Once Thanksgiving and Black Friday are over, it’s time to think about the Christmas holidays that are only a few weeks away. If you’ve planned to have a genuine, alive Christmas tree to put those presents under, the last thing you want is for it to become droopy and dropping needles everywhere.
Keeping your tree thinking it’s alive for a couple of weeks is the key to slowing down the process you might be dreading. Most Christmas trees are from the pine, spruce, or fir families. So, when you’re shopping for a tree, pay attention to the needles. Each of these evergreens comes with different ways to keep them healthy.
With white pine trees, the needles will grow in groups of five, and they are very long. Many older white pine trees can have needles that can reach up to 16 inches. Identify whether your tree is a white, yellow, or red tree by looking closely at a cluster. This type of tree will usually hang onto its needles longer than other types, but they are hard to handle because the sap is very sticky.
Balsam fir trees have short, flat foliage with needles that seem to be stuck to the branches with a suction cup. The trees smell great, are very aromatic, and the needles will usually last the longest of any of the trees we mention in this article. The only downside is that the branches may be a little more droopy than the other trees.
Black Hills Spruce
You will notice that spruce needles look like they sprout directly out of the tree’s branch. The needles are short and stiff, and the tree isn’t quite as aromatic as Balsam Fir. The good thing is that if you or someone in your family has allergies or scent sensitivity, these may work better for you than a fir tree. But there’s a warning. You must wear work gloves when you handle the tree because the needles are very sharp and spiky. Also, of all the trees in this article, spruce trees shed their needles faster than any of the others.
If you can’t find the species of tree you want the most, don’t worry. Any of these evergreens will last you up to four or five weeks if you take care of it, and it’s relatively fresh when you buy it.
Bringing Your Tree Home
When you bring your tree home, be sure to adjust the room temperature where you plan to put it up. By keeping your tree cool, it will help reduce how much water it loses, and that will extend its life.
Before you pick out a tree, take a measuring tape, and check the exact height of the ceiling is in the room you plan to put the tree. This, of course, ensures that the tree will actually fit in the room. Double-check the width of the doors leading to the room so you will know how to bring the tree into the room.
Once you have measured the environment, it’s time to go shopping. When browsing, make sure the tree you pick out is as fresh as possible. Run one of the branches through your closed hand and see if the needles stay on and the branches are pliable. If any of the foliage is brittle, the bark is wrinkled, or the tree smells musty, find another one.
Once you think you have the perfect tree, measure the width and height to make sure it conforms to the measurements you took earlier in your home. Live trees also need a stand that is capable of holding about a quart of water for each inch of the trunk’s diameter.
If you’re planning on strapping the tree to the top of your car, wrap it carefully so, as you’re driving down the highway, the wind doesn’t dry it out. The last thing you need is to wind up at home with a dried-out tree that was fresh when you left the store or tree farm where you bought it.
Keeping it Alive
Christmas trees will always eventually die, there are no two ways around it. But keeping your tree cool and reasonably moist along with giving it a steady water supply, it will last as long as possible.
When you bring your tree home, saw off about an inch off the bottom before you put it in the stand. This helps the tree to accept water more readily because the first cut will have dried out a little of the trunk.
Be careful erecting the tree. Most tree stands have simple eye bolts that you twist until they secure the tree in place. Make it firm, but do as little damage as possible to the tree, and don’t grind the bolts so they dig deeply into the trunk.
Christmas trees get a lot more thirsty than the plants you normally keep in the house. Make sure you check the water level each day and refill it whenever it gets below the half-way point. And, if your tree slows down absorbing the water, cut off another quarter inch from the bottom to help it along.
Tap water is all you need to keep your tree healthy. Check it every couple of days to make sure it’s not getting too dry. If you see any signs of it dying, take the tree to a colder room or the garage to slow the process down.
Avoid Fire Danger
Avoid sparks around the tree or frayed wires, or even loose bulbs. Anything that can cause a spark near your tree can possibly start a fire, so keep a watchful eye out. And, when you’re decorating, try not to weigh down your tree too much. The more strain you put on the branches, the quicker it will begin suffering.
When disposing of your tree, check your local regulations to see what the sidewalk pickup policy requires. Of, if you have the transportation, take the tree out to the woods and leave it for the local 4-legged friends to have as a new home. But make sure all the tinsel has been taken off the tree since it can poison your animal friends.
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