For most people, the thing they tend to worry about most with a cut, live Christmas trees is how long the needles are going to last before they either fall off, get trampled around the house or get stuck in the soles of your feet. The trouble with cut trees is this, over half of a Christmas trees weight is down to the water inside it. So when its roots are cut off for sale, the tree is no longer able to replenish the water it loses through evaporation and transpiration (the emission of water vapour in plants).

A Christmas tree will lose water naturally through its needles, but without roots it will be unable to replace that which is lost. Once this water loss reaches a critical level the trees natural defence system will kick in and it will try to shed as many needles as possible before it dies of dehydration (desiccation) in an attempt to save itself.

There are techniques you can use that will slow their water loss down, and this will prolong the time that the needles will stay on the stems and branches, but you need to start treatment as soon as possible after the tree has been cut.

The problem that occurs here is that most trees you buy would have had their roots removed a week or two earlier – sometimes more – before they even reach a shop, and each shop generally stops buying new stock during the second week in December. By that time, and particularly if the weather has been warm, they would have been drying out for a week or two and will probably be dropping leaves as soon as they are out of their protective netting. If you are the type of person who looks for a bargain just one or two days before Christmas day then you really are going to get what you pay for.

With all trees slightly differing some are worse for drying out than others, but with a little attention, you can maintain the quality of your display trees until the twelfth day itself. Check out our top tips for Christmas tree care.

How to prevent a Christmas tree from dropping its needles

1. The first thing to do with your chosen tree is to make a fresh cut 1-2 inches back from the base, quite often this is a service that your retailer will provide, but you may have to ask first.

Try not to bruise or dirty the cut surface otherwise you may need to give it another cut when you get home

2. Once you return home place the fresh cut into a container of water as this will allow some uptake of fluid back into the plant. If you intend to put you tree up in the home straight away, then your choice of Christmas tree stand then become important.

There are many on the market now that come with an in-built reservoir. I would advise purchasing one to keep your tree in peak condition. Remember to keep it topped up though as you will be surprised at how much water it will use. If you intend to wait before you decorate your tree then it will probably be best for your tree to leave it outside in the cold. The colder it is the less water will be lost through evaporation and transpiration.

3. With regards to Christmas tree stands make sure that it is of a suitable size for your tree. If you think that you can get away with a smaller size you will end up having to whittle away its base to make it fit.

By doing this, you will be removing the cambium layer responsible for water intake. This negates the point of having a stand with a reservoir. Your tree is also more likely to fall over!

4. Use small LED or low voltage lights as they will produce little or no heat. Larger lights will warm up where they touch the branches causing water loss.

5. If possible, keep your tree in a cool room, out of draughts and direct sunlight as this will all help in reducing water loss. If this isn't possible then remember to keep your tree away from direct sources of heat such as electric or open fires.

WARNING! Pine sap can be highly volatile if accidentally ignited, and if a tree catches light you can lose more that just your prized Christmas ornaments, you may end up losing your home! Remember the the longer the tree has been without roots, the drier it becomes and this increases the risk of it all going up in flames!

6. Finally, the oldest trick in the book. Spray the underside of you tree with hair spray as this will block the stomatal pores in the needles that allow water to escape.

Unfortunately this will also make your tree more flammable, although nowadays you can buy cans of Xmas tree 'needle-fast' spray. You generally find them next to cans of Christmas tree pine fragrance - perhaps the most ridiculous product on the market today as it can end up making your room smell like a 1970's toilet!

For related article click onto the following links:
Christmas Tree

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