Melinda's Gardening How-To: Tree Care

Melinda's Gardening How-To: Growing Herbs

Keep your Christmas tree looking its best...

... with just a bit of time, preparation and care.


You’ll need:

  • Quality tree or two that will fit the available space
  • Sturdy Stand with a large water reservoir
    • A larger reservoir that holds at least one gallon of water reduces the risk of the reservoir going dry and shortening the lifespan of your tree
    • Plus you’ll need to add water less often
    • Investing in the right tree stand will keep your tree standing tall and looking its best with minimal ongoing care.
  • Decorations
  • Lights
  • Cookies, hot chocolate and cider
    • Add a few friends and family to help decorate


Keep your Tree Looking its Best

  • Store your tree in a cool shaded location, out of the wind, until you are ready to move it indoors.
  • Re-cut the bottom of the stem right before moving it indoors.
    • Remove at least a quarter of an inch to open up the vessels that allow the tree to absorb water.
    • Prune off more if you need to reduce the height of the tree.
    • Use spare branches to create holiday centerpieces and containers.
  • Place and secure the tree in the stand and fill with water.
    • Add a Christmas tree preservative to help keep your tree fresh.
  • Check the water level several times during the first 24 hours your tree is indoors.
    • Trees can take up as much as two quarts of water in this short time
    • Add more water as needed keeping the reservoir full.
  • String the Lights and hang your ornaments


Keep Checking

  • Water is the key to keeping your tree fresh. Make sure the tree stand is always full.
    • Assign one of the youngsters to watering duty. Tell them it is a great way to get on Santa's Nice List.
    • Purchase or make your own tree watering device
      • All you need is a large bucket or waterproof decorative tin to serve as an auxiliary reservoir.
      • Use a wick or tubing to move water from the auxiliary reservoir to the tree stand as needed.
      • Fill both with water as needed.
      • Monitor to make sure the system is working and make adjustments as needed. 


What to Do - If the Stand Goes Dry

  • Once the tree stand reservoir goes dry, the tree stops taking up water, dries, and the sound of dropping needles fill the room.
    • The cure, re-cut the stem right after the stand runs dry. Not too practical once the tree is covered with ornaments.
    • University of Florida recommends lifting the tree straight up and drilling several holes in the trunk below the water line.


Post Holiday Care 

  • Once the holidays are past and decorations stored don't let your Christmas tree join the others at the curb or recycling center. Put this valuable resource to work protecting your outdoor plants and providing shelter for the songbirds throughout the winter.
    • Use your Christmas tree and those discarded by the neighbors as windbreaks for plants and wildlife.
      • Secure your tree to a post shepherds crook or other support.
      • Decorate with birdseed ornaments to attract even more birds to your garden.
    • Cut off the branches and spread them over perennials and bulb gardens as winter mulch.
      • The boughs make great insulation reducing the risk of frost heaving and early sprouting that can occur during winter thaws and fluctuating temperatures
      • The needles will not make the soil too acidic. They will add organic matter and nutrients to the soil as they drop to the ground. This helps improve both sandy and clay soil.
    • Save a few trees and use them as trellises in the vegetable garden.
      • Stake the tree to a T post or other secure post
      • Plant and train pole beans to grow up and over the bare branches.
      • Picking will be fun and easy plus you will enjoy the unique display your bean “tree” provides.Now sit back, relax, and take time during the busy holidays to admire your beautiful tree.

 Now sit back, relax and take time during the busy holidays to admire your beautiful tree.


Written by gardening expert, Melinda Myers. Melinda Myers is a nationally recognized gardening expert with more than 30 years of horticulture experience. She is a wealth of knowledge and we are pleased to share Melinda’s Gardening How-To with you!