Christmas Tree Success

Okay, you’ve picked out the perfect tree and set it up in your favorite spot.  All done, right?  No, wait, there’s more.  There are several more factors to consider:

*Make sure that the tree is not within 5 feet of a heat register or fireplace.  Constant blasts of warm air from the furnace will dry it out quickly.

*Keep the reservoir filled with fresh water.  Avoid the use of additives such as sugar, pennies, aspirin and soft drinks.  UNL research indicates that plenty of fresh water is the best material to keep a cut Christmas tree fresh as long as possible.

*A truly fresh tree is not a fire hazard, but if the tree has been allowed to dry out, fire is a very real threat.  It the tree stems break when given a twist or snap, remove it from the house, as it will never regain freshness.

*After Christmas, the tree can be used outdoors for several purposes.  It can be laid down near a bird feeder for shelter for songbirds.  Pruning off the branches and placing the boughs over perennials will provide an excellent winter mulch.  If you’re fortunate enough to have a wood chipper, it can be processed into “merry mulch” and used in flower beds and newly planted trees.  If not, it can be taken to a city recycling location for chipping and re-use on park trails.

*Never use the trunk or branches for firewood.  Evergreen trees contain a high concentration of resins and terpines, which flame quickly in a fireplace, leading to a possibility of a chimney fire.

John Fech
Horticulture Extension Educator at Nebraska Extension
John Fech is a horticulturist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture. The author of 2 books and over 200 popular and trade journal articles, he focuses his time on teaching effective landscape maintenance techniques, water conservation, diagnosing turf and ornamental problems and encouraging effective bilingual communication in the green industry. He works extensively with the media to extend the message of landscape sustainability, making over 100 television and radio appearances each year.
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