Taking Care of Your Holiday Tree

Plan on celebrating with a holiday tree this year? The Co-op is once again offering sustainably harvested balsam firs grown right here in Minnesota. These trees are harvested through “stump culture,” an age-old method of harvesting that saves money on seedlings and reduces the time between harvests.

Instead of cutting the tree close to the ground, farmers cut the tree above several tiers of branches. This keeps the stump alive, and the next year, it puts out lots of sprouts. These sprouts will eventually grow into more trees—allowing a single tree to produce continuously for many years. Stump culture helps farmers better manage their forests, reduce erosion by leaving roots intact, and bring customers like you affordable holiday trees due to decreased overhead costs.

We spoke with Sara Nett, owner of St. Peter’s own Sweet Alice Floral Shop, about how to keep your tree looking fresh this season.

Keeping Your Tree Healthy

“First, you should re-cut the trunk when you get it home,” says Nett. “You’ll want to take off 2 to 3 inches at a minimum to ensure the vascular system is clean and the tree is able to drink.” Trees will drink heavily when you first bring them in—it takes a lot of water to rehydrate a cut tree. Keep your tree in at least 2” water at all times throughout the season. You’ll need to check it every single day!

Next, allow at least 24 hours for the tree to drink and the limbs to drop before you start your decorating. “Using a commercial tree food will lessen needle drop and keep your tree looking beautiful longer,” says Nett. “And using a commercial spray made of pine resin (like WiltStop) can also help seal the needles and prevent moisture loss.” Just be careful—sprays are sticky and hard to clean up if you don’t protect your furniture, walls and floors. Another tip: “Allow your tree to come to room temperature before spraying,” she says.

Keeping Your Home Safe

When thinking about placement, it’s important to keep your tree away from heat vents and fireplaces. Heat will dry your tree out, shortening its life and luster. “A dry tree is a fire hazard,” says Nett. “You also want to remove the tree from your house before it dries out at the end of the season. This prevents it from becoming a fire hazard, and prevents you from having to sweep or vacuum up all of those pesky loose needles.”

If you have small children or animals in the house, securing your holiday tree to a structurally sound wall will help prevent tipping and possible injury. Don’t ever let your pets climb the Christmas tree! “Also, don’t let your kids climb the Christmas tree. That probably goes without saying, but you never know,” she adds.

Stop by the St. Peter Food Co-op today and pick up your very own sustainably-harvested balsam fir for the holidays!

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