Tips for buying and keeping your Christmas tree fresh

Christmas trees on display at the Brandywine Ace, Pet & Farm in Pocopson. Following a few simple tips can lead to your tree lasting longer.

With Christmas now just weeks away, local shoppers will be thinking about where, when and how to buy their Christmas trees. The folks at Brandywine Ace Hardware & Pet — who already have a wide selection of trees available, have been offering advice to those who want to have the best experiences with their trees this holiday season.

Citing recommendations from the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA), the folks at Brandywine Ace point out a few common sense tips for finding the best trees and them keeping them fresh throughout the entire season.

Keeping your tree fresh isn’t complicated, as long as you remember  few key tips.

The first tip — make sure the tree you bring home is fresh to start with:

  • When you find a tree that you like, do a freshness test to make sure that it’s worthy to come home with you. Gently grasp a branch between your thumb and forefinger and pull it toward you. Very few needles should come off in your hand if the tree is fresh. Shake or bounce the tree on its stump. You shouldn’t see an excessive amount of green needles fall to the ground. Some loss of interior brown needles is normal and will occur over the lifetime of the tree.

Once you find that perfect, lush, green tree, how you set it up and take care of it will have a lot to do with how long it lasts, the NCTA experts say.

  • After you’ve chosen your tree, keep it in a sheltered, unheated area, such as a porch or garage, to protect it from the wind and sun until you are ready to decorate it. If you won’t be decorating it right away, place the tree in a bucket full of water that you refill as needed.
  • Just before you set up your tree, make a fresh, straight cut across the base of the trunk (about 1/2 inch up from the original cut) and place the tree in a tree stand that holds a gallon of water or more. If you don’t cut off some of the trunk, the tree won’t be able to absorb water, and it will dry out and become a fire hazard.
  • Make sure your tree stand will hold enough water for the size of your tree. Measure the diameter of your tree trunk inches — that’s how many quarts of water your tree stand should be able to hold. (For example, if it measures 6 inches across, then you need 6 quarts of water.)

Even if you’ve picked well and set up your tree properly, a little maintenance goes a long way to keeping your tree fresh.

  • Keep the tree stand filled with water. A seal of dried sap will form over the cut stump in four to six hours if the water drops below the base of the tree. If a seal does form, you’ll have to make another fresh cut, which is much harder to do when the tree’s decorated.
  • A tree will absorb as much as a gallon of water or more in the first 24 hours and one or more quarts a day thereafter. Water is important because it prevents the needles from drying and dropping off and the boughs from drooping. Water also keeps the tree fragrant.
  • For safety, keep your tree away from all heat sources, such as fireplaces, radiators, baseboard heat, portable heaters, television sets, and heat vents. Not only can all of these can make the tree dry out faster, but can also contribute to setting a tree on fire.

The folks at Brandywine Ace remind you, that in addition to a wide selection of fresh trees, they also carry just about everything you need from lights to tree stands to help you make your Christmas season the merriest ever.

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