NMSU branding

New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center

Tips on Christmas tree care from NMSU Mora Research Center experts

With approximately 30 million live Christmas trees sold in the U.S. every year as reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agriculture Statistics Service, it is important to remember these trees need proper care and maintenance both during and after the holidays. The National Christmas Tree Association website and experts from New Mexico State University's Mora Research Center offer input on the topic.

New Mexico State University experts say caring for your Christmas tree is important throughout the holiday season, even after the festivities are over.

Q. How can I make sure my tree maintains its freshness and doesn't dry out?

A. Before putting the tree into a stand, it is necessary to re-cut the base of the tree, and place it into water immediately. Re-cutting is necessary to remove (if present) sap or dirt covering on the base and any air bubbles that may have entered the water transfer system of the tree. If present, these conditions will prevent water from being distributed throughout the tree, resulting in rapid drying.

Q. What preventative measures can I take so my tree doesn't catch on fire?

A. Water the tree and keep it constantly hydrated as it sits in a reservoir type tree stand. The tree should be kept away from any potential combustion sources, and the condition of the light strings should be thoroughly inspected prior to placement on the tree.
The National Christmas Tree Association website recommends the stand should provide one quart of water per inch of stem diameter (the width of the trunk).

Q. What is the proper way to dispose or recycle a Christmas tree after the holidays are over?

A. Check community listings. This service may be performed by the city, county or by a private or community civic organization. Some disposal services charge a fee. Optimally, the tree should be run through a grinding machine to allow for faster breakdown and potential "recycling" by creating mulch. Even if the ground residues go into a landfill, they will take up less space than whole trees.

Q. How do I know when it's time to dispose of the tree?

A. Notices for tree disposal services within the community are a good indication that it's time to take down the tree. If a particular tree is no longer taking water, it is likely time to call the disposal service. A simple test can be performed by rubbing the branches with your hand. If needles are falling off as your hand passes, the time has come to let your tree go.

--Tips provided by professor at NMSU's Mora Research Center John Harrington and senior research assistant Mark Loveall. For more information or frequently asked questions regarding Christmas trees visit the National Christmas Tree Association Web site at www.christmastree.org