Christmas Tree Care

CEW August 2016 1cc

There really is something very romantic about the thought of going out into a forested area and cutting down a fresh Christmas tree. My husband-at-the-time thought so, picking a cold, snow-covered Saturday to bundle up the kids and head down a hill looking for the perfect cedar Christmas tree. After several debates over the width, and height of what tree would fit, the decision was made and the chain saw came out.

It was a little rough going with the cutting but no one was hurt and we ended up with a nice tree to drag back to the house and decorate.

Now most of my friends don’t have the adventurous spirit. Their idea of hunting down a Christmas tree is visiting a service club tree stand that has trees grown for sale at one of our local grocery stores. Great to be buying sustainable Christmas trees for a good cause but there are some things to take into account when picking the tree:

1. Measure the space where you plan to put the tree so you don’t get something that won’t fit. Also make sure the tree fits on the car you have.

2. Shake the potential candidate gently to see if pine needles fall off. If they do, the tree is already dry and won’t last long inside. You want a tree that is still holding firm to its needles.

3. Once the tree is home, cut off the bottom one inch of the stem and place in a bucket of water. The tree should absorb a lot of water in the first half hour.

4. After the tree is in a tree stand, add more water. Monitor the tree stand for next couple of hours to make sure the tree isn’t still taking up water.

5. If you are using a tree skirt, place the opening where you can easily peek under it and add water daily. Don’t be surprised if water levels keep getting low, especially if you have pets. Both our dogs and cats seem to prefer drinking out of the tree stand.

6. And since I mentioned pets, if you have inquisitive ones, especially cats, tie the tree to a column or a permanent surface. It’s bound to be tested at least once and you don’t want all of those pretty ornaments broken.

7. If you have dogs, place non-breakable ornaments at the bottom. If you add baked cookies as ornaments, be prepared to find them half-eaten at some point.

8. Cut trees last about a week inside. It’s about the same for a live, balled tree. Plan on using cut trees for wildlife cover outside or take it to your local recycling center for chipping. Live trees should be kept in a garage for a few days so they can re-acclimate to cold weather before planting outside. Good idea to pre-dig the hole so planting goes faster.

And if you are tempted to go on your own Christmas tree-cutting adventure, check the chain on the chain saw. Helps if you haven’t put it on backwards.

Charlotte Ekker Wiggins is a certified gardener, beekeeper and sometimes cook. Copyright 2016 used with permission, all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Contact Charlotte at

GTD Whole lot of shakin' goin' on 2 cc WHOLE LOT OF SHAKIN’ GOIN’ ON – When buying a pre-cut fresh Christmas tree, gently shake it to make sure the needles haven’t started to fall. If so, the tree is dried out and won’t last long at home before making a mess.

GFD Art imitating nature 2 cc

ART IMITATING NATURE – I put up an artificial tree this year with fruit and cat ornaments covered in birds and snow. Not much different from what I see outside my living room window except for the cats, they stay inside. Photos by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins).