How to care for your Christmas Tree from the MDC

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Missouri Department of Conservation -

Steps to a safer, longer-lasting tree
Holiday celebrations often center around the Christmas tree. Each year, it is estimated that Americans put up more than 30 million live Christmas trees. Picking the right tree and caring for it properly can ensure a safer, longer-lasting tree. These simple steps show you how.

Pick a freshly cut tree – Make sure that the tree you select is fresh. To test freshness, gently shake one of the tree’s branches. It is normal for a few needles to fall, but if an excessive amount of green needles fall, it is a sign that the tree is not fresh.

...Or use a live evergreen – As an alternative to a cut tree, consider purchasing a live evergreen from your local nursery or garden center. Not only will it make a beautiful Christmas tree, you also can plant it in your yard after the season and enjoy it for many holidays to come. If you’re considering a live tree for Christmas, proper planning is essential.

Water – Water is the single most important factor in caring for your Christmas tree. When you bring your tree home, make a fresh cut to the trunk (take off an additional 1/2 inch) and place it immediately in a tree stand full of water. Never let the water level fall below the bottom of the trunk. A tree can drink up to two gallons of water per day, so check the water level frequently. A fresh tree that is kept in water should last four to five weeks.

Selecting a location in the house – Pick a spot for your tree that is not near a heating vent, wood stove, or fireplace, as this tends to dry the tree out. Ensure that your tree is secured in a sturdy tree stand away from high traffic areas and sources of open flames, such as candles and fireplaces. Check to see that all lights have cords that are not worn or frayed, and never leave home or go to bed with the Christmas tree lights on.

Recycle when the holidays are over – If your community does not offer a tree-recycling program, there are several creative ways to make further use of your tree. You can place the tree in the backyard to offer cover for wildlife, or under bird feeders to provide nesting locations in the branches. Your tree can be shredded or chipped for mulch, or you can sink it in a pond to enhance fish habitat.