Symbol of the Holidays

— Written By and last updated by

The passing of Thanksgiving Day marches us closer to the next big holiday……. Christmas! The season begs the question, fresh or artificial? green or flocked? tree or no tree? A Christmas tree is a symbol of the holidays displayed in most homes during the season.

When caring for a fresh tree, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Make a fresh cut on the bottom of the stump when the tree is brought home. This fresh cut exposes open cells so that the tree can absorb water. Without that cut, gums and resins will clog up the cells in the stump and interfere with water absorption. A fresh cut will expose open cells that can absorb water.
  2. After the fresh cut is made, the tree should be put into water immediately and stored there until it can be taken indoors. Always display your tree in a water holding stand. It’s important to keep the water replenished; check it daily.
  3. Before the tree is brought indoors, store it in an area that is dark, cool, and humid. The exact location to store your tree will vary depending on your environment. It could be best stored on the north side of the house, under a large tree, or an unheated garage.

Initially, the tree may use as much as a half-gallon of water per day. Gradually that amount will taper off. But the tree’s water reservoir should be checked daily. Although there are many ideas about additives, research shows that keeping the reservoir full of fresh water is the best method of keeping lasting tree quality. In fact, some additives may have the opposite effect on tree preservation.

Once the tree is indoors, it is best displayed away from drafts and heat sources. Drafts may come around doors, windows, or air vents. Heat sources include heat vents, lights, space heaters, televisions, and other electrical devices. Drafts and heat will accelerate the rate of drying. A dry tree can become a fire hazard as well as creating a mess by dropping needles.

If trees are lighted, lights should be strung on trees so the bulbs hang away from the foliage rather than in direct contact where possible. All strings of lights should be UL approved and be checked for flaws before use. Replace any questionable strings of lights.

Trees that are freshly cut and well-watered are not likely to sustain fire. It is only when trees dry out that they become highly flammable. So, be sure to keep fire prevention in mind when placing and caring for your tree.

Locally there are at least two choose and cut lots from which to select and cut your own tree. These businesses provide the freshest trees available since they are not cut long in advance. The Tree Patch is on Henley Road where customers may cut their own tree if they desire. Their selection includes Leyland Cypress, Red Cedar, Virginia Pine, White Pine, Carolina Sapphire, Blue Ice, and Irish Mint.

Closer to Broadway is Griffin’s Evergreens on Broadway Rd. (Hwy 42). Their selection includes Leyland Cypress, White pine, and Pre-cut Fraser Firs. They also sell wreaths and tree stands.

Make a fresh cut. Keep the tree watered. Do not add anything to the water. Exercise care with tree placement and decoration.

For a copy of North Carolina Choose & Cut Christmas trees, stop by North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Lee County Center, 2420 Tramway Road, Sanford, NC 27332.

Minda Daughtry is Horticulture Agent for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Lee County.