Selection and Care of Fresh Christmas Trees

There’s nothing like having a fresh Christmas tree in your home for fragrance and beauty. Some of the best varieties for freshness and keeping quality are Fraser Fir, Douglas Fir; Balsam Fir and Scotch Pine. My favorite is Fraser Fir because of its long-lasting fragrance, beautiful pyramid shape, branch flexibility and needle retention. Regardless of what your favorite is, here are some tips to ensure that it stays looking beautiful and fresh throughout the Christmas season.

Make sure that when you select a tree the branches are pliable and not brittle. There should not be excessive needle drop when you shake it and it should appear fresh and green with no broken branches.

You should cut about an inch off the bottom trunk no longer than 1 hour before placing it in the stand. The trunk starts to seal up again after this time period preventing water uptake. Place the tree immediately in your tree stand (or in a bucket of cool water if you don’t plan on setting it up yet) and pour plenty of water in the stand. It is not necessary to use additives to the water. The important thing in preventing a tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard is to give it a constant supply of water. Never let the reservoir become empty. A tree can use up to a quart of water each day for each inch of trunk diameter. So make sure your stand can hold enough for the size of tree you bring home.

For those of us who are concerned with saving our planet’s trees you may be surprised to learn that you may be actually helping the environment by purchasing or cutting down a live tree. Every acre of Christmas trees grown produces enough oxygen for 18 people to breathe. American Christmas tree growers alone produce enough trees to supply daily oxygen for 18 million people. And when growers cut down one tree, they tell us two more are planted in its place! In addition, the farms themselves provide wildlife habitats and aid in soil and water conservation.

After Christmas you can recycle your tree.. Many communities make mulch out of the trees and then offer it back to its citizens free of charge. You can also place your tree outside and make a decorative bird or squirrel feeder out of it all winter long by hanging strings of popcorn, suet cakes or peanut butter pinecones on it. If you have a large yard you may use your tree as a wildlife brush cover or cut off the boughs and use it to help tender garden perennials overwinter.

Whether you enjoy a day in the countryside cutting your own tree or have the fun of selecting one from a local nursery or roadside stand, having a fresh tree can be a wonderful addition to your Christmas this year

Published by Debi

I live in Leesburg, Virginia where I teach high school students in the Agriculture Department. Additionaly, I am self-employed as a horticultural consultant and landscape designer. "Beefriend the Bees!" and "Neither Here Nor There" are children's books I wrote and illustrated available from Amazon ( Chaves&x=12&y=25. Other interests include singing and playing my guitar (also have a CD for sale on Amazon called "Gardening Therapy"); walking my American Bulldog, Cloud and Olde English Bulldogge, Sky; staying active in my local church, and blogging on the

9 thoughts on “Selection and Care of Fresh Christmas Trees

  1. great idea on the many ways to use your Christmas tree. Thanks. Any ideas for our other fresh greens we use for mantels, etc.

    1. Thanks for the question on other uses of fresh greens, Sara. Christmas time is a great time to prune many of your evergreen shrubs and trees such as boxwood, cherry laurel, arborvitae, yew, holly and magnolia. Their clippings are great for use in floral designs in the winter season. After bringing in the house, cut stems on an angle and place in a container of warm water to hydrate. You may add floral conditioner to the water or make your own solution using 1/4 teaspoon bleach plus 1 tablespoon sugar per 1 gallon water or 2 parts water to 1 part lemon-lime soda (not diet). After a couple of hours they are ready to use in arrangements and will usually last for weeks. You can pic the stems in floral foam (use foam for fresh flowers which can be purchased at a craft store)or place in a favorite vase, pitcher, teapot, etc. If you prefer, simply lay the cut greens on a shelf, mantel or table. You may want to protect the surface from sap of pine and spruce. Cut greens out of water usually last about 10 days.
      The fresh greens will add aromatherapy and beauty to your home.

      1. Is it necessary to spray outdoor wreaths with water, for example, those hanging on the door or on a fence or post in the yard.. etc.? Will the wreath last for two weeks or so without water spraying? Thanks for your answer.

      2. This is a good question MG. I have found that spraying wreaths with water doesn’t make them last longer. What will help them last longer is keeping them in a shaded location out of direct sun and/or spraying them with an anti-desiccant foliage sealer which can usually be purchased at a local garden center or craft store.

      3. Thank you, Debi, for the tip on keeping my very beautiful wreath (that I purchased at MTC plant sale) fresh . I would love to keep it till Easter as it is so joyfully adorns my door.

      4. Debi, Can you give me a name of a brand for the wreath spray? Mine are in very direct sunlight. Will the spray help for that?

      5. Stacie ‘Wilt-Pruf’ is one that is widely used and recommended. It can be purchased in a ready-to-use mixture for small jobs or as a concentrate that you can mix if you have lots of spraying to do. Generally cut greens sprayed with it can be kept fresh indoors for about four weeks and even longer outside. Follow the directions as it may not be as effective for some greens such as spruce. “ForEverGreen,” and “Foligard” are a couple of other brand names but I have not used them; check your garden center for these products.

  2. Thanks for the wonderful article about Christmas trees. When I was young my sister and I would go out and cut our own down. The tree always made the house spell so good. We would place sugar water in it every day. It’s good to know I don’t have to add anything but water. Last year I received a Douglas Fir wreath (from Chris and Tammy) and it was so beautiful and made the house smell wonderful. Your article makes me want a real Christmas tree again, but if I don’t I know a real wreath will do. Thanks.

  3. Great advice Debi. I will be sure to use it next year as I have already cheated and purchased a pre-lit artificial.

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