Ongoing Care of Your Christmas Tree

A hand inspects a sprig of Christmas tree fir

Ongoing Care of Your Christmas Tree

Providing you’ve been following the advice in our guide so far, your tree will be in premium condition and you’ll have given it the best possible chance of surviving the season with minimal further attention required. But there are still some steps you can take to maximise its longevity.

Obviously the number one advice will be to give your tree a regular supply of water. This is especially important in the first few days. A newly cut Christmas tree can drink as much as four litres of water in the first 24 hours.

When you first put your tree up, you should check the water level in the reservoir every few hours to be sure it hasn’t dropped below the base of the tree. After the first few days you‘ll find that you can probably just cut this back to once or twice a day.

Once the level drops and the tree is no longer in the water, the drying out process starts to accelerate. Symptoms include drooping or wilting branches and needles becoming dry and falling out. Bringing the water level back up above the base will slow the drying process down again, but unlike a living tree, the damage is not likely to be reversed.

Dried out and brown Christmas tree floating in water
Vintage watering can with Santa scene enamel

We’re often asked if plant food should be added to the water but in our experience there seems to be little or no difference between trees that get that kind of treatment and those that just have good old tap water. It makes sense really, since the tree isn’t alive any more, nutrients won’t make much difference. It’s far more effective to make sure the water doesn’t drop below the base of the tree.

Besides making sure your tree has something to drink you should regularly check the larger branches and the trunk for signs of sap seepage and clean it off with some kitchen towel or other absorbent material. This doesn’t help the tree so much as protect your furnishings and floor coverings.

While we’re talking about protecting things other than the tree, don’t use a vacuum cleaner to clean up fallen needles. Any needles on the floor will be there because they were too dry to stay attached to the tree, and will only have gotten more dry since becoming detached. These needles will be hard and stiff and there are many components of your vacuum cleaner that could be damaged by them. We heard one nightmare story where the bag burst and sprayed the contents out through the vents and all over the room.

Stick to a dustpan and brush instead, they’re much cheaper than a new hose or filter. Keeping your tree hydrated will reduce the needles on the floor anyway so you shouldn’t have that many to deal with.

A mess of pine needles
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