Christmas Tree Care Tips
December is coming, which means that winter is here, but it also means that Christmas is coming quickly. It is time to start decorating the house, which comes with setting up the Christmas tree. Edmonton’s families make it a tradition to venture out and find a “real tree” to make their home feel extra Festive. Here is your guide to Christmas tree care in Edmonton!
When trying to find the perfect tree for the holidays, many people wonder, “what do I need to look for to ensure that I get the best tree so that it lasts through Christmas?”
While you may want your real Christmas tree to stay fresh and last well into the new year, you could likely end up with a dry and brittle tree before December 25th. It takes only a few days of heat and neglect to dry your fresh tree, which would be the worst-case scenario during the holiday season. So, we have compiled some tips for ensuring that your tree looks alive and well on Christmas morning.
Choose a Healthy Christmas Tree
The first thing you should consider is if you prefer to buy your tree from a garden store, grocery store or roadside lot. It is likely that it came from out-of-province and may have had exposure to drying winds during transit. If you want to start with the freshest possible tree, we suggest picking one up from your local Christmas tree farm. Freshly cut Christmas trees are farmed specifically for their purpose and to support local agriculture. Either way, knowing how to choose the best Christmas tree is imperative.
Follow these tips on how to shop for a Christmas tree:
- Look for a healthy, green tree with the least amount of brown needles.
- Find a tree that is in a shady location, as ones that have been in the sun tend to be drier and more brittle.
- Run a few branches through your hands. The needles should feel pliable and not fall off.
- Raise the tree a few inches, then drop the trunk into the ground. You may see a few brown needles fall off, but the green needles should remain intact.
- As reported by growers, the top-selling Christmas trees are the Scotch pine, Douglas fir, white pine, and balsam fir, in that order.
- If you want to keep your Christmas tree potted and in the house after Christmas, a Norfolk Island pine would be the best choice—they are commonly kept as houseplants. Check with a local florist or nursery in your area.
If you’re buying a tree that can get replanted later, keep in mind that a tiny percentage of these trees survive after being indoors in the winter. To give them the best chance of survival:
- Leave in-house for a MINIMUM of five days.
- Give them 2 to 3 days to adjust by letting them sit (in water) in a garage or “in-between” transitional spot before and after they are in the home.
- The initial water used should be WARM tap water.
Trim the Trunk…..then Trim It Again
When you decide on the tree that is right for you, make sure the seller makes a fresh cut straight across the base of the trunk to aid water absorption. Doing this will eliminate any dried-over resin that might block the tree from absorbing water. When you get the tree home, place it in a bucket of water if you’re not putting it up immediately. (Note that you should always store real trees in an unheated garage or area protected from wind and freezing temperatures.)
When you’re ready to bring it inside, make another fresh one-inch cut off the bottom of the trunk. Once inside, please place it in a sturdy stand that holds at least one gallon of water.
Make Sure Your Christmas Tree Always Has Enough Water
You must regularly give your Christmas tree water — too little can cause resin to form, which reduces the tree’s ability to absorb water, and it will dry out quickly. Here’s an easy way to figure out how much water your tree needs:
For every inch of the trunk’s diameter, fill the stand with one litre of water.
You may have heard people adding bleach, corn syrup, aspirin, and sugar to the water, but it is unnecessary. Most experts agree that plenty of plain water is all you need to keep a tree fresh. Just remember to check the water level daily — it should always cover the cut end of the trunk. Refill as needed
Another tip is to lower the temperature in the room where the tree gets set up. Doing so can help slow down the drying process and result in your tree requiring less water (according to the National Christmas Tree Association).
Keep It Away From Heat Sources
We can all agree that nothing signifies Christmas more (aside from Santa & Rudolph) than a beautifully decorated Christmas tree beside a roaring fireplace. Along with sunlight radiators, air ducts and stoves, a regularly used fireplace could contribute to your tree drying out at a much quicker pace. If your home is prone to dryness, try using a humidifier to add moisture to the room.
Take Your Tree Down Before It Dries Out
For those who enjoy the look, feel and smell of a natural Christmas tree, we also know the hassle of dealing with mounds of dead pine needles if you allow your tree to stick around past its prime. If you do get to enjoy the dreaded dry needle infestation, the easiest way to clean up fallen needles is by using your vacuum’s hose. Skip the fancy attachments and use the end of the hose to draw needles directly into the bag or canister.
You have a couple of options when you no longer need your tree. You can start a new compost pile with it, recycle it, or turn it into mulch yourself. (Pick-up for homes, recycling centres, or eco-centres for Apartments/condos.)
Reusing Your Christmas Tree After the Holidays
For those who are more crafty or creative, consider some options before you toss this year’s Christmas tree onto the compost pile or the curb! Check out these ways to get the most out of an old tree!
- Prop up your old tree near your bird feeder as a staging area for small birds, such as chickadees and finches.
- Trim the branches from the tree and saw the trunk into several pieces. Tie the pieces together and store the bundle in the cellar or garage. You can use them to make an aromatic Yule fire in your fireplace next Christmas Eve.
- Create a bird feeder and haven. String your tree with orange slices, cranberries, homemade suet and other bird-friendly goodies, and put it in a sheltered location.
- Use the branches and pine needles as mulch in the garden.
- Use boughs from your tree to shade broad-leaved evergreen shrubs, insulate perennials, or protect against frost and snow.
- Create small fragrance pillows by stuffing them with the fir tree’s foliage.
- Sew scraps of fabric together and fill them with the needles to make fragrant balsam sachets to freshen drawers and closets
- Use dried-out sprigs to ignite kindling in your wood stove or fireplace.
For any advice on trees or Christmas trees, contact Mike at Arbor Man Tree Care!