If you celebrate Christmas, you probably put up some kind of Christmas tree to mark the occasion (and to place presents under). While artificial trees do a satisfactory job of generating the necessary cheer and holiday spirit, a live tree will always feel just a bit extra. It’s the smell, the glorious randomness of its shape (as opposed to the machined perfection of a fake tree), and the family ritual of picking out a tree and wrangling it home.
A live tree is just that, though—something from nature. And when you bring something from nature into your house, there’s potential for chaos. If you’re planning to have a live tree this holiday season, there are a few things you should do the moment you bring it home in order to make it last as long as possible and to ensure you have the best possible experience.
Inspect for bugs
Trees grow out in the wild, and despite the best efforts of the tree farmers overseeing the process there is a very good chance that your gorgeous live tree is jam-packed with insects. Like, thousands of microscopic little critters. From aphids to spiders, from beetles to praying mantises (!), the tree you just drove home from the lot might be a vector for a bug invasion.
That means your first step before you bring that tree into your home is to inspect it for bugs. Using a flashlight if necessary, visually inspect the tree, looking at the trunk, branches, and needles. If you see anything creeping about in there or any suspiciously egg-like deposits on the branches or needles, start by giving your tree and good shake to knock them loose. Then you can actually use a vacuum on the branches and needles to collect them and dispose of them—just do it outside.
Trim and cut it
The time to shape your tree is when it’s still outside. If you lug it into your home and then decide it’s not the perfect shape—or discover there are low branches that prevent it from fitting into the stand—you’ll have a much messier time of it. Cut off the netting or string and let the tree open up, then go ahead and trim off any bumps in the shape until you’re satisfied. If you’re not going to install the tree immediately, find a cool, sheltered place to store it, like a garage. You should place it in the stand and water it while it waits.
If you’re putting it up right away, you probably need to give the trunk a fresh cut. Unless the lot cut the trunk for you when you bought it, you should assume the tree has lost its ability to soak up water and will need a fresh cut. Trim about half an inch off the bottom—and remember, the tree must be in water within an hour after the cut or it will seal up again.
Apply an anti-desiccant spray
An anti-desiccant spray like Wilt-Pruf can help keep your tree fresher longer. These sprays are derived from tree oils, and simply coat the needles to prevent water loss, slowing down the drying-out process that transforms your lovely holiday tree into a fire hazard. If possible, apply the spray before you bring the tree inside so it’s easier to clean up afterward.
Prepare the room
You probably know where your tree is going to stand in the house, but even so, you should prepare the room for it. Your tree won’t do well in a warm, dry room, or if it’s too close to a heat source like a furnace vent or radiator (keep it at least three feet away from those if possible). If possible, make sure the room is cool—somewhere in the high 60s or low 70s.
Set up your stand and make sure it can hold enough water to keep your tree hydrated. Your tree can soak up about three quarts of water a day, but it might drink a lot more when first put in the stand—this is actually a sign that you have a healthy, fresh tree.
Let it rest
Finally, once the tree is in place, don’t decorate immediately. Let the tree hydrate and rest for 24 hours. This will allow the tree to hydrate and let its branches completely settle while it acclimates to the indoor temperature and humidity.
A live tree during the holiday season makes any home feel cozy and really emphasizes the sense of celebration this time of year inspires. Do these five things right away when you bring it home and you’ll have the best possible tree experience.
The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans
Here are the cheapest plans available for Australia’s most popular NBN speed tier.