The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Ag

December 8, 2012

Care for Christmas tree to make it last longer

ENID, Okla. — If selecting a cut tree, you need to watch for these signs the tree is too far gone.

These signs include:

• Needles are a dull, grayish-green color .  

• Needles fail to ooze pitch when broken apart and squeezed.

• Needles feel stiff and brittle.

• Needles pull off tree easily. Pine needles should bend almost double without breaking. Fir and spruce needles should break like a carrot, and not be brittle when broken.

• Fresh trees do not lose needles easily when shaken.  

Once you have your tree home, recut the trunk about one inch above the original cut. This will open clogged, water-conducting tissues. Immediately place the trunk in warm water.

Locate the tree in as cool a spot as possible. Avoid areas near fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, heat ducts and television sets, as the heat will result in excess water loss.

After the tree is taken home, a section of about one inch in thickness should be removed from the base of the tree, and the tree placed in water.  Fresh trees can take up as much as three quarts of water each day, so the bowl should be checked and filled regularly. Watering should continue throughout the season.

If the reservoir loses enough water that the bottom of the trunk is exposed, the trunk will need to be recut. Adding aspirins, copper pennies, soda pop, sugar and bleach to the water reservoir has not been shown to prolong the life of a tree.

If you choose a living Christmas tree, be sure to dig the planting hole before the ground freezes. Mulch the hole and backfill soil. Live trees should not be kept inside for more than three days. Longer periods may cause them to lose dormancy, resulting in severe injury when planted outside.

You may wish to tag the tree at the nursery and then pick it up a couple days before Christmas. After Christmas, move the tree to an unheated garage for several days to acclimatize it to outside temperatures. After planting, water well and leave some mulch in place to prevent the soil water from freezing and becoming unavailable for plant uptake.

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