If you have a real, cut pine tree to decorate for the holidays, it is important to know how to make a Christmas tree last longer so you can enjoy it throughout the season. From choosing the right tree to caring for it properly, there are several ways you can ensure your Christmas tree stays green and fresh as long as possible.
The fresher a tree is when you purchase it, the longer it will last as part of your holiday decorations. To find the freshest tree…
- Cut It Yourself: If you cut the tree down or choose it from an uncut tree farm, you will know for certain when it was first cut. Trees that arrive in sales lots may have been cut days or weeks earlier and will not last as long once they are decorated and displayed.
- Choose a Reputable Retailer: If you cannot cut the tree yourself, purchase it from a high-quality retailer. Ask questions about where their stock is from and when it was cut, and see how knowledgeable they are about caring for cut trees. Ideally, their trees should be displayed in buckets of water and kept sheltered from wind and sun, both of which can cause cut trees to dry out more quickly.
- Check Appearance: A fresh, healthy tree will be bright green without dull color or browning needles. The limbs should still be somewhat flexible, and it should shed very few needles when tapped or shaken. Choosing the best tree you can find will ensure that it lasts longer in your home.
- Choose a Potted Tree: If possible, consider choosing a live potted Christmas tree instead of a cut one. They will last longer and can be replanted after the holidays to add to your landscaping.
Tips to Make a Christmas Tree Last Longer
Once you have purchased your tree, how long it lasts will depend on how you care for it. With proper care, a cut Christmas tree can last for weeks, easily allowing you to enjoy its beauty for the duration of the holidays.
- As soon as possible, cut approximately 1/2 an inch off the base of the trunk in a smooth, straight cut. This will open the pores through which the tree can absorb water to stay fresh.
- Place the tree in clean, clear water immediately, even if it will not be displayed or decorated for several days.
- When displaying the tree, keep it out of direct sunlight and away from any heat sources such as a fireplace or heating vents. Heat sources will dry the tree out more quickly, causing it to lose its luster sooner.
- If possible, trim away lower branches or any interior branches necessary to shape the tree. Pine trees lose an incredible amount of moisture through their needles, and by removing some of those needles you can help the tree stay fresh longer. Trimming branches will also help the ornaments be more visible and can make it easier to put gifts under the tree.
- Use a tree stand that has a large water capacity. A cut tree can "drink" up to a gallon of water a day, so a stand that can hold at least that much is ideal.
- Refill the water reservoir twice daily to ensure the tree does not run out of fluid. As soon as the bottom of the tree is exposed to air, it will begin forming a sap seal that will prevent it from absorbing water, so it is critical to keep the tree stand filled.
- If the tree appears to be drying out, use warm or hot water to refill the stand. Warmer water can be absorbed more quickly and will help rejuvenate the tree.
- Decorate the tree with LED light strings instead of incandescent bulbs. Incandescent Christmas lights, even mini-lights, give off a lot of heat that will dry out the tree more quickly, but LEDs are a safer option. They also use less electricity, making them a more environmentally-friendly choice.
Commercial preservatives are available that can be added to the water to help make a Christmas tree last longer. While the success of these products can vary, it is easy to make your own solution with the following ingredients.
- 1 Gallon of Water: Water is the most essential ingredient to keep a tree fresh and lush.
- 1.5-2 Cups of Corn Syrup: Corn syrup or sugar will serve as "food" for the tree.
- 3-4 Teaspoons of Lemon Juice: This will raise the acidity of the water, countering hard water and alkaline properties found in most tap water. Vinegar can also be used instead of lemon juice.
- 3-4 Teaspoons of Bleach: The bleach will act as a disinfectant to prevent mold, fungus, or mildew from growing in the tree stand or infecting the tree itself. Do not be tempted to use extra bleach, however, as too much can be harmful to the tree.
When using this homemade preservative or any commercial product, store the water safely (refrigeration is best), and keep pets from drinking from the tree stand.
It is easy to make a Christmas tree last longer if first you choose a fresh, healthy tree and then you care for it properly. With plenty of water, the right location, and careful monitoring, a cut tree can last for several weeks and bring holiday joy into your home throughout the season.