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Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.

Keep the Christmas Tree Alive

By November 23, 2012

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Christmas Tree (Getty Images)I love having a real Christmas tree, but I'm a little lazy on watering and usually don't get around to taking down the tree until... say... Valentine's Day, so the past several years I have had a potted living tree. On the one hand, it is not as large as a cut tree and it doesn't fragrance the room. On the other hand, it probably helps humidify the room all winter and doesn't require much care at all. Somehow I managed to not-kill it over the course of the year, so it will be my tree again this year. I'd recommend trying a living tree to people who have a little light in their homes and don't mind having a large houseplant, at least until the weather is warm enough to move it outdoors.

If you're going the traditional route, with a cut tree, you can keep it green and healthy for a month by giving it a little care at the beginning. First, cut off the bottom inch of the trunk to provide a fresh surface for the tree to uptake water. You may want to spray the tree with an anti-desiccant to help prevent too much water loss through the needles. Make sure the tree has a lot of water when you first bring it into your home. Mixing Christmas tree preservative into the water can help keep your tree fresh for an extended length of time, but the most important step of watering the tree is to make sure it never dries out. You may want to make certain any lights in contact with the tree aren't hot. Obviously (I hope) don't position the tree near a lit fireplace. Similarly, try to avoid placing it the path of a heater vent.

I realize people who read this blog come from a variety of backgrounds, so a holiday tree isn't something everyone 'does', but if it's one of your traditions, I hope your tree is beautiful this year.


December 18, 2009 at 2:58 pm
(1) gin says:

appreciate your comment and help with feeding the tree, Im going to try this, this year.

December 1, 2011 at 5:35 pm
(2) john says:

It is called a christmas tree not a holiday tree the holiday we are celebrating is christmas.

December 5, 2011 at 9:06 pm
(3) Mary says:

She called it a Christmas Tree – lets be nice

December 10, 2011 at 2:14 am
(4) Andy says:

It is a Christmas Tree, We are celebrating Christmas not holidays…Therefore it is a CHRISTMAS TREE…Merry Christmas to all the people celebrating it.

December 10, 2011 at 7:13 am
(5) CassidyAnne says:

Holiday Tree , Christmas Tree, semantics.
Thank you for the tutorial. I was looking at how to keep a tree alive. This is the second year we have a live tree in our house and I’m hoping it lasts longer this year :)

December 17, 2011 at 5:23 pm
(6) Alice says:

Andy, Why don’t you try getting into the Christmas spirit and try not to be such a jerk…

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