Like your other houseplants, Christmas trees need special care to stay at their best throughout the holidays. The right kinds of watering, placement, preparation, and even transportation to your home all play a role in preserving their longevity and preventing needle loss. Here are our best care tips for keeping your fresh-cut tree fresh this holiday season!
Set Up Your Christmas Tree at the Right Time
While it’s tempting to rush out right after Thanksgiving and choose a tree, keep in mind that fresh-cut Christmas trees only last indoors for about 4-5 weeks. Because of this limited timeframe, setting your tree up 2-3 weeks before Christmas is ideal; after all, you don’t want to set it up too early only to have it lose its needles by the time of the big day. With that said, if you do buy your tree early to avoid the rush, you don’t have to bring it inside right away. Instead, keep it outside while you wait for set-up time, as the cold temperatures will help preserve your tree until you’re ready to decorate.
Choose a Fresh Tree
Most trees you find are cut fresh within days or up to a week of arriving there. Still, it doesn’t hurt to check the tree and test it yourself. Shake the tree, check its branches for any brown spots, and gently drop its base on the ground a few times. While it’s normal for a few needles to shake off, a fresh tree will retain most of them. Another sure sign of a good tree is a fresh fragrance, so don’t be afraid to give them a good sniff!
Prevent Moisture Loss During the Ride Home
Remember that this beautiful tree you just bought is still living, breathing, and trying to retain as much moisture as possible. Many people strap it to the top of their car without thinking twice, but the rushing wind on the drive home can quickly dry out your tree’s needles. If you plan to tie it to the roof, wrap it in a tarp or blanket first.
Give Your Christmas Tree a Fresh Cut
Even if your tree just got to our garden center before you bought it, you’ll still want to give the stem another fresh cut before setting it up. That’s because the tree’s sap seals the wound within 4-5 hours of cutting. If you plan to leave the tree outside for a few days, there’s no need to cut the base right away. Instead, wait until you’re ready to bring it inside to saw 1-2 inches off the base, to make it easier for it to drink fresh water.
Keep Your Tree Away From Heat
While it’s tempting to place your tree in a warm and cozy spot, make sure you don’t place it too close to a fireplace, furnace, or any other heat source. Heat will dry your tree out faster, leading to more needles on the floor. Instead, choose a place where your evergreen can enjoy a comfortable climate.
Water —and Rewater —Your Tree Often
Remember to fill your tree’s basin with water soon after set-up, and keep a close eye on its water levels; you’ll be surprised at how fast a thirsty tree can drink a few gallons. Always refill the basin before the water falls below the base of the trunk. That way, your tree will always have as much water as it needs, and its needles will stay on for longer.
Turn On Your Christmas Lights Strategically
The purpose of a Christmas tree is to enjoy its beautiful decorations, especially the lights. However, keep in mind that Christmas lights—especially incandescents—kick off a lot of heat. This doesn’t mean you have to skip the lights altogether, but just remember to turn them off when you’re not enjoying your tree.
Use an Anti-Desiccant
Anti-desiccants give your tree an extra hand in preventing needle loss. They act as a type of sealant, helping to lock moisture in. If you plan to use one, remember to spray it outside and wait until the tree is dry before bringing it back into your home.
So, what’s the best way to care for a fresh-cut Christmas tree? At the end of the day, it all really comes down to moisture retention. Choosing a fresh tree, wrapping it on the way home, recutting for water access, regularly topping its water up, and keeping it away from heat are the most important steps; follow them the best you can, and your tree will be looking gorgeous all season long!
For more guidance on fresh-cut Christmas tree care, or for answers to any other commonly-asked plant questions, visit our garden center in Moultonborough, NH, today! Also, don’t forget to follow our Facebook or Instagram pages for updates and featured products.