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Robert E. Thomas
University of Missouri Cooperative Media Group
Published: Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010
Hank Stelzer, 573-882-4444
COLUMBIA, Mo. –Aspirin may be the thing for a holiday hangover, but it won’t perk up your Christmas tree.
Despite what you may have heard, additives such as aspirin are not effective in keeping your tree fresh throughout the holiday season, says Hank Stelzer, University of Missouri Extension state forestry specialist.
“Do not use additives in the water, including floral preservatives, molasses, sugar, bleach, soft drinks, aspirin, honey or other concoctions,” Stelzer said.
Such additives may reduce the amount of water available to the tree. Adding water-holding gels to the stand is similarly ineffective.
The best way to extend the freshness of your tree is to check the stand daily to make sure that the water level does not go below the base of tree. Stands should provide one quart of water for each inch of stem diameter.
Here are some other tips for selecting and caring for your tree:
First, get the right size tree. “Trees in the field look small when the sky is the ceiling,” Stelzer said. “So measure the ceiling height in the room where the tree will stand. Also measure the width of the room. Most trees are trimmed to an 80 percent taper. A tree that is 10 feet tall will be eight feet wide.”
Ask sellers when they obtained the trees. Were they shipped in some time ago or brought in fresh during the season? Do a freshness test: Green needles on a fresh fir or spruce trees break crisply when bent sharply with the fingers, much like a fresh carrot. Needles on fresh pines do not break unless they are very dry.
Make sure that the stem is long enough to fit into your tree stand. Once home, place the tree in water as soon as possible. Put it in a bucket full of water if you’re not ready to put it in the tree stand.
Make a fresh cut at the bottom of the stem to remove a quarter- to one-inch-thick disk of wood before placing in the stand. Make sure the cut is perpendicular to the stem axis. Avoid whittling sides of the trunk to fit the stand.
The outer layers of wood are the most efficient in taking up water and should not be removed.
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