How to Make Your Christmas Tree Last Longer

Wondering how to make your Christmas tree last longer? We all know that a dried out Christmas tree drops messy needles and is a fire hazard, adding no joy to the season. For many of us, the Christmas season officially begins right after Thanksgiving and lasts through the beginning of January. That's quite a long time to keep a fresh Christmas tree healthy and green. However, with proper planning and proper care, you can keep your tree fresh and beautiful for the entire holiday season.

Start with the Right Tree
In order to have a tree that lasts all season, you first need to select a tree that is as fresh as possible when you bring it home. Ideally, you should try to cut your tree down yourself from a tree farm. If that's not possible, check trees on the lot for freshness. Tug on a branch to see if the needles hold tight; if the needles come off in your hand easily, the tree is not fresh. Also bend one of the smaller branches. On a fresh Christmas tree, the branch should bend without breaking. Finally, give the tree the stamp test by holding it by the trunk and stamping the base on the ground one or two times. If a shower of needles drops from the branches, the tree is anything but fresh.

Try to find out where and when the trees were harvested. In some places, trees can be harvested as early as the first week of November. These trees will quickly wilt and dry out in your home. You've got a better chance at finding late-harvested trees if you look for trees grown in or near the place where you live.

The type of tree you choose will also determine its longevity. Certain varieties of trees are known to stay fresh and retain their needles longer than others. Two popular choices are the Douglas Fir and the Fraser Fir, both of which will typically stay fresh for four to six weeks with proper care. Balsam firs, known for their distinctive "Christmas tree smell" will also last quite a while. While they aren't quite as long-lasting as Douglas and Fraser firs, with proper care they will last about a month.

Preparing the Tree
Once you've selected your tree, it is important to give the trunk a fresh cut right before you put it in the stand, to ensure that it will soak up water efficiently. After a tree has been cut for a while, sap seals the cut, which prevents the tree from soaking up water. Make a fresh cut at least four inches above the original cut.

Fill the tree stand with water, and check it a few times a day to make sure it's still full. Your tree can drink up to a gallon of water per day, which is a good sign that it's healthy. It's important not to let it get dry, because then the sap will dry over the cut end and prevent the tree from taking in water. Keeping the tree watered well is the most important factor in keeping it fresh. You can add a Christmas tree preservative to the water, if you wish. Plain table sugar is a great additive as well.

Where you choose to locate your tree will also make a difference in how long it lasts. When choosing a place for your tree, do your best to keep it away from heat vents, radiators and direct sunlight. These things can dry your tree out and shorten its lifespan. Placing your tree near radiators or heating elements is also a fire hazard, if the tree gets dry.

Important Note for Allergy Sufferers
If you have seasonal allergies or mold allergies, you may want to think twice about keeping the tree around for any length of time. After about a week indoors, mold can start to grow on the needles of Christmas trees. After two weeks, the mold is enough to trigger allergic reactions. The longer the tree stays indoors, the higher the mold count.

Running an air purifier next to the tree every day can help to limit the spread of mold spores. The best advice for those who find themselves sneezing by New Year's Day is to take down the tree. If allergies or sinus infections around Christmas have been a problem, try to keep the tree up for seven days or less.

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