The fresh scent of evergreen and the lush green color of a real tree is a comfort for many during the holiday season. However, dealing with falling needles, a bare tree, and a potential fire hazard are reasons some may opt for an artificial tree. For those who want to keep the real tree tradition alive, there are many ways you can improve the odds of your tree making it until the big day.
Read on to learn how to stop needles from falling off your Christmas tree.
Select the Right Tree
Selecting the right Christmas tree can have a huge impact on the lifespan of your tree. Fir’s are the best at holding their needles, making them an excellent choice. Pine trees also have good needle retention and are a good second choice to Fir. Spruce trees are bad for dropping their needles, especially if allowed to dry out at all. They are not the best choice for those wanting their tree to last more than a few weeks.
Inspecting the needles is important when picking your Christmas tree. Do a pull test, running your fingers over the branches. The needles should not fall off when you do this. Pinch a needle between your thumb and forefinger, it should bend, rather than break. You can also do a shake test, lightly jiggling the tree by holding the trunk. A few needles will likely fall, but there should not be a pile on the ground. A fresh tree will also be fragrant and have a rich green color.
Keep It Fresh
The best way to ensure a fresh Christmas tree is to cut it down yourself. If you are selecting one from a tree lot, be sure to either have them freshly cut about 1 inch off the bottom for you or do this yourself at home. Once you cut the trunk, place it in water as soon as possible. If a tree isn’t put in water within 12 hours of cutting, you will need to cut it again. If you aren’t bringing it indoors yet, you can leave it in an unheated garage or a protected area outside in a bucket of water.
Another option is to opt for a potted Christmas tree—this is as fresh as you can get. It won’t survive as long inside as a cut tree, but afterward, you can acclimatize it and then put it back outside to continue growing.
Keep It Cool
One of the main reasons Christmas trees decline and dry out indoors is due to the warm temperature. This is especially true in the winter months when the furnace and fireplace are blasting. Place your tree in a cool location, away from heating sources and back from the south and west-facing windows. To extend the life of your tree, you can also lower the thermostat when you leave the home or at night.
Water! Water! Water!
The number one thing you can do to ensure your tree doesn’t dry out and drop needles is to make sure it always has lots of water. DO NOT allow the reservoir in your tree stand to dry out. If this happens, the tree may seal its base with sap and won’t be able to drink any more water. You can save your tree by removing it and recutting it, but this is a hassle when you already have a fully decorated tree. To prevent this; water, water, water.
Christmas trees can drink up to a gallon a day depending on the diameter of their trunk and will drink more water in the first few days. The tree stand should be large enough to hold a gallon of water, and you should check on the water levels twice a day, refilling as needed. Additional supplements, such as sugar or fertilizer are not needed and may negatively affect the health of the tree. Stick with lots of tap water and your tree will reward you with rich, green needles.
Watch the Lights
The lights you use can also have an effect on the health of your tree. Lights that heat up may dry out the tree, causing the needles to fall off early. To avoid this use lights that don’t emit as much heat, such as LED. Also, be mindful of how long you leave the lights on. Be sure to turn them off when you leave the house and when you retire for the night.
Surviving the Holiday Season
Part of the reality of having a real Christmas tree is cleaning up needles. No amount of tips or tricks will stop a real tree from shedding a few of its needles in your home. However, buying a fresh tree, cutting the bottom, and keeping it hydrated are the best ways to stop excessive needles from falling off your Christmas tree. This will improve the chances of your tree making it through the holiday season, and increase the tree’s fire resistance for a safer celebration.
Do you have a real Christmas tree? How do you stop the needles from falling off? Share your tricks in the comments!