Proper care for your cut tree
- Once a tree is cut, if the stump is not immediately placed in water, the sap at the cut surface will begin drying. A seal of dried sap will form over the cut stump in four to six hours, preventing the tree from absorbing water. Therefore, before you set up your tree, make a fresh cut across the base of the trunk at least a quarter inch (but no more that one inch) up from the original cut and place the tree immediately in a tree stand that holds water.
- Keep the stand full of water. Hot tap water is best. The tree will absorb as much as a gallon of water in the first 24 hours and one or more quarts each day thereafter. Water (plain old tap water) is the most important thing to a tree because it keeps the needles from drying out and dropping from the tree. Water is also necessary to keep the tree fragrant.
- Once your tree is set up, make sure the stand is kept full of water so that it does not dry out. If the stand is allowed to dry up for more than a couple hours, remove the tree from the stand and make a fresh cut across the base of the trunk at least a quarter inch (but no more that one inch) up from the original cut. Return the tree to the tree stand and fill the stand immediately with hot tap water. If the tree is allowed to dry up, it may never recover.
- It is not necessary to gradually introduce your tree to warm temperatures before bringing it indoors. However, once the tree is set up, allow time for the tree to warm up before decorating. The branches will relax and spread out as the tree approaches room temperature.
- Keep your tree away from heat and draft sources such as fireplaces, furnaces, radiators and television sets. These will dry up the tree beyond recovery.
- Only use indoor lights on your indoor tree. Check lights to make sure cords and connections are in proper working order. Never use more than three light sets per extension cord.
Proper care for your dug (balled and burlapped) tree
- Before you buy your dug tree, remember that the ground in December and January when you are ready to plant your tree will be frozen. Therefore, dig a hole 19 to 20 inches deep and 30 to 36 inches diameter (for a 24 inch root ball) when the ground is still warm where you will want to plant your tree. Fill the hole with leaves and cover with a plastic tarp. Keep the dirt removed from the hole in a warm place to keep it from freezing.
- When you bring your tree home, keep the root ball moist. A four to six foot tree will need a quart of water per day.
- Several days before bringing your dug tree indoors, the tree should be placed in an unheated and protected enclosure, such as a garage, carport or basement. If no enclosure is available, keep the tree at the northeast side of the house. This conditioning will help the tree adapt to temperature and humidity changes that it will experience when it is brought indoors.
- To bring the tree indoors, place the tree in a waterproof container, such as a tub, and place sand or gravel around the root ball to keep it secure. Realize that a 24 inch root ball will weigh approximately 250 pounds.
- Remember that your tree will require at least a quart of water a day. Keep the root ball moist.
- Keep the tree at a 65 to 68 degree indoor temperature, and do not keep the tree indoors for more than one week.
- Once you are ready to move the tree outdoors, gradually condition it to the outdoor temperature by first placing it in a sheltered area for several days.
- When you are ready to plant your tree, remove the plastic and leaves from your prepared location. Remove the burlap and strapping from the root ball. Place the tree in the hole. The top of the root ball should be even with the original soil grade. Fill the hole with the soil that you saved. Water your tree thoroughly and cover with mulch. Do not let the soil dry out until until the tree is well-established.