4 Tips For Keeping Your Christmas Tree Alive All Holiday Season

Decorating for the holiday season with a live Christmas tree will fill your home with that woody pine smell. However, while it looks luscious and beautiful, covered in ornaments, a real tree needs to be cared for almost every day to stay alive. It will only take a couple of minutes each day, but if you neglect it, the tree can become a fire hazard. But before getting to the maintenance part at home, you need to pick the perfect Christmas tree first. You can either select one that was pre-cut or a freshly chopped-down one.

When deciding which one will look best in your house, stand 5 to 8 feet away from them and look from different angles. Lowe's explains that you want to look for a symmetrical shape, dense branches, good color, and a pleasant fragrance. Another test you can do is to check how dehydrated the tree is because the dryer it is, the quicker it will die. Shake the branches, and if any green needles fall, the tree desperately needs water; it's okay if brown needles fall. But once you take it home, you need to care for it so it lasts. So, here are a few tips on keeping your tree alive throughout the entire holiday season.

1. Trim the trunk

The first thing you should do to give your tree the longest lifespan possible in your home is trim the trunk. With a handsaw or chainsaw, remove ¼ to 1 inch of the wood trunk, Tree Towne Christmas Trees explains, and make sure the cut is flat and not at an angle or v-shape because then it won't be able to sit on the stand correctly.

Trimming the trunk of a Christmas tree allows it to drink more water because it uncovers the pores in the wood. These are pine or fir trees with sap that will leak out of the freshly cut bark and dry. Once it is dry, it creates a seal that will prevent enough water from absorbing into its whole body. The sap can dry within an hour, so it's essential to do this yourself if it wasn't done when you purchased the tree or if you live far from where you bought it.

2. Keep it away from heat

Heat is the worst thing for your Christmas tree. The trick to keeping it alive is ensuring it is hydrated; exposure to heat will suck the moisture out of it. You should not place your tree near a fireplace, candles, radiator, portable heater, or a south-facing window with direct sunlight. Aire Serv Heating & Air Conditioning also advocates against putting it near air vents because of high indoor temperatures during winter. Ideally, the cooler the temperature is, the less dry the air is. Then, your Christmas tree will stay alive longer and drink less water.

Leaving it near high heat is very dangerous and can result in a house fire. Even faulty or frayed Christmas lights can set a dry tree ablaze. Once they catch fire, the whole sapling will go into flames within seconds. The National Fire Protection Association reported that from 2015 to 2019, there were 160 house fires each year that started from a Christmas tree. So, to avoid this, ensure that once it begins losing needles and the branches droop you get rid of it.

3. Water it every day

Making sure your tree has enough water is the best way to keep it alive for the longest amount of time possible. There are multiple species of Christmas trees, which will drink varying amounts of water, but a tip is that the longer the needles are, the more water they will need. To know if your tree is getting enough moisture, you should check the stand at least once a day, but it's preferable to do so in the morning and evening, according to East River Nursery.

When you look at the tree stand, the trunk should have about 2 inches of water covering it. (Ensure that your tree stand is level, so nothing leaks out). It should also be able to hold at least 1 gallon of water, so you won't have to add more multiple times a day. Providing your Christmas tree with the proper amount of water will keep it alive and lower the chances of it catching on fire.

4. Use Christmas tree preservatives

Adding Christmas tree preservatives to the water is a controversial topic, but many people use these products to keep their décor alive until January. There are commercial products and everyday household items that are said to keep your tree alive and fire-resistant, ranging from Miracle-Gro to sugar and vodka. ThoughtCo. explains that some scientists agree with the product claims, so as long as you properly water your tree, using these things won't be a problem and can give you peace of mind against house fires. For instance, the Plantabbs Products' Prolong Tree Preservative is said to increase water absorption so the needles won't fall, while Miracle-Gro For Christmas Trees claims to contain nutrients that will feed your tree.

On the other side, some scientists say putting preservatives in your tree's water will actually do the opposite. Dr. Kathy Crowley, an assistant professor of plant biology at Unity College in Maine, explained to Verify that putting too much of these additives can cause your tree to absorb less water. So instead, she recommends just using plain water.