vs. artificial? How big of a tree? We wanted to take this week to step inside the house and talk about Christmas trees. We specifically discuss chopping your own vs. buying a pre-cut tree, how to prepare your tree, and how to keep your tree alive.

How To Shop For a Christmas Tree

Freshness is key when looking for a Christmas tree. The more fresh the tree is, the more likely it will last a long time. The freshest way to get a tree would be to cut it down at a local farm. This may not be an option if you don’t live near a local farm.

If you need to purchase a pre-cut tree from a nursery or a store, ask the staff how recently the trees were harvested and where they came from. If the tree has been cut and not properly cared for, then it will most likely dry out and not last long in your house. Another way to check is to feel the needles of the tree. The needles should be flexible and strong. If they are dry and brittle, then the tree is dry and you will want to move on to another tree. Ultimately, the fresher the tree, the longer it will last in your living room.

One thing to keep in mind is that most people put their tree on the roof of their car and without wrapping it. If you are driving a long distance or going to be traveling at high speeds, you should wrap your tree in a plastic tarp or blanket to protect it from the winds. High-speed winds can severely dry out and damage your tree.

How To Prepare Your Tree

Regardless of if you have purchased a pre-cut tree or cut your own, we still recommend cutting anywhere from 0.5–1.5 inches off the bottom of the tree before placing it in its stand. After a tree is cut, its sap will start to seal over the base of the tree and impact its ability to absorb water and nutrients. It takes about 2–3 hours for your tree to seal over the base. If you don’t do the extra cut, be sure to check on your tree regularly in the first few days to ensure your tree is drinking enough water. It may require you to take the tree out of its stand and make a fresh cut on its base.

After you make the fresh cut, you will want to prune back some of the lower branches to ensure it fits in the stand, and then you should follow the instructions on your stand to install the tree properly. After it is securely in its stand, be sure to fill it up with water as soon as possible and keep a close eye on it to make sure the tree is drinking a proper amount of water (up to one gallon) in the first day. In addition to planning where you want to set up your tree, try to stay away from extra sunny areas, heating vents, or even extra cold areas. Your tree wants a moderate climate that does not fluctuate too much. Warm and sunny locations can dry out your tree quickly and create a fire hazard as well.

How To Care For Your Tree

People add Tylenol, sugar, and all sorts of things to their tree water, but none of these have been widely accepted by experts. The primary way to keep your tree alive is to ensure it always has plenty of water to drink. If you start to notice that your tree is drying out, one option is to bring a humidifier in the room to help keep moisture in the air. Overall, it should be easy to keep your tree alive as long as you choose a fresh tree and make a fresh cut before putting your tree in a stand and allow it to absorb liquids easily.

Want to learn more about achieving a great lawn? Check out our other Sod University tips here.