Watering Xmas Trees

 Those gorgeous poinsettias you buy for Christmas often come with a brightly colored foil paper wrapped around the pot. The pot will have a drainage hole, but if you don’t punch a hole in the bottom of the foil, water will accumulate and drown out the plant. Considering that one almost needs to take out a second mortgage to buy a Christmas tree these days, yardeners should do everything they can to keep that expensive decoration looking terrific for as long as possible. Yet many of us don’t understand how to keep a tree watered so that needles don’t begin falling within a week . Watering Cut Christmas Trees The critical step in setting up a cut tree is to first saw about a half an inch slice off the bottom of the trunk before setting the tree in its holder. The tree cannot absorb water in the holder if that slice was not taken first. A common mistake is to cut the slice, set up the tree, put water in the holder and then go for a day or two before checking to see if there is still water in the tree’s holder. A tree that has been cut for a few weeks is going to suck in over two gallons of water in the first few hours after cutting the slice and mounting the tree. That is one reason to have a tree stand that will hold at least a gallon of water. On the first day of setting up the tree, check the water level every hour or two. Once the tree quenches that initial thirst, it will use several quarts of water each day that it is in the house. If you did not cut the slice off the bottom of the trunk or if you have left the tree stand get dry for more than a day, that tree cannot absorb water . No one wants to take a decorated tree out of the stand in order to cut another slice. However, there is an easy way to solve this problem. On the Internet you can buy a watering device that gives the tree water using an intravenous type system ($8 at www.safechristmas.com). After you drill a hole into the base of the tree, a special nipple is inserted into the hole and then attached to a flexible hose that is connected to a jug of water. Your tree can now drink again. Watering A Live Christmas Tree Many environmentally concerned yardeners prefer to buy live Christmas trees that have a balled and burlaped root system, ready to be planted outside after the holiday season. Unfortunately a large percentage of those trees will die before spring, mostly because they spent too much time indoors and were not watered sufficiently. A live tree should not be in the house for more than ten days, and seven days is safer. There is no questions that finding a satisfactory way to water a live tree with its roots all wrapped up in a ball is a real challenge. The I-V gadget described above might work well, and there is another product that I know will work because I have used it. It is called “Plant Sitter” and is an automatic water sensing device for houseplants made by Cobra (www.amazon.com, $12.95). You stick the sensor into the soil of the root ball and stick the attached tube into a container of water and it will provide a continuous supply of water. You simply keep the container filled with water and your live tree will be properly watered during its stay indoors. Additional Tricks There are two more steps to making sure your Christmas tree lasts as long as possible. Cut flowers are kept longer when you add a citrus powder to the water; these packets of extender are available in flower shops. You get the same effect if you add a half a can of 7Up or Sprite (not the diet versions) each time you add water to the tree holder. Most garden centers and home centers sell an anti-transpirant product such as WiltPruf. This material is sprayed on evergreen shrubs such as azaleas or rhododendrons to leave a thin wax-like coating over the surface of the leaves which slows down the transpiration of water over the winter months. The same benefit is accrued when you spray your Christmas tree with an anti-transpirant product. Using both these tricks will add a week or more to the time it takes for the needles to begin falling off the tree.

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