O Christmas tree, how do I keep you green?

Christmas tree care

Kayla Fournier of Backbone Valley Nursery adds water to Christmas trees for sale. Watering, especially the first week a cut Christmas tree is indoors, is important to keeping it vibrant and green through the holiday season. Along with having a good stock of trees, Backbone Valley Nursery has a knowledgable staff. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

Watching your once-lush Christmas tree shed its needles just before the big holiday can make you want to buy a plastic one.

But before you swear off that real Frasier fir, Mary Kay Pope of Backbone Valley Nursery of Marble Falls has some words of advice.

“The very first thing they should do when they get the tree home is put a fresh cut on the bottom,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be much, but you need to do that.”

It’s the first thing the staff at Backbone Valley Nursery did November 19 when they unloaded a Christmas tree shipment from North Carolina. And Pope, who gets a cut tree every year, does the same thing at home.

But your job isn’t done after making the cut: You also have to put the tree in water — STAT! An evergreen tree’s vascular system will quickly seal cuts.

“… You only have thirty minutes to get it in water before the cut heals up,” Pope cautioned.

When shopping for cut trees, Pope recommends businesses that put their trees in water once they get them (after making a fresh cut, of course). Each of the Frasier firs at Backbone Valley Nursery, even the smallest, is in a tree stand filled with water.

And watering the first week the tree’s inside your home is critical. Backbone Valley Nursery sprays its Frasier fir trees with an anti-transpirant to reduce the rate of water loss through their needles, but your home heating system can dry out a tree at a fast rate.

“A tree may take up a gallon a water a day that first week,” Pope said.

So, it’s imperative to check your tree’s water every day. The amount of water intake decreases after the first week, but Pope recommends people still monitor the level on a regular basis.

Also, place your tree away from vents to keep it from getting a dry blast of heat.

“I know from my own experience these work,” said Pope about her tips. “My own tree stays fresh well into the new year by doing these things.”

One more thing: Putting additives in the Christmas tree’s water is not necessary.

“I’ve heard of all sorts of things, aspirin, putting some Sprite in the water; you’d be amazed. You can even buy stuff that they say you should put in the water to keep the tree green and healthy,” Pope said. “But every university study and even the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association say you don’t need any of it. The best thing they say is just plain old, clean water.”

However, if you have a water softener, use untreated water from an outside faucet for your tree. According to Pope, the salt in softened water isn’t good for a Christmas tree, or any plant for that matter.

Backbone Valley Nursery is located at 4201 FM 1980 in Marble Falls. Call 830-693-9348 for more information.

daniel@thepicayune.com

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