Hints for keeping your Christmas tree fresh

RBC I I’m going to start with one of the best-kept secrets.
1. Use an anti-transpirant compound such as “Wilt-Pruf” on your Christmas tree to seal moisture in the tree. I’m not sure why anti-transpirant sprays are not more commonly used in households to preserve Christmas tree freshness, but Wilt-Pruf has been around more than 60 years and is available at garden centers and home improvement stores throughout the nation.
The compound closes the pores of the leaf surface so moisture can’t evaporate through it. A one-quart, ready-to-use bottle is sufficient for an average five- to six-foot Christmas tree and costs approximately $10. Spray your tree with Wilt-Pruf outdoors and let it dry a few hours before bringing indoors.
2. There are several steps you can follow to keep your Christmas tree fresh for the longest possible time after purchase. First, make a new cut at the end of the trunk about an inch above the old one. Then make a cross cut one-half-inch deep (resembling an “X”) that will increase the tree’s water absorption. Keep the cut end standing in water, whether you decorate the tree immediately or store it to decorate later. If you store the tree, keep it in a cool, shaded area.
3. Place the tree in a stand that can hold at least one gallon of water. You should expect the tree to take up additional water. Water the new tree until water uptake stops. Then continue to check daily.
4. Always keep the base of a tree in water. If the base dries out, resin will form over the cut end and the tree will not be able to absorb water and will dry out quickly. Drying out deters future water uptake and will need a new cut. You don’t need anything other than regular tap water. Commercially prepared mixes or home remedies like aspirin, sugar and other additives introduced into the water are not necessary. Research has shown that plain water will keep a tree fresh.
Check the tree’s water level frequently and refill as necessary. Fresh evergreen trees can take up an amazing amount of water – up to a gallon during their first 24 hours off the tree lot.
Because many tree stands have small reservoirs, you’ll need to fill the reservoir twice daily. Cheap trick: For ease of watering, take a four-foot piece of one-inch PVC pipe, add a funnel to the end with duct tape and use that to water with. Don’t forget to decorate as an ornament.
Your tree will last longer indoors if it’s located away from direct sun, radiators or heat vents, fireplaces, television sets and other sources of heat. Take care to place your tree in a location that won’t block any room exits.
Check electric lights to make sure cords aren’t frayed or worn, and keep metallic ornaments and tinsel away from bulb sockets. Avoid combustible decorations and make sure electrical circuits aren’t overloaded.
A fresh tree that receives good care should remain in safe condition indoors for 10 days to two weeks.
For more information on tree care, call Bill Ekstrom at 970-878-9490 or your local Colorado State Cooperative Extension office.

By Bill Ekstrom
CSU Extension Agent
Rio Blanco County