I wrote this blog about real Christmas trees 4 years ago. To date, it continues to be one of my highest read posts. As we near Christmas, the searches that lead people to my blog become more desperate and alarming. Things like ” how to revive a dead Christmas tree” or ” what to do when your Christmas tree is dried out” …..
So here’s the quick news you probably already know. THROW IT OUT. Seriously, if you forgot to cut off the trunk, haven’t watered it daily and it is brittle dry…it is a FIRE HAZARD. People die every year because of dry trees that are lit up with warm bulbs. Please don’t do that. Please, remove the tree from your home immediately. There is still time to get a new tree and have a lovely Christmas.
Here’s another trick I saw today: use a wrapping paper tube to water your tree. So easy and efficient! I just did it myself today as we have a real tree for the first time in 10 years! I check the branches every day to make sure they are still pliable and getting water.
***UPDATE*** After numerous Google searches with people frantically trying to revive their sad and pathetic trees, I must interject and let you all know that #2 is SO CRITICAL to the health and life of your tree. It cannot be said loud enough or often enough….YOU MUST CUT OFF at least 2 inches off the base of your tree before you put it into your tree stand with water. The bottom is sealed tight and opening up the trunk is the only way for water to get to your branches and needles. If you don’t do this, your tree will die and that’s really all there is to it. Happy tree trimming and tree hunting!
I’m sad to admit that I have a very high mortality rate with any living plant in my house. I just can’t seem to have a thriving greenish type of thing that isn’t plastic, silk or otherwise fake. And when it comes to Christmas Trees…well, I’ve killed my fair share.
Needles all over the carpet, ornaments too heavy for brittle branches, even trees that topple in the night due to pathetic hydration.
I grew up on a farm and we had a real tree every year. My mom would use a coffee can to hold the water and I really had nothing to do with it from there. I just cared about tinsel and shiny balls all over it along with the multi-colored retro LARGE bulbs.
We had artificial trees when we moved off the farm and my husband and I only started with real trees in our 5th year of marriage. I killed that tree early too. And then next one. I couldn’t figure out how to prolong its life. Until I asked my mother how it was that we always had our tree up for at least a month on the farm. Ginger Ale. Say what? Yes. You know the saying ” a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down”? Well, it applies to evergreens too. Seems that the sap in the tree blocks up all the pores when you cut it down. Sort of a life preserving technique but it makes it pretty tough to absorb any water. So here’s the tricks I learned and let me tell you, it works and you can even revive a nearly dead tree!
- When you buy your real tree or cut it down , you must let it “settle” in your warm house before it can be decorated. It may take hours or up to a day. But you cannot leave it inside without putting it in water. So set up your tree stand(or coffee can) and fill it half full of water.
- CUT OFF the bottom of the trunk. Regardless if you have cut it down in the forest yourself or not, the sap will have solidified on the bottom of the trunk and you need a fresh cut to absorb the water. I have even had to take down a tree and cut the bottom off after I’ve started to decorate just because I forgot this step. Not fun. Also, trim off those straggler branches on the bottom. You don’t need them sucking up the water before it gets a chance to travel up the trunk.
- Add equal parts of Ginger Ale(I like Canada Dry myself) and water to your tree stand. Watch the water level~ in the first couple of hours the tree will suck up most, if not all of the liquid and you will need to top it up. After the first day you can go to a 1:4 ratio of ginger ale to water.
- You MUST check your water level daily. If you live in a dry climate, have a wood stove, have forced air heat it will dry your tree out quicker. Also, if you have a vent near where your tree is, consider closing it off for the season to avoid it blowing directly on your tree.
- All trees shed needles a bit at first. You are going to want some sort of proper tree skirt that will catch most of them so that you aren’t still vacuuming needles in July.(been there)
- Check your tree daily. It should smell, needles should be pliable and not brittle. Keep the water level up at all times and you will enjoy your tree through New Year’s! ( I also have used a spray bottle mister sometimes to add a bit of moisture to the upper branches but that’s not really necessary if you’re watering properly)
I don’t have a real tree this year…but next year….OH YES I WILL!
*** NEW**** if you don’t have ginger ale, sugar water will work too! But my experience has shown the gingerale works faster/better??? Not sure why. I’m not an arborist or chemist.