Now that you have your Christmas tree, the following are some guidelines for taking care of it!
Q: Prior to placing the Christmas tree in a water holding stand, how much of the trunk base should be removed to increase water intake?
A: Removing a thin disk (1/4 inch) off the trunk prior to placing the tree in a water holding stand is all that is necessary. Some people have the misconception that 1 or 2 inches of trunk should be removed. The reduction of water uptake is at the point of the old cut so the thickness of the disk removed is not important.
Q: Will cutting the trunk of the Christmas tree at an angle increase water uptake?
A: No. A cut perpendicular to the axis of the trunk is just as effective as any other type cut. It is more difficult to keep an angle trunk cut covered with water.
Q: Will evaporation-control chemical reduce water evaporation from the stand so that water doesn’t have to be added to the stand as often?
A: No. Water lost from a cut Christmas tree is taken up through the trunk and evaporates from the foliage. Little if any water is lost from the tree stand. A cut tree must be watered regularly.
Q: Do all species of trees keep equally well after being cut?
A: Certain species of trees last longer and remain fresh longer than others. Some of the trees that remain fresh for a long period of time are balsam fir, Scotch pine, Douglas fir and Fraser fir. The Eastern red cedar and Virginia pine dry out extremely fast when not in water. Remember an excessively dry tree will not take up water when it is placed in a tree stand, even with a fresh cut base.
Q: How much water will a fresh cut tree absorb?
A: It is not uncommon for a tree to use as much as two quarts of water during the first 24 hours it is inside the home. Add water to the tree stand each morning and evening unless you use a tree stand with a large water holding capacity. The tree should continue to take up a quart or more of water during the first week in the home. The amount of water taken up by a tree depends on the size of the tree and how cool the home is kept.
Q: Drilling the base of the tree to fit on the center peg type of water stand is all that is needed to allow water to be taken up by the tree, right?
A: No. The wood near the center of the trunk is not very effective in taking up water. Most of the water taken up by a cut tree is through the area under the bark. This is the area containing the cambium layer in the living tree. This area has the xylem and phloem which are the vessels that conduct water up and down the tree. They will continue to function until they become plugged.
If you have other questions about your garden or landscape, feel free to contact a Master Gardener volunteer at the University of Illinois Extension office in Charleston at 217-345-7034. You can also check out the many horticulture webpages at the U of I Extension’s website by visiting http://web.extension.illinois.edu/ccdms/ . And be sure to like the Master Gardeners’ Facebook page, at www.facebook.com/ColesCountyMasterGardeners.