The Holidays are here again, (or should I say 'already'), and for those who celebrate the season by displaying a Christmas tree, it is time to weigh the three main options: Artificial, Fresh-cut or Living.
Since I know next to nothing about artificial trees, I'll withhold any advise in that arena.
For those who choose fresh-cut, the most popular varieties in San Diego are usually Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir or Blue Spruce. When any of these varieties are cut, over half of their weight is water. Displaying these trees in a traditional reservoir type stand is the most effective way of maintaining their freshness and minimizing needle loss. Most fresh-cut tree sales lots will make a fresh cut to remove about a 1/2" thick disk of wood from the base of the trunk which you'll want to keep clean and treat gently while transporting home. Once home, get that clean cut trunk in water as soon as possible...it's just like fresh cut flowers. Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, vents or lights. Use a stand that fits the trunk without chipping away any bark or outer layers since they wick up water even better than the middle. The general rule of thumb for how much water to use: 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter. You'll need to check the stand daily and refill to your original water mark when necessary. A warm room makes the tree draw water more quickly. The same goes for lights...the hotter they are, the quicker they dry out the tree. A dry tree, overloaded with lights is a recipe for disaster. Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. After the holidays, go to www.sandiego.gov/environmental-services/recycling/christmas to find a recycling location near you. The program, which has been offered since 1973, recycles all of the collected trees into products that are available to the public. Green recycling is essential to prolonging the life of the landfill. By recycling your Christmas tree, you are doing your part to reduce the amount of material in the landfill and help the environment by giving your holiday tree a 2nd life as compost, mulch or wood chips.
Next week, I'll talk about the third option: Choosing a Living Christmas Tree.