As the holiday season jingles its way in, families everywhere are embracing the joy of a live Christmas tree and desperately seeking secrets to keeping it fresher than a snowman in a deep freezer. Now, brace yourselves for a reality check: If you’re hoping to learn how to keep Christmas Tree alive, the plethora of hacks, myths, and superstitions claiming to turn your tree into a botanical superhero are as bogus as a reindeer trying to breakdance.
It’s time to separate the yuletide wheat from the tinsel-infested chaff! To help you navigate the forest of misinformation and find the true path to a longer-lasting holiday centerpiece, here are 7 futile hacks that won’t save your Christmas tree, followed by 10 that will keep your tree alive and thriving into the new year.
Popular Myths That Fail to Keep a Christmas Tree Fresh
Losing the fresh scent of evergreen not only signals the end of the holiday season but kicks off a yearlong season of finding dried out needles in every nook and cranny of your home. Unfortunately, popular claims touting how to make your Christmas tree last longer, won’t put off the inevitable and may actually shorten the life of your holiday centerpiece.
Here’s a list of common myths along with explanations of why they just won’t work:
Aspirin in Water
- Myth: Adding aspirin to the water will keep the tree fresh.
- Reality: Aspirin does not significantly improve water absorption or freshness. Trees primarily absorb water through capillaries in the trunk, and aspirin lacks the necessary nutrients to extend the tree’s life.
Sugar in Water
- Myth: Sugar will provide nutrients to the tree and enhance its longevity.
- Reality: While sugar is a nutrient, Christmas trees don’t absorb nutrients through the water like cut flowers do. The primary goal is to keep the capillaries in the trunk open for water absorption, and sugar doesn’t contribute to this process.
Drilling Holes in the Trunk
- Myth: Drilling holes in the trunk will improve water absorption.
- Reality: This practice can do more harm than good. Drilling holes may introduce air into the vascular system of the tree, leading to air bubbles that block water uptake.
Vodka or Bleach in Water
- Myth: Adding vodka or bleach to the water will prevent bacterial growth and keep the tree fresh.
- Reality: While these substances might have antibacterial properties, they can also be harmful to the tree. The best way to prevent bacterial growth is by keeping the water clean and replacing it regularly.
Hair Spray on Needles
- Myth: Using hair spray will seal moisture into the needles.
- Reality: Hair spray can clog the tree’s pores, preventing it from naturally transpiring and leading to faster drying. It won’t effectively retain moisture.
Gatorade or Soda Instead of Water
- Myth: Using Gatorade or soda instead of water will provide better nutrients.
- Reality: Christmas trees do not need the additional sugars or artificial additives found in these beverages. Plain water is the best choice for maintaining tree freshness.
Copper Pennies in Water
- Myth: Adding copper pennies to the water will prevent algae growth and maintain freshness.
- Reality: While copper has some algacidal properties, the small amount in pennies is unlikely to have a significant impact. Regular water changes are more effective for preventing algae growth.
Water Wisdom: 10 Keys to Keep a Christmas Tree Fresh
So what does a holiday tree lover need to do to ACTUALLY keep a tree fresh for a long as possible? It’s simple. The key to preserving a Christmas tree is providing it with adequate water and maintaining a suitable environment.
These 10 methods are proven to keep a Christmas tree fresh and ensure a festive and long-lasting centerpiece for your holiday celebrations.
- Choose a Fresh Tree: Start with a healthy tree by selecting one that has vibrant green needles and a fragrant aroma. Give the tree a gentle shake to ensure that most of the needles stay in place.
- Make a Fresh Cut: Upon bringing your tree home, make a fresh straight cut across the base, removing about 1-2 inches from the trunk. This opens up the tree’s capillaries, allowing it to absorb water more effectively.
- Water Immediately: Place your tree in water as soon as possible after making the fresh cut. A tree can absorb a surprising amount of water in its first few hours.
- Use a Tree Stand with a Large Water Reservoir: Invest in a quality tree stand that can hold an ample amount of water. Check the water level daily and refill as needed to ensure the tree’s hydration.
- Keep the Tree Away from Heat Sources: Position your tree away from direct sunlight, radiators, heaters, and fireplaces. Excessive heat can cause the tree to dry out more quickly.
- Maintain a Cool Room Temperature: Lowering the room temperature will slow down the drying process of your tree. Aim to keep the room cool, around 65-70°F (18-21°C). If a day or more will pass between when you buy your tree and when you set it up inside your house, leave the tree outside in your garage or shed until you’re ready to decorate.
- Mist the Tree: Lightly misting the tree with water can help maintain its freshness. However, avoid over-saturating the needles, as this can lead to mold growth.
- Use Humidity: If your home tends to be dry, consider using a humidifier near the tree. This helps prevent the needles from drying out too quickly.
- Avoid Overdecorating: While it’s tempting to load up your tree with ornaments and lights, be mindful of the added weight. Too much can stress the branches and contribute to needle drop.
- Dispose of the Tree Promptly: Once the holiday season is over, promptly dispose of your tree. Dry trees are a fire hazard, and many municipalities have recycling programs to give your tree a second life as mulch.
By following these tips on how to keep a Christmas Tree live, you can ensure that your live Christmas tree stays beautiful and vibrant throughout the entire holiday season.