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GardenSMART :: Answers to Your Top Christmas Tree Care Questions

Answers to Your Top Christmas Tree Care Questions

By The Davey Tree Expert Company
Photographs courtesy of The Davey Tree Expert Company

In spring, summer and fall, we find ourselves planted in front of our windows – gazing out in wonder at the trees that dot our yards. But as the year comes to a close, many of us bring that joyful greenery indoors. Yes, we're talking about the wonder and magic of live Christmas trees.

The intoxicating scents. The burst of life. The twinkling lights that make hearts skip a beat…

…and the prickly, painful and messy needles that line the floor.

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"Caring for Christmas trees is a lot like caring for any tree," says Kevin Bosworth of Davey's Portland, Maine, office. "It all starts with finding the right tree and then giving it enough water to keep on going. If you do that, you'll have fewer problems."

Below, Bosworth answers the top questions about how to keep Christmas trees looking good all season.

Everything You Need to Know About Keeping Your Christmas Tree Fresh 

Are some trees more likely to lose their needles than others?

"Yes. Some tree species are more likely to do that," says Bosworth.

He recommends choosing firs, which hold on to needles, while avoiding spruces.

"Spruces are notorious for dropping needles," Bosworth says. "Pines are in the middle. They drop some needles but not a ton."

Or you could go for a live Christmas tree with a root ball. Because it's still living, it's much less likely to shed needles. Plus, you can plant it in your yard when the season is over. Of course, this works better if you have a mild winter that doesn't freeze the ground.

No matter what tree type you get, you've got to pick one that's fresh and healthy! If you can, opt to cut down your own tree at a Christmas tree farm. If you buy a pre-cut tree, give it a hearty shake to make sure the needles don't fly off. Its problems will only get worse when you get home.

Should I drill a hole in my Christmas tree trunk or add sugar to the water?

Bosworth is sorry to say that both of those are essentially urban myths.

Drilling a hole in the trunk doesn't increase water intake. But if you bought a pre-cut tree, it's worth making a fresh cut at the base. That can make a big difference.

As far as adding sugar, bleach, aspirin or anything else to your tree's water, Bosworth advises against it. Instead, he says you should focus on making sure your Christmas tree always has enough water. Check daily to make sure the stand remains full – especially during the first week. If your tree is taking up a lot of water, that is a good sign!

You don't want the basin to run out of water because the tree may seal its base with sap, drastically reducing its ability to absorb water.

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How can I keep my Christmas tree fresh?

Bosworth reiterates that water is the most important way you can help your Christmas tree stay green.

He also suggests placing it out of direct sunlight, keeping it far away from your heating sources and even reducing the room temperature a bit. You can even opt for smaller or LED lights on the tree. Since they produce less heat, there's less chance of them drying out the tree.

No need to use an anti-transpirant or anti-desiccant spray on your Christmas tree, though. While that can help evergreens that are outside from drying out, they don't do much for indoor plants.

If you care for your tree using these tips, it should stay looking as-good-as-can-be for up to five weeks.

Need help making your outdoor trees look as good as your Christmas tree? Contact your local Davey Tree arborist for a free consultation.

With more than 9,000 employees throughout North America, The Davey Tree Expert Company provides solutions for residential, utility, commercial and government clients. Rooted in research, the company's vision is to achieve balance among people, progress and the environment. Tree experts since 1880, Davey provides diversified tree services, grounds maintenance and environmental services. Davey is one of the largest employee-owned companies in the U.S. and is headquartered in Kent, Ohio.


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