Of course, water is key, but there are a few more things you can do to help your Tannenbaum stay fresh and green longer.

By Jennifer Aldrich
December 06, 2019
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Now that it's December, you probably have your Christmas tree up and beautifully decorated. (If you have yet to get your fresh tree, you may come across some slim pickings due to a tight supply this year.) Once you've got it all trimmed with ornaments and lights, you now have one crucial task: preventing your tree from drying out before the holidays are over. Although this sounds like a (literal) tall task, it's not too complicated. We spoke with Tim O'Connor, executive director at the National Christmas Tree Association, to get his recommendations for keeping your tree looking its best all month long.

"You really need to think about a cut tree like a cut flower. It has a shelf life, and it needs proper care," O'Connor says. Once you select your fresh, green tree from the lot, make sure you take an inch off the trunk. You can do this yourself or the place you're buying it from often offers this service. "Sap dries over the trunk, so cutting it will open up the veins," O'Connor explains. Once the trunk is freshly cut, get it into a stand filled water as soon as possible. Plain tap water is fine, and don't be tempted to add anything else like soda to the water because that will only encourage bacteria to grow.

Credit: David A Land

There are many different types of stands, but the best options give one quart of water per inch of stem diameter, according to the National Christmas Tree Association website. A choice we recommend is the Tree Genie Stand, $62.37, at Walmart. It can be adjusted to fit the size of your tree's trunk, straightens the tree, and has a water gauge so you know how much liquid is in the stand at all times. Now that your tree is hydrated, make sure you check on it every single day.  The water level in the stand should not go below the base of the tree so make sure to keep adding more when needed. For a less messy watering situation, try using a funnel to pour the water into the stand. The Home Depot sells a top-rated Christmas tree funnel for just $4.98.

Place your tree away from fireplaces, heaters, and hot lights, all of which may dry it out faster (hello, needles all over the floor). That's why decorating with miniature LED lights, such as Vickerman Multi-Color String Lights, $18.69, at Target, that don't produce much heat is a smart idea.

Unfortunately, your tree won't last forever, and it will really only be good for a little over a month. O'Connor says his family chooses their tree the weekend after Thanksgiving, keep up until New Year's Day, and then recycle it promptly. A dried-out tree is a fire hazard, so it's best to get it out of the house sooner rather than later once the holidays are over.

As long as you monitor the water intake, you should have a fresh-looking tree for several weeks and a very merry (and green) Christmas.


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