How to care for a real Christmas tree

Every year around the holiday season, 25 to 30 million real Christmas trees are purchased from America’s 15,000 tree farms scattered across the country.

The National Christmas Tree Association, the national trade association representing the real Christmas tree industry, has about 700 active member companies and includes 29 state and regional associations – and 4,000 affiliated companies that grow and sell Christmas trees or provide services and supplies.

NCTA has a wealth of information to help true tree buyers choose and care for their perfect Christmas tree. Here are a few tips from NCTA:

Make the cut. Once you’ve selected and brought home your perfect tree, it’s important to properly prepare the tree to go inside. Once brought home, the tree should go into the water as soon as possible. If you select your tree from a select farm and the fresh tree has gone into the water within a short period of time – less than a few hours – you are probably ready to go into stock.

But over time, trees that sit without water for several hours will naturally produce a resin that seals the trunk and this will not allow the fresh tree to absorb water as it should. For this reason, it’s important to always make a fresh cut on these trees about a half inch to an inch from the base of the tree’s trunk. Make the cut perpendicular, not in a V or at an angle, so the tree will stand up straight in your tree stand.

Provide plenty of water. A stand with sufficient water holding capacity is the best way to display your real tree. As a rule of thumb, the NCTA recommends using a stand that provides 1 liter of water per inch of trunk diameter of your tree. If the tree has a 2 inch diameter trunk, the stand should hold at least 2 liters of water.

Keep pouring. In the first week that the tree is indoors, it can absorb more water than you can imagine. This is perfectly normal. There is no need to use warm water or drill a hole in the base of the log. None of these activities increase water intake. The original extra cut at the base does the trick. Make sure the water tank is always full to keep your real tree fresh.

Use common sense. Simple common sense when caring for the tree inside will keep it fresh. Not only do you keep the tree in your stand for optimal water level, but also keep it away from larger heat sources such as chimneys, radiators, space heaters, or direct sunlight, as these will dry out the needles. Use lamps that are safe and produce little heat, such as B. Miniature lamps, as this also reduces drying out. Do not overload electrical circuits and always turn off lights before leaving home or going to bed.

Dealing with dry needles. Before you set up your tree, you may have noticed dry brown or brown needles on the inside of the tree, closer to the trunk. That doesn’t mean your tree has dried out. Most evergreens drop up to 30% of their dry needles from the branches inside the tree each year. Because real trees are typically “shorn” in the summer to produce that pyramidal, desirable shape, this increases the density of needles and branch growth so the winds don’t blow through the tree like a wild periwinkle would.

Therefore, the needles often do not fall off. Most arborists will manually clean the needles or place the tree in a shaker to automatically get rid of most of those dry needles before taking the tree home. If there are still a few left, just manually pull them out with your hands, but wear gloves during this process to avoid handling sticky resin on your fingers and hands.

Recycle. It may be tempting, but never burn any part of your evergreen Christmas tree in a wood stove or fireplace. The resin in these branches and wood can tend to create strong sparks, depending on the species of tree. You can always take your tree to a recycling center, have a nonprofit pick it up, or contribute the tree to a community recycling and mulching program, depending on your location.

These trees can be used as bird feeders in your garden, especially if you hang fresh orange slices or popcorn on the branches that will attract birds. Just make sure no decorations or tinsel are left on the branches.

Real Christmas trees can be mulched, chopped or simply broken apart by hand for use as landscape biomass and mulch around the home or farm. Such chips are well suited as erosion control or for paths and hiking trails, as well as landscape mulch. Some real trees are submerged in private fishponds and provide excellent refuge and foraging areas for fish.

Visit realchristmatrees.org for more information on caring for your real Christmas tree.

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