Six tips for Christmas tree care

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Christmas trees

The Christmas tree is one of the focal decorations of the home during the holiday season, and putting up the tree is one of the most looked-forward-to traditions.

If you’re going to pick out your Christmas tree soon at a tree farm or tree lot, or even if you already have, make sure you know the proper care that cut trees require.

Whether you have a Douglas-fir, eastern white pine, blue spruce or other tree species, basic tree care suggestions from Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences will ensure that your tannenbaum lasts throughout the Christmas season.

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Recycle your Christmas tree after the holidays

1. Turn down the temperature

A cut Christmas tree will live longer if the temperature is lower and the humidity is higher. Set your thermostat back a few degrees and partially or fully close any vents in the room that the tree is set up. Place a small humidifier in the same room as the tree, or use a whole-house humidifier if you have one.

Keep the tree away from sources of heat: fireplaces, radiator or in front of a window the receives direct sunlight.

2. Recut the trunk

If it’s been more than eight hours since your tree was originally cut and you haven’t yet set it up in your house, recut the trunk. Cut straight across the trunk, removing at least an inch from the bottom. The purpose of the cut is to allow the trunk to absorb water.

3. Use a proper-sized stand

Make sure your tree stand is big enough and strong enough for your Christmas tree. Consider wrapping the base of the tree in a plastic tree disposal bag before placing it in the stand. When you’re ready to dispose of your tree at the end of the season, pull the bag up over the tree to catch all of the loose needles and branches.

4. Water your tree

Water should be replenished daily for your tree. The stand should hold at least one gallon of water. During the first week of being cut, the trunk will absorb a large amount of water.

The water level should never be below the cut end of the trunk. If the water level does drop that low, a seal of dried sap will form as quickly as four hours later. If this does happen, the tree will have to be recut to remove the sap seal.

5. Lighting safety

Inspect lights before putting them on your tree to make sure they work properly. Don’t leave your lit Christmas tree unattended. If you’re leaving your house, unplug the lights on your tree.

6. Taking the tree down

When you notice that your Christmas tree is becoming too dry — normally after four weeks — take it down. Some communities offer curbside pick-up for Christmas trees or drop-off locations to dispose of them. Your tree can be mulched, used as compost, set up in a yard or garden and used for feeding or sheltering birds and wildlife or even used as cover in fish ponds.

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