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For some people, like Ree Drummond, the only way to get a Christmas tree is to get a real tree. “Part of the beauty of a Christmas tree is the amazing scent that fills your house,” Ree says, “the daily mess of falling needles, the responsibility of keeping it watered, the natural imperfections on this branch or that.”
A freshly cut tree is all part of the Christmas experience. You can even take a trip to a Christmas tree farm to cut your own. But no matter where you get your tree from, if you want it to last more than a few weeks, you’re going to have to give it some TLC. To keep the scent and beauty of your evergreen alive, consider these tips for a healthy tree.
First, don’t place your tree near sunny windows, fireplaces, or heating vents, which will cause it to dry out. Second, if you don’t plan to decorate your tree right away, put it in a shaded or cool area, such as the garage, in a bucket of water for up to a few days. Once you’re ready to put the tree on display, don’t forget to water it! Knowing how to water a Christmas tree is the most important step to keeping it fresh throughout the holiday season. With proper care, a real tree can stay fresh up to five weeks in the house until you're ready to take your tree down.
Here’s how to water your Christmas tree in a few easy steps:
Start with a healthy tree.
If you’re selecting from a tree lot, check for freshness before buying: Grasp the needles and pull your hand down the branch; you should have few, or no, needles remaining in your hand. The tree should also have a soft, supple feel, not a crunchy, crinkly texture. Or you can tap the trunk on the ground and watch for excessive needle drop.
Trim the trunk.
Cut off about 1/2-inch from the trunk before inserting into the tree stand. Don’t cut it at an angle, and don’t drill a hole in the center, which research shows doesn’t improve water uptake.
Choose a big stand.
Many stands are too tiny! The most important thing is to choose a large stand that will not only accommodate the trunk size, but that also will provide enough water for your tree. A fresh tree drinks a lot of water, especially the first few days in the house. Select a stand that can provide one quart of water for every inch of stem diameter.
Water it every day.
Check the water level daily; it will likely need water every single day so that the water level doesn’t go below the base of the trunk. Get down and inspect because some stands still can have water in them, but the trunk isn’t submerged. If the tree isn’t in the water, resin will seal over the base, and it won’t be able to take up any more water.
Avoid Christmas tree additives.
Maybe you’ve heard you should add bleach/ aspirin/ vodka/ commercial tree food to the water to keep it alive. Nope! Trees in nature drink only water, and that’s all they need indoors, too. In fact, more than one study has shown that additives may reduce tree life. Also, water temperature doesn’t matter and won’t affect water uptake.
Use LED lighting.
If possible, choose LED lights, which produce less drying heat for your tree. This is especially important if you love adding lots of lights! LEDs have improved in recent years so that they’re not as harsh and blue-white as they used to be (look for warm white lights for a more traditional look).
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