ORLANDO, Fla. – It seems as though many people are decking the halls earlier and earlier each year, with some decorations even going up before Thanksgiving.
It takes hours to shop for the perfect tree. You load it to the top of the station wagon, lug it home and tediously place hundreds of lights and ornaments to make your holiday centerpiece shine and sparkle. But the work doesn't stop there. Maintaining a live tree is a whole different story.
Here are some easy tips to keep your Christmas tree alive and healthy until Santa comes to town:
1. Purchase the freshest tree available
Here in Florida, most trees have been cut and shipped from up North. As you shop around, test a tree's freshness by taking your hand and gently running it along the branches. The fresher and more hydrated trees will hold their needles more than older ones.
2. Re-cut the trunk
Once you've picked your family’s fir, ask to get a fresh cut off the base of the tree. It doesn’t need to be a size-altering cut -- just about a half inch from the bottom is fine. Most stores that sell Christmas trees can easily do this before loading the tree onto your vehicle. This will help open the tree's pores and jump-start the hydrating process.
3. Water the tree
When you get it home, put it in water as quickly as possible. Then make sure to keep the water coming. Store-bought stands usually hold about one gallon of water. A freshly cut tree will drink a surprisingly large amount of water, especially during the first week. For the first week, it would be ideal to water it every day. Through the rest of December, it will start absorbing less and less water. Just make sure to keep the stand full of water. It is a simple step, but with the craze of the holidays, this small task can sometimes be overlooked. Set a reminder on your phone or have one person be in charge of watering duties.
4. Pick the perfect spot in your home
Make sure your tree is not near a main heat source. This could be an air conditioning or heating vent, space heater or fireplace. Not only will it become an extreme fire hazard, it will also quickly dehydrate your tree. Even a window that gets hot with direct sunlight during the day can dry out your tree. Keeping your house on the cooler side will also extend a tree's longevity.
In general, the average lifespan of a cut Christmas tree can last about four weeks. Doing your part to keep it healthy will make a big difference by Christmas Day.