Doug Collins, Lee County Extension Coordinator
It’s that time of year again. People are putting up Christmas trees. Whether yours stays fresh until after Christmas, or turns into a needle-shedding fire hazard is up to you.
A cut Christmas tree is a living thing, or at least it was when it was cut. As such, it is perishable.
The first step in making a tree last until after Christmas is to select one that is in good shape. If you are buying a precut tree, gently grasp a branch on your prospective tree and pull your hand over the branch. If needles come off in your hand, don’t take that tree home.
After purchasing the tree and before bringing it inside the house, bump the bottom of the trunk against a hard surface to knock loose needles off of the tree. Then cut an inch off of the bottom of the trunk. You see, after the tree has been cut for a while without being placed in water, a seal forms as the cut. This seal will prevent your tree from taking up adequate amounts of water.
Place the tree in a stand with a water reservoir. Check the water level hourly during the first day to make sure your tree has adequate water. The first several hours after being put into water, your tree will be very thirsty and take up a lot of water. If the water level falls below the cut, a seal will form as previously described and the trunk will need to be cut again.
Make sure all electrical equipment to be put on the tree is in good condition and that there is no worn or broken insulation on the lights. Disconnect lights before going to bed. Keep the house temperature as low as is comfortable. Heat can dry out a tree. Don’t allow pets or small children to climb or pull on the tree. If small children are present, make sure that no dangerous ornaments are placed on the tree within their reach.
Keep the tree away from heat sources and open flames. If the tree becomes dry and needles fall excessively, replace the tree with a new one. As was done when the tree was purchased, gently grasp a branch on the tree and pull your hand over the branch. If the needles come off in your hand, it is time for a new tree. Have a safe and merry Christmas!