How to tell if christmas tree is dry
How to Care for Your Christmas Tree
Choosing the best stand and watering your evergreen correctly (and enough!) will extend its lifespan.
christmas tree surrounded by gifts and holiday decorations
Credit: THOMAS LOOF
During the hustle and bustle of the holidays, staying hydrated is key to maintaining your glow—especially if you're a Christmas tree. Unfortunately, many of us have thirsty tannenbaums. "Most people are surprised to learn that they're not properly watering their trees," says Tim O'Connor, executive director of the National Christmas Tree Association, a trade organization representing more than 700 farms.
Want to keep your evergreen looking, well, evergreen? Follow these expert Christmas tree care tips, which range from starting with a heathy tree to choosing the correct stand and watering appropriately.
Start With a Healthy Tree
First things first: Make sure you bring home a happy, healthy tree. "No matter what type of tree you select, you want the needles to be green and supple and the branches to be pliable," says O'Connor. "If it's already dry, it's not going to last long." Ask the nursery owner or lot attendant when the trees were delivered. While some sellers receive all of their trees at once, others will have shipments scheduled throughout the season. Ideally, you want a tree from the most recent delivery.
To test the tree, run a branch through your hand. If the needles fall off or if the branch seems brittle, move on—the tree is already too dry. Other signs of a dry or deteriorating tree include wrinkled bark, discolored needles, and a musty odor.
Make a Fresh Cut
To ensure that your tree can properly drink, you'll want to make a fresh cut to the trunk. So, before placing your tree in water, use a saw to remove a half-inch-thick disk of wood from the base of the trunk. Don't cut the trunk into a V-shape or drill a hole into the base—despite what you may have heard, this will make it harder for your tree to absorb water, not easier.
After cutting your tree, place it in a bucket of water or a water-filled tree stand as soon as possible, advises O'Connor. Most species can go six to eight hours after a trunk cut and still take up water, but sooner is better.
Select the Right Stand
Not all Christmas tree stands were created equal. To help keep your tree well hydrated, select a quality stand that is large enough to provide 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter. And don't whittle down a large tree to fit into a smaller stand—the outer layers of the wood are the best at absorbing water.
Before you make your morning coffee, make it a habit to serve your tree some fresh water. "You should really be watering your tree daily," says O'Connor. "Especially during the first seven to ten days, which is when they take up the most water." For a standard size tree with a trunk diameter in the 5-inch range, you'll want to maintain at least 5 quarts of water in your stand each day. That said, there's no harm in refilling your stand to capacity—trees know their holiday drinking limits, so err on the side of extra.
Also make sure that the trunk is submerged in the water—depending on how low the tree sits in the stand, it could be floating above the water level. And if you have a history of neglecting houseplants, consider also investing in a water monitor that will beep when it's time to refill your stand.
Don't use additives in the water, advises O'Connor. While your florist may recommend plant food for cut flowers, trees only require clean water.
Monitor for Dryness
While the temperature of the water doesn't matter, the temperature of the air does. Heat will cause your tree to dry out prematurely, so avoid placing it near a vent or radiator if possible. If you have to place it near a heat source, check the water levels more frequently.
Monitor your tree for dryness, too. If the needles begin to shed excessively or are dry and brittle to the touch, it's time to remove the tree from your house, as it could become a fire hazard. With proper watering, most trees will stay healthy for four to six weeks, says O'Connor.
How Long Does a Christmas Tree Last?
Photo: istockphoto.comQ: Our family wants to replace our artificial Christmas tree with a real one this year, and the kids want to go tree shopping already. I worry that the tree will dry out before Christmas if we buy it too early. How long does a Christmas tree last?
A: A real evergreen will no doubt make a festive and fragrant addition to your home, but most trees last weeks, not months. The moist stem and branches will dry and needles will transition from vibrant dark green to brown, then begin to fall. Fortunately, if you take a fastidious approach to tree selection, preparation, and care, you can keep it looking lovely longer—perhaps even into the new year.
RELATED: The Best Places to Buy Christmas Trees in 2022
Yes, if you’re the person who likes to purchase a fresh tree the day after Thanksgiving, it can indeed make it to Christmas, provided that you take measures to care for the cut tree:
- Place the tree upright in a metal, plastic, or concrete reservoir-style tree stand ($15 to $25 at home centers).
- Fill the stand with one quart of cool tap water for each inch of stem (e.g., use 1 gallon of water for a tree with a four-inch stem) within two hours of getting it home.
- Learning how to water a Christmas tree properly is mostly just making sure the reservoir in the tree stand doesn’t run dry. Monitor the reservoir’s water level daily, and add more water as needed to keep the bottom 2 inches of trunk submerged. Christmas tree water requirements are usually the highest during the first week the tree is up, and decline in subsequent weeks.
Wondering how to keep a Christmas tree alive and looking its best all season? Heed these tips and tricks:
AdvertisementWhen shopping for cut Christmas trees, ask the salesperson when the trees were cut down.
Christmas trees are cut from mid-November to mid-December, so don’t assume that all trees you find for sale were freshly cut. If you’re buying a pre-cut tree, ask when the trees on the lot were felled. Choose one that came down recently (within the week, if possible) so that it preserves its looks through the season.
RELATED: 10 Tips for Cutting Your Own Christmas TreeOpt for fir or cypress species over spruce or pine.
How long a real Christmas tree lasts varies depending on the specific tree’s evergreen conifer species. Most Christmas trees available at tree farms or local home and garden centers are fir, cypress, pine, or spruce. Fir and cypress tend to keep most of their needles for 4 or 5 weeks, respectively, whereas pine and spruce are more likely to lose a high volume of needles within 2 or 3 weeks, respectively.Always inspect the tree’s needles before taking it home.
Before buying the tree you have your eye on, take it by the trunk and give it a shake to observe the volume and color of the needles that fall off. Only a few brown needles should come off if the tree is fresh; numerous fallen green needles are a telltale sign that the tree has already gone dry.Ask to have the Christmas tree baled before putting it in your car.
Many unsuspecting folks transport unbundled Christmas trees inside a truck cargo bed only to arrive home and find numerous branches bent and needles fallen on the way. If you’ll be hauling your tree home yourself rather than have it delivered, ask to have it put through a baling machine that will wrap it in protective netting or twine while also condensing its size without damaging the trunk or branches. If driving home in a car as opposed to a truck, securely tie the baled tree to the roof racks with rope. Remove the netting once you have placed the tree inside your tree stand.
AdvertisementUnseal the tree’s trunk before submerging it in water.
If your tree was cut more than 6 to 8 hours ago (ask the attendant at the point of purchase exactly when it was cut), a layer of resin will have formed over the cells of the wood at the base of the trunk, sealing it and preventing water uptake. To re-open the cells so that the tree can absorb water, use a saw to cut a half inch of wood off of the base of the tree trunk before you place it in your tree stand.Lacing Christmas tree water with additives won’t help keep it alive.
Over the years, homeowners have laced the water in their tree stands with everything from floral preservatives to powdered bleach and crushed aspirin to keep their trees fresh. But there is no evidence that such additives prolong tree life; in fact, they can actually inhibit water retention and cause the tree to dry out faster. There’s no need to make sugar water for a Christmas tree, either—plain tap water is all that’s needed to quench your tree’s thirst.
RELATED: 8 Things You Never Knew About Christmas TreesKeep the tree cool and out of direct sunlight.
To preserve moist needles and the tree’s vivid green hue, situate the tannenbaum indoors, ideally in a room that’s no more than 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The tree should be out of direct sunlight, and kept far from away from a fireplace, radiator, or space heater. The heat from these sources can prematurely dry and brown your tree.Measure water levels in the stand with a moisture monitor.
Forgetting to regularly monitor and refill water in the tree stand or misjudging the current water level and not adding enough can result in premature drying. Moisture level monitors like the Evergreen Elf, which mount to the tree stand, can automatically detect the water level in the stand. It will light up or send audio signals when the water level is low and let you know it’s time to re-water.
AdvertisementDecorate the tree with miniature LED tree lights.
LED Christmas lights, particularly those in a miniature size (5 mm in length), use less energy and generate less heat than larger, incandescent bulbs. Adorning your tree with these energy-efficient lights may reduce drying and keep it fresh and green longer.
How to choose a Christmas tree
There are only a few days left before the New Year, in the pre-holiday bustle, preparations are underway for the most magical night of the year. An invariable attribute and the main decoration of the New Year is a festive tree. How to choose the best Christmas tree, about the pros and cons of natural and artificial Christmas trees - read in this material.
So, you have chosen natural wood
Where to buy? You can buy a live Christmas tree at the city Christmas tree market or in the forestry. New Year's fairs from mid-December open in retail markets and in areas adjacent to shopping centers. It is illegal to buy Christmas trees "from hands" from the so-called black lumberjacks. To avoid buying an illegally cut down Christmas tree, you should buy a tree only at official points of sale and ask the sellers about the agreement with the spruce nursery on the purchase of trees.
When to buy?
The best time to go for the Christmas tree is on the twentieth of December. A Christmas tree bought earlier will crumble long before the end of the New Year holidays.
Which tree to choose?
- Choose a tree with a smooth, sufficiently thick trunk without cracks. A tree with a thin trunk will not last long.
- Branches must be flexible. If the branches are dry and break with minimal effort, you should not take a Christmas tree.
- The needles should be a deep emerald green, flexible and strong. Hit the tree trunk on the ground, or lightly shake the tree - if the needles fall off, this is a bad sign.
- Rub a few needles in your palms - you should feel an intense smell of needles. Dry, crumbling needles and the absence of a characteristic aroma are signs of a long-cut tree.
- Choose a tree with one crown. If there are two, three tops, or it is cut off, you do not need to buy such a tree.
How to bring the Christmas tree home?
- After purchasing , it is important to bring the Christmas tree home correctly. Ask the seller to pack the tree in a plastic mesh-sleeve, or take a rope with you and tie the branches to the trunk yourself. Carry the tree trunk forward, top back. Bring the crown forward into the apartment and be sure to let the tree gradually adapt to the heat by placing it in a cool place for 2-3 hours, for example, on the balcony.
If you decide to celebrate the New Year with an artificial Christmas tree
The variety of artificial Christmas trees offered by manufacturers on the eve of the New Year is amazing. You can buy an imitation of pine, fir, blue or ordinary spruce, with or without cones, covered with frost, with multi-colored LED bulbs built into the branches. The color palette is limited only by the imagination of the manufacturer and varies from light green to dark emerald green. Gold, silver, white and red artificial spruces are very popular.
What to look for when choosing an artificial Christmas tree?
- Quality . The branches must be securely fastened, the needles on the branches must also hold tight. Lightly pull on the needles, they should not come off. Run your palm along the branch against the growth of needles, squeeze the branch in your palm, while high-quality needles will quickly take their original shape and will not crumble. At the ends of the branches there should be no sharp edges, bare wire, notches.
- Smell. A slight characteristic plastic odor may be present for a short time. A pungent chemical smell indicates the use of materials that do not meet the standards.
A quality Christmas tree should be made of fire-resistant materials or treated with special compounds that prevent fire. On the packaging of the Christmas tree, there must be information about fire safety. Electric garlands are a frequent element of Christmas tree decoration, and if the material from which the Christmas tree is made is flammable, then the consequences can be very deplorable.
Environmental safety is one of the most important conditions for the correct choice of artificial Christmas trees. The Christmas tree should not exude an unpleasant chemical smell and should not contain substances hazardous to human health. To verify this, ask the seller to show you a quality certificate.
When choosing a Christmas tree in the store, pay attention to the attached information: the date of manufacture, the rules and conditions for its use, an indication of the material from which the Christmas tree is made, the data of the manufacturer and the company accepting claims. All information must be printed on the label in Russian.
Live or artificial fluffy beauty will decorate the New Year holidays - it's up to you. In any case, with the appearance of a Christmas tree in the house, the atmosphere becomes festive.
How to choose a Christmas tree at the Christmas market without unpacking it - Articles
- What are live Christmas trees like for the New Year
- Christmas tree shape and size
- Needles, branches
- Christmas tree from the nursery or from the forest?
- Where to buy a Christmas tree?
We answer: for starters - not only Christmas trees! Maybe you want to buy pine or fir. First, you should decide on the type of tree (spruce, pine or fir) and then - with its parameters.
What are live Christmas trees like for the New Year
The tree can be cut or in a container, large or small. The crown can be dense, “stuffed”, or, conversely, with branches widely extending from each other, allowing you to hang more toys. They can differ in color, as, for example, the color of the needles of the Norwegian Christmas tree is slightly olive, but the American Blue Spruce has its name for a reason, its color can be of different shades - from gray to bright blue.
Each New Year's fir, spruce and pine has its advantages and disadvantages, some tree smells stronger, but loses needles faster, and some, on the contrary, will stand for a very long time, but not have a coniferous smell. Some buyers value the compact form of the Christmas tree so that it can easily fit into even a small interior, while others will look for a massive, luxurious Fraser fir or Canada pine to place in the center of a spacious living room and decorate with toys from all sides.
The features of each tree are described in detail in our article "Types of Christmas Trees".
So, let's take a closer look at all the parameters that will help us come to the Christmas tree market well prepared.
Shape and size of tree
The shape of the crown of a live Christmas tree is wide-conical or narrow-conical. This can be determined without even unpacking the tree - wide-conical Christmas trees have a massive, heavy lower part, and narrow-conical Christmas trees are approximately the same thickness over the entire height, they taper closer to the upper part more evenly.
The same packing density over the entire height indicates that the tree is likely to be symmetrical, and the presence of voids or too uneven shape indicates that it has somewhere more, and somewhere less branches. The tree is not always perfect, most often, on one side the branches will be a little shorter, but this is not a disadvantage, but it can even be convenient, since many people install the Christmas tree close to the wall. If you are looking for a Christmas tree for a large room and plan to put it in the center of the room, then you will have to look for a tree that is symmetrical on all sides. In this case, you can ask the seller to unpack any number of Christmas trees for you and choose the right one.
We also recommend using a novelty of recent years for extra-class Christmas trees - the Easy Fix stand, which allows you to install any, even a very twisted tree, completely even. A hole is drilled in the tree trunk, after which the Christmas tree is put on an iron pin strictly vertically. All our trees are delivered to the Christmas tree market already with this hole, so it will not be difficult for you to install your Christmas tree at home yourself. And when delivering a Christmas tree from an online store, you can order a special service from us - installing a Christmas tree.
Easy Fix junior light stand
Pay attention to the color of the needles. If we talk about the Russian Christmas tree, then the color of its needles can be either yellow-green, almost light green, or rich dark green. This is due to the fact that in different nurseries, spruces grow on different soils that differ in chemical composition. In pines, the needles on the inside of the branches may be slightly dry. In autumn, a small number of needles naturally die off in all coniferous trees, so in winter such a picture is quite acceptable. But there should not be too many such needles, the bulk should remain green, otherwise this indicates that the tree has already dried up and is not worth buying. Each needle of a good fresh Christmas tree, fir or pine does not break, but bends easily, and if you rub it in your hands, it exudes a pleasant coniferous smell, and leaves an oily mark on your hand. This is especially true of the Russian Christmas tree and Scots pine, these are the most fragrant New Year trees. In the same way, you can check spruce branches - the paws should be flexible and bend easily, and not break. In fir, you can find several dry twigs in the lower part of the trunk. It is also normal if all other paws are green and fresh. If necessary, they can simply be removed with a knife or secateurs.
If you find that the tree has a short top or it does not exist at all, then this should not bother you, this does not mean that the tree is bad. Often they are removed for ease of transportation. If the top is too long, then it can always be cut off. This does not affect the height of the tree, since the tree is not measured to the very top, along the branches of the upper whorl extended upwards.
Little secret: if you compare two trees that are the same size but different in weight, guess which one will be more magnificent? The last thing to mention is that if the temperature outside is below 15 degrees, we do not recommend disturbing the tree once again, unfolding it, or shaking it. In extreme cold, branches and needles become very brittle and easily damaged. If you unfold such a Christmas tree immediately after you brought it home and start shaking it from dry needles, you can lose up to 5-10 percent of the needles! It is better to let her stand in a warm room and gradually adapt to the room temperature.
Christmas tree selection
Tree from the nursery or from the forest?
There is such a widespread myth that you can go into the forest and cut down your Christmas tree for the New Year. In fact, it is impossible to grow a good Christmas tree in the forest, since there are no suitable conditions for it, it will not meet the required standards. Trees and shrubs growing nearby will not allow the tree to grow even and at least a little symmetrical. Therefore, most of the Christmas trees sold on the streets on New Year's Eve will most likely be from nurseries. But it is very easy to recognize a Christmas tree from the forest: its trunk will be thin, and, most likely, crooked, its paws are weak, and its needles are rare. We recommend buying Christmas trees only at the city's official Christmas markets - this way you protect yourself from low-quality, non-certified products. Our Christmas tree bazaars are quite easy to recognize - they have the same light gray cone-shaped structures with diagonal slats resembling a Christmas tree.