The best way to make sure your tree stays fresh for a long time is to buy a really fresh tree. If you buy one whose needles are already falling off, it’s not going to last long.
Here are some tips for buying a fresh tree and for keeping it healthy until you’re ready to take it down:
- Shop for your tree at a lot that that stores the trees under a canopy and out of the sun. If the trees are lying on the ground, notice if there’s wet burlap between them and if the vendor has been hosing them down frequently during the day. If the trees are displayed upright, choose one that’s standing in water or has wet burlap wrapped around the bottom of its trunk.
- Cut trees stacked on hot asphalt in an exposed parking lot on an 85-degree day aren’t going to stay healthy for long.
- The fresher the tree is when you buy it, the longer it will last. There aren’t a lot of Christmas tree farms in Arizona, so the tree you buy is probably from Oregon or thereabouts. That means it was probably cut before Thanksgiving. If it’s already drying out, it will sag, discolor and drop its needles quickly once you get it into your warm house.
To determine if the tree is fresh:
- Grab the tree by the trunk and bang the bottom of it on the ground a few times. Notice how many needles fall off.
- Hold onto the center of the trunk and run your gloved hand across a branch toward you. Your glove should come up clean.
- Squeeze some needles between two fingers. If it’s brittle enough to snap in two, the tree is already drying out. Don’t buy it.
- Once you choose your tree, ask the guy at the lot to make a fresh cut on the stub of the trunk.
When get your tree home:
- Put it up right away. If you can’t do it until later, prop the tree up in a bucket of water, and keep the bucket full.
- If it’s going to be a day or two before you can get the tree into a stand, toss it in the swimming pool. This will keep it hydrated and fresh until you can put it in the house. A caution: Don’t leave the tree in the pool for more than about 24 hours or the chlorine will start to bleach the needles. And don’t throw an already-dry tree into your pool. Its needles will fall off and clog the pool filter.
- The first day your tree is in the stand, you’ll need to add water to the stand’s reservoir several times.
- After that, keep the reservoir full. Check it every day.
- Find a place for your tree that’s far away from heating vents and the fireplace. The closer it is to a heat source, the quicker it will dry out.
- Take the tree down as soon as the needles start to fall off of it.