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Caring for Your Christmas Tree

Very soon, families throughout our nation will be digging out the ornaments, testing the lights and finding that perfect angel or star to top off their tree for the holiday season.

Warner’s Nursery will be getting its shipment of cut trees on Nov. 20 (the Monday before Thanksgiving). We already have a good selection of live potted evergreens in stock as another option for your holiday decorating this year.

In addition to providing you with an excellent selection of Christmas trees, we also want to offer some advice on caring for your tree, so it looks spectacular and fresh all season long.

For those of you debating a real versus an artificial holiday tree this year, here are the aesthetic and environmental benefits of cut or potted trees.

One of the great joys of the season is picking out your tree with your family – finding the perfect fir or pine that’s the right height and shape, which you know will make your home that much more special this holiday. Plus, there’s that amazing smell a real tree brings into your home. These are things that can’t be captured in a box with a plastic tree, no matter how sophisticated.

And, in general, real trees are more environmentally friendly. We know that seems counterintuitive; if I buy a fake tree, that means 10 trees that won’t be cut down during the next decade. That’s more ecologically sound, right?

Well, not really. Many “fake” trees use polyvinyl chloride in their manufacturing, which produces carcinogens during manufacturing and in disposal.

By contrast, when you get your recyclable and biodegradable real tree, it most likely has been grown on a special plantation, supporting local farmers with a sustainable crop. Your tree has been giving back to nature for about a decade prior to your purchase, providing oxygen and a habitat for small birds and animals. And if you opt for a tree that you will plant in your yard after the holidays, the environmental benefits will continue.

Which leads to your first major decision: cut tree or living one? There are benefits to each; you can enjoy your cut tree longer in the house (a live tree really should only be indoors about a week). On the other hand, a live tree can be planted and enjoyed outdoors for years to come.

Here are some tips for each one:

While Christmas trees are usually available the week of Thanksgiving, people often hold off purchasing a cut one until closer to the holiday, afraid it will dry out before Christmas. A few simple steps, however, will ensure that your trees stay fresh throughout the season.

 

(As a side note, it’s going to be particularly important to secure your tree early this year. Industry reports tell us that the cut tree market might be in short supply this year due to a combination of factors, including weather. Wait too long and you might not be able to find the type or size tree that you want.)

 

Before you place your cut tree indoors, spray it with CloudCover, a harmless, transparent film that reduces water loss, keeping tree needles fresh and moist.

 

Make a fresh cut of at least a half inch off the trunk of the tree to allow the tree to take up water. Your tree needs to be placed in its stand with water immediately after that (within 15 minutes at the most). If the trunk is not immediately and constantly immersed in water after the cut, it will seal off and not be able to take up water.

 

Once the stand is mounted and your tree is properly situated (far away from heater ducts and fireplaces), fill the water tray with lukewarm water. Check the water level in your tree stand daily, ensuring the trunk is immersed in water. You can also add a preservative like Keeps-It-Green to the water to keep the tree fresher longer.

 

For living trees, proper care is even more important. First, you need to acclimate your tree. We suggest placing the tree in partial sunlight for one week prior to taking it indoors. Water the tree daily. The day before you bring it into the house, hose it down with water to remove dust and insects. Again, we suggest spraying the tree with CloudCover to protect against dehydration.

 

Once inside, set your tree in a large tray to catch overflow and protect your floors. It should be situated close to a window for light and far away from heating ducts or fireplaces that could sap its moisture.

 

Continue to water your tree daily, but not quite as deeply as you did when it was outside (you don’t want your living tree to be standing in a tray full of water!) Add a few ice cubes to keep the tree cool and prevent it from breaking dormancy. As we mentioned earlier, your living Christmas tree can only remain indoors for about seven days; otherwise, it might break dormancy and then will not survive outdoors.

 

After that week, place your tree in a shady spot and out of the wind until you’re ready to plant. We suggest the north or east side of your home, as trees can be wind-burned and are prone to sun scald if left on the south or west side of a house.

 

Water the tree thoroughly immediately after transferring outdoors, then once a day for the first week, then once a week thereafter. If the tree is to be left in a pot temporarily (for example, if the ground is frozen), water every three to five days, but remember that you should plant the tree as soon as possible.

 

Warner’s will be offering both cut and live trees later this month, in addition to fresh wreaths, garland and poinsettias. We have pre-ordering, delivery and disposal services available. We look forward to seeing you and discussing what we can do to make this holiday season even more special for your family.

 

Happy Gardening & Happy Holidays! FBN

 

By Misti Warner-Andersen

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