Christmas-Tree Care Tips

bent tree
So, you've decided to "get real" (or, stay real) this year.  Congratulations on choosing a real tree.  The environment thanks you!

A real Christmas tree (from 67th Winnipeg Scout Group) is a delightful thing.  However, some consideration in the set up, care and disposal of the tree will help avoid it turning into a frightful thing.

The Needles!

The reality with real trees is that needles naturally die and fall off.  The leaves on deciduous trees all fall off each year in the fall (we guess that's why they call it "fall").  The leaves (needles) on a coniferous tree (e.g., fir, pine, spruce Christmas tree) fall off continuously but never all at once.

knitting needles
Older, inner needles tend to discolour and drop first.  With short-needled trees, such as firs, most of the needles drop to the ground.  However, with long-needled trees, such as Scotch pines, the needles become lodged in the branches and, if not removed, continue to fall out during set up, and subsequent disposal. Shaking the tree before taking it inside the house eliminates any messiness at set-up.

The Stand!

Christmas tree in stand
Be sure to select a stand that is stable enough to hold the size of Christmas tree you are setting up.  Sometimes, a tree does not look very large when you first see it outdoors at the Christmas-tree lot.  Once inside, it's easier to appreciate how big and heavy the tree may be.

The stand should hold lots of water.  A good rule of thumb is one litre per inch of stem.

The Install!

If you have a tree bag, place it on the floor around the stand before you insert the tree in the stand.  That way, when it's time to take your 67th Christmas tree down, you can just lift up the bag and enclose the whole tree.  Cover the unsightly bag with a tree skirt after the tree is in place.

If you have stored your Christmas tree outside in the frozen cold of Winnipeg, you should make a fresh cut straight across the trunk about an inch away from the original cut before bringing the tree inside and setting it in water.

Once the tree has been cut, place it in water as soon as possible (within four hours or less of cutting).  A large Christmas tree can absorb up to four litres of water a day, so keep the stand filled with fresh water.  Christmas trees typically take a lot of water the first week or two, then slow down.

The Care and Safe Enjoyment of the Tree!

Because a Christmas tree is a living thing, it requires maintenance to keep it looking good. Treat your tree well, and it will treat you well.

Check the water level often and do not let the water level go below the base of the trunk.

Needle loss is not the sign of a bad tree, although many people think so.  As needles fall off, they may become stuck in branches and other needles.  Occasional shaking of the tree (with a vacuum cleaner handy) will help the clusters of dead needles come out.

Keep the tree away from major sources of heat (fireplaces, heaters, heat vents, direct sunlight).  Besides the fire risk, the warm, dry air will speed drying of the tree.

Lowering the room temperature will slow the drying process, resulting in less water consumption each day (not that the air ever gets dry in a Winnipeg winter; we're just sayin' ...).

Inspect your lights to make sure there are no frayed or exposed wires.  Disconnect the lights when you go to bed or leave the house.

Try to keep pets away from your tree.  There are many home remedies for repelling critters.  But, we say "try," because the reality is that your cat will decide, not you.

The Removal and Disposal!

• Prior to disposal, let the water bowl dry out or carefully empty it, to avoid spillage when you take down the tree.

• A tree bag (large plastic bag that can contain a whole tree) placed over small-to medium-sized trees before they are moved out of their set-up location will contain the debris and needles.

forestry working cutting with chain saw
• If you have a large Christmas tree, cut it into smaller parts, then bag and remove the pieces individually.

• Take your Christmas tree, bag and all, to the city-operated recycling centres, or consider other recycling options.

• You can now let your cat out of lock-up.

The Wreath Care!

Try not to place the wreath in direct sunlight.

The wreath will last much longer if displayed outside the home (again, ideally not in direct sunlight).

At the beginning of the season, spritzing the wreath with hair spray will help it retain moisture and last longer.

Alternatively, daily misting with water will help preserve the wreath.

The Thank You!

67th Winnipeg Scouts thank you for your purchase.  We hope you enjoy your tree.