Five questions: Tree TLC
Chuck Wilderson, owner of Wilderson Tree Farm in Basehor, discusses proper care for fresh Christmas trees.
Q: How do I choose a good fresh tree?
A: People always want the perfect tree. There’s no perfect tree shape, but everyone has their own opinion. Just find a tree shape you like. The best option is to go to a tree farm and have a tree cut, because then you know it’s as fresh as possible. The fresher it is, the easier it is for the tree to soak up water and stay fresh and green.
Q: If I buy a pre-cut tree from a store, what should I look for?
A: Avoid a tree that has brown needles or that sheds needles easily, possibly by the handful. Trees at big box stores are sometimes cut a month in advance. At that point, the tree might not soak up any more water because it has sapped over, and it won’t last through the holiday season.
Q: How should I care for the tree once it’s home?
A: The secret to keeping the tree fresh and alive is supplying enough water. If you get a pre-cut tree, cut off an inch from the trunk so there’s fresh wood to soak up the water. For the first watering, mix a specialized Christmas tree food with warm water and fill the tree stand. From then on, using cold water is fine. People used to think adding sugar was the way to go, but sugar can ferment.
Q: How often should I water?
A: That first night, a tree can drink a gallon to a gallon and a half of water, depending on the size. Just make sure there’s enough water to cover the stump or sap will seal it over and it won’t be able to take in more water.
Q: Any other pointers to keep my tree fresh all season?
A: Keep the tree away from heating vents or fireplaces. The heat will dry it out and it won’t stay fresh.