Setting Up a Real Christmas Tree

There are close to 15,000 farms growing Christmas Trees in the U.S., and over 100,000 people are employed full or part-time in the industry. It can take as many as 15 years to grow a tree of typical height (6 – 7 feet) and can last for 4-5 weeks after it’s harvested for the Holidays if you prepare and set it up the right way. How do you set up a real Christmas tree?

  • Make a fresh cut perpendicular to the stem axis
  • Remove a 1/2-inch thick disk of wood from the base of the trunk
  • Use a stand that fits
  • Tree stands should provide 1 qt. of H2O per in. of the tree stem’s diameter.
  • Don’t remove any bark to fit in the stand
  • Keep trunk submerged 2″ in H2O
  • Monitor everyday

There are approximately 25-30 million Real Christmas Trees sold in the U.S. every year. Eighty percent (80%) of artificial trees worldwide are manufactured in China, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. Real Trees are a renewable, recyclable resource. Artificial trees contain non-biodegradable plastics and possible metal toxins such as lead. More reasons to buy a real Christmas Tree!


How Long Do Real Christmas Trees Last


According to  Neil Miller, head gardener at Hever Castle & Gardens If you do choose a healthy tree, the general consensus is that it will last for four to six weeks, which – if your tree goes up in December should see you comfortably through the festive season. “Popular trees like a Nordmann Fir or Fraser Fir can last for five weeks if properly cared for,”If picking your tree up from a farm, a good tip when doing so, as well as picking a healthy tree, is to ask the seller to cut the base again so that it’s a fresh cut, then keep it outside for as long as possible – you can pop it in water so it doesn’t dry out.

Traditionally, Christmas trees are put up at the beginning of Advent, or Thanksgiving in America which is the fourth Sunday before Christmas. This year, it falls on 28 November 2022. The earlier your Christmas tree goes up, the harder it is to keep it looking fresh for the big day. Most people that buy real Christmas trees like me want a tree up a few weeks into December and a week or so after the New Year before taking it down and boxing up the ornaments for next year.


How Often Should You Water a Christmas Tree


Consider the kind of tree you want. Most fresh-cut trees, if properly cared for should last at least five weeks before completely drying out. Some species hold their moisture content longer than others. The trees that retain moisture the longest are the Fraser fir, Noble fir, and Douglas fir.

The Eastern Red Cedar and Atlantic White Cedar will quickly lose moisture and should be used only for a week or two Whatever type of tree you get, feel the needles to make sure they aren’t already dry before you take the tree home no matter what type of tree or how pretty it is.

When a Christmas tree is harvested, the sliced trunk oozes the pitch, sealing the transport cells that provide water to the needles. You will need to refresh your Christmas tree and open up the clogged cells so the tree can deliver appropriate moisture throughout the tree.

One way I do this is by using a tree saw, making a straight cut along the bottom of the trunk taking at least 1/2 inch off the original harvest cut, and immediately placing the new cut in a bucket of water. This will improve water uptake to the branches once the tree is on its stand.

Even if your tree is freshly cut, you should still place the base in a bucket of water until you’re ready to bring it inside the house. Make a cut around a 1/2-inch thick disk of wood from the base of the trunk before bringing the tree into the house and placing it in the stand.

Avoid whittling the sides of the trunk down to fit a stand because the outer layers of wood are the most efficient in taking up water and should not be removed.

Trees are thirsty and can absorb a gallon of water a day, so look for a stand that holds 1 to 1.5 gallons. Water the new tree until water uptake stops and continue to maintain the level of the stand’s full mark. Maintain the set watermark throughout the season. Monitor every day!



How to Revive a Christmas Tree


The key to keeping a Christmas tree indoors for the holiday season is learning how to water the tree properly.  It can even revive a tree that is in need of some hydration if you make another cut at the base of the stem and get the tree back in the water in less than 4 hours.

  • Don’t cut the trunk at an angle, or into a v-shape, which reduces the amount of water available to the tree.
  • As a general rule, stands should provide 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter.
  • Make sure the reservoir in the tree stand doesn’t run dry
  • Monitor the reservoir’s water level daily
  • Add more water as needed to keep the bottom 2″ of the trunk submerged.
  • The temperature of the water used to fill the stand is not important and does not affect water uptake.

Christmas tree’s watering needs are usually the highest during the first week the tree is put up, and decline in the following weeks. Always keep the base of your tree submerged in regular tap or filtered water. When the stand’s water remains topped up, the tree cut will not form a resinous clot over the cut end and the tree will be able to absorb water and retain moisture.

You don’t need to add anything to the tree water, say, tree experts, such as commercially prepared mixes, aspirin, sugar, or other additives. Research has shown that plain water will keep a tree fresh.

The National Christmas Tree Association has done studies on reviving a Christmas tree and they say nothing works boiling water, bleach, aspirin, or even what some people say that vodka poured into the tree stand makes the tree revitalized-Not True!

If the tree runs out of water in the tree stand then the tree won’t drink anymore no matter how much water you add after that, so keep the stand full covering at least 2 inches above the cut.

To make watering your tree easier, consider buying a funnel and a three- to four-foot tube. Slip the tube over the funnel outlet, extend the tubing down into the tree stand, and water without bending over or disturbing the tree skirt.

Have a Great Christmas!



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