If you have a real, cut 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.
Get the Freshest Tree Possible
The fresher a Christmas tree is when you purchase it, the longer it will last as part of your holiday decorations. There are a few tricks to ensuring that you're getting the freshest tree.
Cut It Yourself
If you cut the tree down or choose it from a 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 the Tree's Overall 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.
It pays to take some time really checking any potential trees over. Choosing the best tree you can find will ensure that it lasts longer in your home.
Or, 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.
Trim the Base
As soon as possible, cut approximately 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.
If you can do this as soon as you get your tree home, all the better; that will allow it to start drawing up fresh water almost immediately.
Place the Tree in Water
Place the tree in clean, clear water immediately, even if it will not be displayed or decorated for several days. A large bucket, wash tub, or even the tree stand you plan to display it in are all good options.
No matter how you store it before bringing it inside to decorate it, you'll want to make sure it always has water. Check the water level daily and add more if it's getting low.
Choose the Best Location for Your Tree
Where you place the tree once you bring it into your home has a definite impact on how long it will stay fresh.
- Keep the tree out of direct sunlight.
- Don't place the tree near heat sources, such as fireplaces or heating vents. Heat sources will dry the tree out more quickly, causing it to lose its fresh, green look sooner.
Trim the Tree's Branches
If possible, trim away the 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. You can easily remove smaller branches with a pair of garden pruners. For larger branches, you might need a small saw or garden loppers.
Maintain the Water Level
The most important thing to keep in mind once your tree is inside is to make sure it never lacks fresh water. The easiest way to do this is to 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.
You'll also need to check and possibly 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. Once the end of the trunk seals and it can't take up water anymore, the tree will dry out quickly.
If you do forget to refill the reservoir and 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. This will work best if you catch it early.
Just by making sure your tree has plenty of water, it'll last at least five weeks in your home, maybe even more. So this definitely is something you'll want to pay close attention to.
Choose Cooler-Burning Lights
The type of lights you use can also keep your tree fresh longer. 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.
Tree Preservatives: Helpful or Not?
There are many recipes and recommendations for things you can add to your tree water to preserve your Christmas tree and keep it fresh longer. These range from commercially available tree preservatives, to aspirin, to sugar water and concoctions that have bleach in them.
Research performed by arborists and other plant scientists is fairly comprehensive about what is recommended: nothing. Just water. Adding things like sugar, aspirin, or bleach to your tree water doesn't help. It might not hurt, but it won't make your tree last longer.
Just keep the tree watered, and don't let it dry out.
Fresh Tree, Ample Water
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, which mostly entails making sure it doesn't dry out. 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.