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How to Keep Your Christmas Tree Alive Through the Holidays
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How to Keep Your Christmas Tree Alive Through the Holidays

Olga Oksman, Gawker Media

Photo by thkelley via Unsplash

It's that time of year again. The air is crisp, it's dark at 4pm, and for those that celebrate, it is time to get a Christmas tree. Whether you believe that Santa is coming down the chimney, a Soviet era Grandfather Frost and his trusty chaperon, the Snow Maiden, are coming to visit your non-denominational "New Year's tree," or that the Bishop of Turkey is going to swing by for a little eggnog, you are going to want that tree smelling and looking good all month. Here's how to keep those needles hydrated through Krampus Night , the winter solstice and into Christmas Day.

1. Make sure your tree can drink

Much as you need to trim the stems of flowers before putting them in water, unless you are getting your tree fresh off the farm, you need to make sure the trunk is not gummed over with sap on the bottom. This is not something you can likely do yourself at home unless you happen to have a saw and a lot of space handy. So when you buy your tree, ask the seller to cut off a thin disk at the very end, about half an inch or so, to ensure the tree has a fresh cut at the bottom and will be able to drink up water. Put the tree in water as soon as you get it home-don't leave the bottom of the trunk to dry out again.

2. Get the right kind of tree stand

You want your tree to be elevated so there is space between the end of the trunk and the water dish. You also want the stand to be able to hold a gallon of water or more. A simple plastic stand made up of a water dish with several screws designed to hold the tree firmly over the bottom of the water dish is perfect. Make sure you tighten the screws so the tree is firmly held in place. Leave about an inch or so of space between the bottom of the tree trunk and the water dish.

3. Placement

It may seem obvious, but don't place the tree next to the radiator. Since you usually don't place furniture close to the radiator either, it is often the free corner of the room that would fit the tree best, but it will also dry out a tree a lot faster and can eventually also become a fire hazard. Same goes for space heaters and any other heat sources you have in the house-make sure to place the tree away from them.

4. Water and water and water

Trees drink a surprising amount of water-just when you think you have refilled the tree's water dish, it empties out, so check it every day. In fact, during the first week to week and a half that you have the tree home, it can't hurt to check the water level twice a day, in the morning and evening. It is normal for a tree to drink as much as a gallon a day or more , depending on the diameter of the tree trunk. According to the department of horticulture at Penn State , you don't need to use any commercial tree foods and preservatives-good old-fashioned water works best.

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