Best way to keep your Christmas tree fresh all season

We’ve been warned about potential Christmas tree shortages this year, and now that Thanksgiving is done, trees may be going up in living rooms this weekend (if they haven’t already).

So what are the best ways to keep the needles on the branches and off the floor for the next month?

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Websites and companies like Miracle Gro, Good Housekeeping and even home expert Martha Stewart have their tried-and-tested ways to keep trees looking fresh all season.

Miracle Gro

The company that helps plants and trees grow all summer has the following suggestions:

  • Select a healthy tree from a local tree farm.
  • Select a stand that can hold at least a gallon of water.
  • Use a quart of water for every inch of the trunk’s diameter.
  • Cut 1/2 inch off the bottom of the trunk before you put it in the stand so it can absorb water.
  • Check the water level daily, making sure at least two inches of the tree’s trunk is submerged.
  • Keep the tree away from heat.
  • Use a water additive that is designed to keep the tree hydrated.

Good Housekeeping

The homemaking magazine has similar suggestions.

  • Select a healthy green tree with the least amount of brown needles that was kept in a shady location.
  • Needles should be soft and not fall off when touched or when the tree is lifted slightly and then dropped on the ground.
  • Trim the trunk and, if it isn’t being brought into the home immediately, store it in a bucket of water, then trim the trunk again, cutting an inch off the bottom.
  • Place it in a stand that can hold at least a gallon of water and put at least a quart of water in it for every inch of the trunk’s diameter.
  • Check the water level every day.
  • Keep the room cool and away from heat.
  • Remove the tree before it fully dries out.

Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart, the expert on all things home, follows similar rules for keeping trees fresh all season.

  • Make sure a live tree has enough water.
  • You can use an additive that can help the tree absorb water and kill bacteria, but don’t use it in place of water. There is an ongoing debate on whether additives work.
  • Trim the bottom of the trunk about half an inch, “perpendicular to the axis of the stem.”
  • Use a quart of water per inch of diameter of the tree’s trunk.
  • Be careful around heat sources, including lights, as they will dry out the tree.

National Christmas Tree Association

Finally, the National Christmas Tree Association says the key is using “lots of water,” reminding people that half the weight of the tree is actually water.

  • To make sure you have enough water, the tree association says there are devices on the market that can help keep a consistent water level.
  • Use a stand that is big enough for your tree. Don’t cut down the diameter of a stem to fit a stand.
  • Take off about half an inch from the bottom of the stem before putting it into the stand.
  • Keep the tree stored in water in a cool location, even if not on display yet.
  • Keep the tree away from heat, including fireplaces, heating vents and direct sunlight.
  • If the tree dries out quickly, remove it from the home. Don’t keep it around where it could pose a fire hazard.

To help find a fresh tree, the National Christmas Tree Association can link you to local tree farms.