Selecting Your Christmas Tree
- Check the height of the ceiling in the room where you will display your tree. Select a tree that is at least one foot shorter than the ceiling height.
- Run your fingers over the branch along the needles. Needles should be pliable and adhere to the branches. They should bend, but not break or fall off.
- Shake or bounce the tree to be sure that the needles are firmly attached. If the tree is fresh, few needles should fall off. Some loss of needles inside the tree is common.
- Avoid trees that have a wilted look.
- Make sure the handle of the tree is straight. The handle must be six to eight inches long to allow placement in the tree stand.
- Check for insects and dead needles inside the tree crown. Have dead needles shaken or blown out when you buy the tree.
Caring for the Christmas Tree in Your Home
- If you don't plan to put the tree up right away, cut one inch off of the base, put the tree in a bucket of water and stand it in a shady place.
- When you bring the tree indoors, cut 1/2 to one inch off of the base of the trunk and place in a tree stand that holds at least one gallon of water.
- Do not place the tree near a fireplace, heater vents or other heat sources.
- Always keep the tree well-supplied with water. Check the water level in the stand several times each day. Trees may use several quarts of water a day.
- Never let the water level fall below the base of the tree. If this occurs, the cut end can seal over, preventing further water uptake. The tree must then be taken down and a fresh cut made to allow water uptake.
- Adding aspirin, soda water, bleach or sugar to the water in the tree stand is no more effective in keeping the tree fresh than adding plain water each day.
Fireproofing Your Christmas Tree
- The best way to keep a tree fresh and fire resistant is to keep it supplied with water at all times.
- A fresh tree supplied with water presents little fire hazard. As long as the tree takes up water, it will be relatively fire resistant.
- Do not allow the water level in the tree stand to fall below the base of the tree.
- Trees can be sprayed with antitranspirants, which are clear films that slow water loss from the needles.
- Fire Marshall-approved treatments can be sprayed on trees to reduce flammability. These contain borax or other flame retardants. Check with the salesperson when you purchase your tree, or with the fire department or County Agent for specific fire-retardant treatments.
- Use only UL-approved lights and nonflammable decorations.
- Never leave home or go to bed with the Christmas tree lights on.
Combating Insect Problems
- Be aware of aphids and other insects that can enter the home on the Christmas tree and emerge in the warm house.
- Inspect the tree before bringing it indoors. Shake and bounce the tree on the pavement to dislodge insects and other foreign objects.
- If you find insects, spray the tree with an indoor-outdoor aerosol insecticide containing pyrethrins before bringing the tree inside. These insecticides are available at grocery and discount stores.
- If insects appear after the tree is in the house (look for sticky drops on the carpet and presents), spray the tree with an indoor or outdoor approved aerosol insecticide containing pyrethrins. Be sure to follow label directions when using any insecticide.
Using Your Tree After Christmas
- Grind the tree for mulch and place in flower beds or gardens.
- Use the main stem to burn in the fireplace after removing branches and needles.
- Create a fish attractor by weighting the base of the tree and sinking it in a pond.
ATTENTION! Pesticide Precautions
- Observe all directions, restrictions and precautions on pesticide labels. It is dangerous, wasteful and illegal to do otherwise.
- Store all pesticides in original containers with labels intact and behind locked doors. Keep Pesticides Our of the Reach of Children.
- Use pesticides at correct label dosage and intervals to avoid illegal residues or injury to plants and animals.
- Apply pesticides carefully to avoid drift or contamination of non-target areas.
- Surplus pesticides and containers should be disposed of in accordance with label instructions so that contamination of water and other hazards will not result.
- Follow directions on the pesticide label regarding restrictions as required by State or Federal Laws and Regulations.
The above information from Bugwood, David Moorhead – Professor of Forestry, The University of Georgia
The University of Georgia, the United States Department of Agriculture and counties of the state cooperating. The Cooperative Extension Service offers educational programs, assistance and materials to all people without regard to race, color, national origin, age, sex or handicap status. A unit of the University System of Georgia. An equal opportunity/affirmative action organization.
University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service Forest Resources Unit Leaflet 416.