How To Keep Your Christmas Tree Alive

It seems that each year, the Christmas songs and decorations arrive just a little earlier. Let's face it-as soon as Thanksgiving is over, we're turning on the Hallmark channel, breaking out the eggnog, and putting up the tree. While many people opt for artificial trees nowadays, some of us hold on dearly to traditional, real evergreens. There's nothing that'll transport you back to your childhood Christmas mornings like the fresh, evergreen scent of a real Christmas tree.

However, the biggest complaint we hear about real trees is that they tend to dry out and lose their vibrancy before the holidays are through. Not only are dull, dry needles a fire hazard, but they also make a pretty lackluster backdrop for Christmas Day photos. Luckily, by choosing the right evergreen and following these simple care tips, you can keep your tree fresher, for longer.

Popular Christmas Trees

The first step to picking the perfect Christmas tree, one that's going to last, is knowing which species are best suited for the job. Here are some of our favorite evergreens that make the best Christmas trees:

Balsam Fir: If you've ever attended the lighting ceremony in the Memorial Hall at the Capitol here in Bismarck, you've seen how radiant Balsam firs are. Their dense branching and perfect, pyramidal shape make them one of the most popular choices. They're also known for retaining their bright, soft needles much longer than other evergreens.

Fraser Fir: A classic choice, Fraser firs offer stunning two-toned needles with shades of green on top and silvery undersides. With their branches turning slightly upwards, they show off this unique feature quite well. Fraser firs have a narrower pyramidal shape, making them an excellent choice for homes with limited space.

White Pine: Pines feature longer, softer needles that make putting up the tree much less painful than it already is. White pines are known for their longevity and for displaying their bright green-blue hues well past Christmas day. Although their delicate branches aren't ideal for heavy ornaments, they display dainty decorations and string lights beautifully.

Scotch Pine: Don't be fooled by the soft, almost fluffy appearance of this pine—its strong branches are perfect for those who like to decorate to the nines. Scotch pines are another traditional choice, filling the room with its vibrant green color and fresh alpine scent. If you like to decorate your home early, you'll love this evergreen's fantastic needle-retaining capabilities!

Colorado Blue Spruce: This stunning blue spruce is by far the most popular spruce choice for Christmas trees. With a natural, frosty appearance and fresh fragrance, this evergreen definitely gives off winter wonderland vibes. Its sturdy branches make it super easy to decorate.

Choosing a Healthy Tree

While you can't go wrong with choosing any of the evergreens listed above for your most cherished holiday decoration, you still have to make sure to pick a healthy one! Before buying a tree or cutting one down, inspect it for the following things:

  • Look for trees with vibrant color, and with the fewest amount of discolored needles. Yellow or brown needles aren't signs of health and aren't going to radiate in your home.
  • Give the tree a good shake—both to shed the snow and to see how well the needles cling on. If you notice a lot of needles falling off, they're probably already pretty dry. The needles should feel firm and pliable when you run the branches through your hand.

Finally, look for signs of pests and disease, such as dying branches or discoloration. Unhealthy evergreens aren't going to last as long once they're cut down, and you certainly don't want to bring any pests into your home

Real Christmas Tree Care Tips

A lot of people delay putting up their real tree until mid-December to make sure it will last until the New Year. In reality, they can actually last up to five weeks if you care for them properly. These tips will keep your tree alive longer, so you can embrace the holidays earlier than ever!

  1. Store properly to keep it from drying out. If you aren't putting your real tree up right away, make sure to store it in an unheated shed or garage. Give the trunk a fresh cut (about one-inch) and place it in a bucket of water until you're ready to put it up.
  2. Trim the trunk to encourage water uptake. Unless you've just cut the tree down yourself, give the trunk another trim before putting it up. This will get rid of any resin that may have dried onto the cut, which can block water from being absorbed.
  3. Spray the tree with an anti-transpirant. Products like Wilt Stop or Wilt Pruf help to shield evergreens from moisture loss through transpiration, helping them stay fresh all through the holidays.
  4. Keep it away from heat sources. Similar to your houseplants, heat will naturally draw moisture out of evergreen needles. Avoid placing your Christmas tree near a heater or heat pump, and turn the Christmas lights off when you're not home or not awake to enjoy them. Not only will this help preserve the needles, but even more importantly, it reduces the risk of a fire.
  5. Keep your evergreen hydrated. Watering your Christmas tree is the most important thing you can do to keep it alive as long as possible. Choose a stand with a large reservoir and check it often to ensure there's always enough water there to keep your Christmas tree's needles fresh and hydrated.

 Knowing how to care for your Christmas tree correctly gives you a much larger window in which you can enjoy it. No more delaying your decorating or settling for fake firs—now, can enjoy your fresh evergreen all season long! Looking for some tree-decorating inspiration? Check out our blog on festive tree toppers and holiday decorations.

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