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O Tannenbaum: Christmas Trees are Family

by: David Nickelson, Director of Research

With Thanksgiving in the rear-view mirror, people will turn their attention to the upcoming Christmas holiday. For many this includes shopping for gifts, travel to spend time with family and putting up a Christmas tree. While most families put up an artificial Christmas tree, an estimated 27 million real trees are still cut and sold each year in the US.

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I had the unique fortune to grow up on a Christmas tree farm that remains in the family today. Nickelson’s Tree Farm. It is a medium sized family operation started by my grandfather over 50 years ago.

One of the most common questions I get from people this time of year is to ask about ways to make their tree last longer. This desire to prevent the tree from drying out has spawned a number of urban-legend type concoctions that include all manner of beverages to common household products like baking soda and dish soap.

The patent world has even attempted to get in on the action with a European patent application, EP0962133A1, promising to increase the keep-ability of trees using a least one C6-ring including “...a benzene derivative, such as anisole and/or benzoic acid or a derivative thereof, in particular salicylic acid or an ester thereof.”

Frankly all of these mixture are nothing more than snake oil. If you want your tree to remain green as long as possible it needs nothing more than water.

Prior to putting up your tree make a fresh cut in the base of at least a half inch and fill the stand with water.

The most important aspect of keeping your tree fresh is to keep the stand filled with water. If the water level in the stand is allowed to fall below the base of the tree, the trunk will seal over and no longer absorb the water you give it. Other tips such as keeping the tree away from a hot radiator or forced air heating duct matter as well, but the best thing you can do to keep your tree as lush as possible for as long as possible is to make sure the base of the trunk never has a chance to dry out.

Do you have a favorite type of Christmas tree? Let us know in the comments. I'm partial to Fraser fir myself.

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