This Christmas, if you are using a live tree instead of a plastic one, you are essentially bringing a new plant into your home. Caring for this plant is vital during the Christmas Holidays. Improper care of a Christmas tree creates a fire hazard in your home. There are two types of live trees a homeowner may select: a potted tree, or a cut tree.
Cut trees far outnumber potted trees in a home. These trees are preferable to fake trees because they are biodegradable. Most tree farms and commercial growers recommend that you keep a cut tree in your home for a maximum of three weeks. After this, the needles start to fall off, the tree may turn brown and the risk of fire increases.
The first step in caring for a cut tree is to place it in a tree stand. The best stand is one that has space to water it at the base.
Although some people will say to use water with aspirin or 7Up in it, the Christmas Tree Growers Association says that ordinary water works best.
When you get the tree home, you may notice that there is a hard layer of sap formed on the cut end of the tree. This is a defense mechanism the tree has to protect itself. The hardened sap is like a scab that your own skin forms when you get a cut. However, the tree will not absorb water through the sap.
You can either water the tree with warm water for the first two times in order to dissolve the sap, or you can cut 1 inch off of the trunk to remove the sap layer.
Place the tree away from vents and a fireplace, and keep it watered. Use small Christmas lights that generate less heat.
Live trees are often dug up by the root ball and kept in a large pot through the Christmas season. These trees are usually smaller than cut trees. The advantage of these trees is that they can be planted outside after Christmas is over.
Before you buy a potted tree, consider where you will plant it after Christmas. The tree’s full grown size should be taken into consideration before you buy it.
Just as with a cut tree, a live tree must not be allowed to dry out. The Colorado State University Extension recommends no more than 5 to 7 days indoors. Many families who use a live tree have a tradition of purchasing it and bringing it indoors on Christmas Eve to decorate and then planting it on New Year ’s Day.
Keep the tree well away from the fireplace or any air vents and water the root ball thoroughly. Use small Christmas lights that generate less heat. Check the root ball daily and water any time the soil seems dry to the touch. The roots should be damp but not soggy.
After you remove the tree from your home, you can keep it in an unheated garage for several days before planting it.