We talked to experts and got their advice for keeping your Christmas tree looking fresh throughout December. Alicia Stice
Before you go out and shell out on average nearly $80 for a store-bought cut Christmas tree, here’s what you need to know about selecting and caring for your tree, according to the National Christmas Tree Association:
What’s the first thing I should do?
Measure the height and width of the space you have for your tree, and take a tape measure with you when you shop for your tree. Most trees on tree farms are trimmed to an 80% taper, so a tree that’s 10 feet tall will be 8 feet wide at the bottom.
What species of tree should I buy?
That depends on your own taste. Think about what type of decorations you will use as you’re looking at trees. Some species have open foliage, stiffer branches and longer needles, while others have branching that is compact.
What should I look for at a store?
Look for trees stored in a shaded area, as this helps prevent drying out, and ask the retailer when the trees were cut and delivered.
How do I tell if it’s fresh?
Try these steps:
- Run a branch through your enclosed hand. Some older interior needles will fall off, but the needles should not come off easily.
- Bend the outer branches. They should be pliable. If they are brittle and snap easily, the tree is too dry.
- Bounce the tree on the ground, if an excessive amount of needles fall off, select another tree.
- Look for discolored foliage and wrinkled outer twigs, which are indications the tree is dry.
Where should I put my tree?
It’s best to put your tree away from heat sources. If you have to put it near a heat register vent, close the vent, if possible.
Do I really need to do a fresh cut before putting my tree in a water stand?
Yes. After three to six hours of being cut and not being placed in water, the tree’s water absorption capability is compromised.
What kind of cut should I make?
You only need to cut a half-inch off the bottom, and you should make it a straight cut. Cutting at a taper or an angle requires more water depth to cover the cut surface and makes it more difficult to hold the tree upright in the stand.
Should I add bleach, aspirin, fertilizer or other things to the water to make my tree last longer?
No. Research shows that plain tap water is best. Some commercial additives and home concoctions can be detrimental to a tree’s moisture retention and increase needle loss.
How often should I water the tree?
That depends on if the tree is in sunlight in your home and how warm it is in the home, as warmer temperatures will result in more drying out and more water consumption.
When you first purchase your tree and set it in the house, it will drink large amounts of water the first week. Generally, a tree can absorb up to one quart of water per day for each inch of stem diameter. If your tree has a four-inch diameter, your stand should hold at least one gallon of water. If it doesn’t hold that much, you will need to check the water more frequently. Larger-capacity stands require less frequent water level checks and add to stability.
What if my tree doesn’t seem to be absorbing water?
A tree freshly cut from the forest or a tree farm will not absorb water right away since it has not had time to begin drying out. The rate of water absorption will fluctuate from day to day and decrease if the tree is properly watered from the beginning.
What if I didn’t make a fresh cut when I put it in the stand?
The tree will still take up water but at a reduced rate. Hot tap water in the tree stand increases water uptake in some trees.
From an environmental standpoint, should I buy a real Christmas tree?
Consider this: About 98% of Christmas trees are commercially grown, just like any other crop. Those cut in national forests are done in areas to help reduce wildfire risk.
If you chose a real tree, be sure to recycle it properly when you’re done with it. Many discarded trees are used for mulch and submerged in lakes to improve fish habitat.
You can recycle your Christmas tree for free at these locations Dec. 26 through Jan. 20:
- Edora Park, 1420 E. Stuart St. (tennis court parking lot)
- Rolland Moore Park, 2201 S. Shields St. (southeast corner parking lot)
- City Streets Facility, 625 Ninth St. (southwest corner of Vine and Lemay)
- Fossil Creek Park, 5821 S. Lemay Ave. (enter on Lemay)
- Larimer County Landfill, 5887 S. Lemay Ave.
- Wellington Recycling Drop-off (corner of Sixth and Grant)
Don’t forget to remove all items from your tree before dropping it off. That includes lights, wire, hooks, ornaments, tinsel and fake snow. Learn more at www.fcgov.com/recycling/holiday-recycling.
Cut your own tree
Where: Canyon Lakes Ranger District of the Roosevelt National Forest near Red Feather Lakes
Directions: Take U.S. Highway 287 north of Fort Collins for 21 miles. At Livermore, turn left onto Red Feather Lakes Road (Larimer County Road 74E) and travel approximately 16 miles to the Boy Scout Road (County Road 68C). Turn left on the Boy Scout Road and drive 7 miles to the entrance of the cutting area. Signs or staff will provide directions.
When: 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday through Dec. 15. Visitors are asked to be out of the area by 4 p.m. During weekends, staff will be on hand, as will Smokey Bear.
Cost: $20 per tree
Permits: You can pay cash at the entrance the first two weekends in December when site is staffed or buy your permit online or at the Canyon Lakes District Office, which is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays at 2150 Centre Ave., Building E.
Information: Visit www.fs.usda.gov/detail/arp/passes-permits
Read or Share this story: https://www.coloradoan.com/story/news/2019/12/04/how-pick-christmas-tree-care-tips-water-recycle/2596258001/