Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Caitlin Youngquist
Extension Educator 

Christmas tree care and safety


December 23, 2015

‘Tis the season to talk about taking care of our live Christmas trees, unless you are like one of my colleagues who told me recently “I just wish I could keep a fake tree already decorated in the closet so all I have to do is pull it out and it’s ready to go!”

If you enjoy having a real tree, there are a few things you can do to keep your tree in good shape throughout the season. For more information, including some short videos, visit my blog:

UW Extension Horticulture Specialist Karen Panter gives these tips on Christmas tree care:

1. When selecting a pre-cut tree make sure it is fresh. Avoid any trees that have brittle or brown needles, and make sure that the cut end of the tree is still sticky and moist with sap.

2. Cut off 1 to 2 inches of the trunk when you get home and set it in a bucket with cold water. Keep the tree in a cool place for a few days, this will encourage the tree to take up the water. Refill the water as necessary. A 6-foot tree can absorb a half gallon of water a day.

3. When you bring the tree inside, place it in a tree stand with at least 1-quart capacity (or keep in in the bucket and use some rocks around the trunk to keep it steady). Check it every day and keep the water full!

4. If your tree dries out and starts to lose needles, the trunk should be re-cut to encourage it to start taking up water again. This can be difficult but it is the only way to keep your tree from shedding needles. Remember, keep the water full.

For those of you who have a live tree and plan to keep it to plant in the spring, it is important to keep your tree from “waking up” and breaking dormancy. This means that you really should only keep it inside for five days before storing it in a cold, protected area until the weather warms up enough for planting. Mulch around the base of the tree to protect the rootball from freezing, and water several times throughout the winter until spring arrives.

The Washakie Conservation District organizes a Christmas tree recycling event in January, so keep an eye on the newspaper for details. This is a great way to give your tree a second life as mulch, instead of just turning it into garbage.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, Christmas trees are involved in 400 fires a year and short-circuiting tree lights are the biggest culprit. To reduce your risk of a devastating fire, always keep your tree well-watered! A dry tree is more likely to catch on fire than a green one. Set up your tree well away from fireplaces, heaters, vents, and TVs. When using lights, use one extension cord per outlet, and limit yourself to three strings of lights per extension cord. Make sure your lights are in good shape, and there are no damaged cords or exposed wires. And always turn off your Christmas tree lights when you go to bed or leave the house! For more information about fire safety during the holidays, call or stop by the fire department to pick up a brochure.


WESTI is scheduled for Feb. 19-20 this year at the Worland Community Center. I hope you can join us! For those of you who need to update your private pesticide applicator license, we will hold a class on Feb. 18 from 1-4 p.m. at the Extension Office. Pre-registration is required, please call 347-3431.

Topics at WESTI this year will include herbicide resistance, crop pest and disease updates, management transition planning, regulatory updates for the ag industry, technology tools, calculating custom field work rates, economic and business planning tools, communicating about GMOs, soil management, seed saving, and more. Friday’s topics will focus on production agriculture, while Saturday will be more of interest to small acreage landowners and gardeners.

Mark your calendars!


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