A dilemma many people around the world face during Christmas: real tree or a fake one? If you are traditional and old-school, then you know that a ‘real’ Christmas tree is the only way to celebrate the season. According to statistics, the average American consumer spent about $78 on a real Christmas tree in 2018. Naturally, the question most people want to be answered is ‘how do I keep my Christmas tree alive longer?’ After all, it is back-breaking work hauling a large, lovely tree indoors and then spending several hours decorating it. So the last thing anyone would want is to have it dry up and shed needles all over their carpet.
In this guide, we will take a look at things you can do and the things you can ‘put in’ the tree’s water to make it last longer and keep it fresh for weeks, even months.
1. Know your tree before you buy
Christmas trees are usually of three types: spruce, pine, and fir. Spruce and fir trees are bestsellers in the US. At first glance, all three types look rather similar. But, while the cones of the fir stand upright, they hang from the spruce before falling off. Spruce cones fall off in one piece, fir cones disintegrate. Fir greens do not prick and are safest for families with kids and pets. If you are living in the North East, you are likely to find spruce and balsam fir. The Douglas fir also has a widening market. In the South West, Arizona cypress is sold as a Christmas tree. White spruce loses its needles quickly in a warm room. Balsam fir has a marvelous fragrance and it holds its needles well. Douglas firs have the right length needles and hold them well in warm rooms. In summary:
- Balsam fir – needles last longer than most trees. They smell great and their boughs are used in making pillows.
- Douglas fir – Perfectly coned tree with lush, full branches. On the downside, this type is expensive.
- Fraser fir – Pyramid-shaped, an attractive tree with great fragrance. Its well-spaced branches show ornaments rather well.
- Scotch Pine – This is a popular Christmas tree in the Mid West. It retains its needles better than most. The colors tend to vary: from bluish tinge to bright green, to dark green,
- Noble fir – The stiffness of this tree’s branches allow for heavier ornaments. The branches of the Noble fir are used for making wreaths. This is a long-lasting, healthier-than-most Christmas tree that is very durable.
- Eastern red cedar – This has shiny, dark greed-red leaves and it gives off a great scent. It only lasts 2-3 weeks. The Eastern Red Cedar is suitable for humid climates.
- Leland Cypress – This is popular in the South East. It has greenish-gray foliage and its scent is light but pleasant. It is ideal for homes with folks having allergies.
2. Buy the right size
Know the height of your living room before you buy your tree. A standard floor Christmas tree is six to seven feet tall. Other sizes are ‘table’ and ‘community’ sizes. Balsam fir and Douglas fir in standard sizes are good choices as they hold their needles well in warm environments. Make sure you allow room for the stands (about a foot) and the treetop.
3. Shake the tree
Older trees tend to lose needles quickly. So give the tree a good shake before you buy one. If the needles fall, it is probably an old tree. Choose one that looks fresh, has sturdy needles, and gives a strong, fresh scent. You can also run your hand down the branch and or reach into the trunk area and scratch the bark. If you can see green on the backside of the bark, it means it is fresh.
4. Saw off a bit of its trunk
The first thing to do when you bring your tree home is to saw off a few centimeters from the bottom of its trunk. Trees need a lot of water and this small act will help them absorb it better. Soak the tree in a pot filled with water for a few hours before bringing it indoors. You can again cut off another few centimeters from the trunk once you bring it indoors. This little DIY will help your Christmas tree last longer as it will help the tree absorb all the nourishing ‘Christmas tree plant food’ that you will be feeding it.
5. Use a good stand
Always use a sturdy stand for the Christmas tree; one which allows you to water it well and also provides support to the tree. A waterproof container works best; you can support the tree with some stones and bricks. If you have pets, use a tree skirt. You don’t want Fido to drink the water from the reservoir.
6. Spray some starch on the needles
Pine needles of Christmas trees will last longer if you spritz it with some fabric sizing or spray starch. Just make sure you do this step before you put on the ornaments and lights. Make sure you put an old plastic cloth or rag under the tree to catch the spills. If spills do occur, mop them up right away else you will have a moldy carpet.
7. Keep your tree away from heat
A cut Christmas tree will last longer indoors if you keep it away from heat sources. So make sure that your tree is away from heaters, fireplaces, and radiators.
8. Water it daily
A cut Christmas tree needs a lot of water. So make sure you water it every day: at least one liter per day. Remember; never let the water reservoir go dry.
9. Use tree preserving ‘Christmas tree plant food’.
Christmas tree plant food – Recipe 1
Here is a great Sugar water recipe that is perfect Christmas tree plant food. It acts as a tree preservative. You can always use chemical preservatives that are readily available in home improvement stores but why buy when you can make your own:
- 1 part sugar
- 3 parts of water
Mix and add to the tree’s roots daily.
Here is another answer to what to put in the Christmas tree water to keep it fresh longer:
Christmas tree plant food – Recipe 2
- 1 tbsp bleach
- A cup of white corn syrup
- 1-gallon hot water
Boil water and stir in the bleach and corn syrup. Cool slightly and add to the tree reservoir with every other watering.
To preserve a Christmas tree to make it last longer, use the following recipe:
Christmas tree plant food – Recipe 3
- Mix a gallon of hot water with 4 tbsp of iron powder which you can easily pick up from garden stores.
- Next, add in 4 tbsp bleach and 2 cups of corn syrup.
- Stir the mixture well.
- Add it to the tree’s stand.
Use these tips and your Christmas tree will remain fresh for a long time to come!