Picking out and decorating a Christmas tree is a festive, long-standing tradition millions of people enjoy. Whether you cut a tree down yourself or buy one at a store, your live tree can remain healthy and green for up to six weeks with the right care. Here are a few things you can do to help your tree stand the test of time and thrive all season!
Start With the Right Tree
The key to having a Christmas tree that lasts is choosing one that’s healthy from the start. Look for one with plenty of hearty and green (as opposed to brown) pine needles. Then, run your hand over the branches and make sure most pine needles stay intact. If they're falling off easily, the tree is probably not very healthy.
When choosing a tree directly from a farm, opt for one that has been grown or displayed in a shady location instead of an area that receives heavy sunlight. As you’ll find out, that exposure to light can shorten your tree’s lifespan.
Re-trim the Trunk
Even if your tree is freshly cut, it's still a good idea to trim the trunk yourself before setting it up in its stand. This is because the resin can quickly seep out from the cut area and harden. When this happens, the dried-over resin can prevent your tree from absorbing water effectively.
By making your own cut immediately before setting the tree in its stand, you can optimize water absorption—which can help your tree stay healthier for longer. When trimming a trunk, you only need to take about an inch off. For best results, make a straight cut directly across the bottom of the trunk.
Christmas trees need more water than you probably realize. In fact, as a general rule, provide about one quart of water for every inch of the trunk's diameter. For example, if your tree's trunk is three inches in diameter, you'll need to fill the stand with three quarts of water.
From there, make sure you're adding water to your base regularly, so that the recommended amount is always available. Proper hydration is crucial for durability!
When stringing lights on your tree, be mindful of the type you use. Christmas trees are very sensitive to heat, and incandescent lights can dry out the branches and kill off pine needles prematurely.
Whenever possible, use LED lights, as they put out less heat and are more energy-efficient. Also, setting a timer for your lights, so they automatically shut off each day, can help keep your tree properly satiated.
Reduce Exposure to Heat Sources
Ideally, you should set up your tree away from direct heat sources. Proximity to heat vents and fireplaces can make a tree dry out faster, reducing its lifespan. If your tree is displayed in a picture window, keep the curtains drawn during the day to protect it from unnecessary UV exposure.
A little bit of care and planning can go a long way in prolonging the life of your Christmas tree. For more tips on making this holiday season the best one yet, check out our holiday gift guide! Here, you'll find gift ideas for everybody on your list.