Keeping your Christmas tree happy and green through the holiday season is easy if you think of your tree as a large fresh cut flower. Like a daisy cut from your garden, there are a few things we do to keep it fresh for as long as possible.
Like any cut flower, the shorter the time between cutting and arranging it into place the better. So fresh cut means longer lasting. Over time the pores that allow water to enter the stem of a cut tree get clogged with sap and, as with cut flowers, we always make a fresh cut as we put them in the arrangement to remove or open up some of the clogged pores and allow water in.
Fresh Christmas trees need only a few inches cut off when mounting. However, if your tree is suspected of being cut several weeks or even months previous you should remove between four and 12 inches off the butt when mounting it in your home.
If you had new cut flowers, you would store them in a refrigerator to keep them from degrading and once brought up to room temperature you only have so much time before they wilt and die. So keeping your tree cool until you’re ready to set it up is important.
If a cut flower stem is allowed to dry out it very quickly dies, so keeping your tree reservoir full is critical.
Unlike cut flowers, Christmas trees need hot water, especially when first set up—the hotter the better. This helps to open up the pores and get them drinking.
With cut flowers we always say water every day to keep them fresh! Keep the vase full!
This is much more difficult with a Christmas tree because it uses a lot of water, particularly in the first week. I find that a seven-ft tree will use about one to two litres per day for the first five days. If you can keep up with this it makes a big difference in the longevity of the tree.
A few drops of household bleach in the reservoir will help keep the bacteria from growing in the stump and help keep the pores open. Don’t add too much because it has a strong odour, and don’t add anything to the water that may clog up these openings like heavy syrups or sugar. Just water is best.
Think of your Christmas tree as a fresh cut flower and apply the same strategies to keeping it fresh and you will get the best possible result for the holiday season.
This is Ken’s final column for the year. He’ll return in the spring with more gardening tips.