Christmas Tree Care Myths Debunked

Should you cut the trunk of the Christmas tree diagonally? Does aspirin really help keep a Christmas tree hydrated? And what’s more eco-friendly, an artificial tree or a real one?

There’s no shortage of Christmas tree care tips out there. And while some are great, many have been passed around for so long that folks take them to be true. But are they?

Read on as we debunk some popular Christmas tree care myths.

Use baby diapers to keep your tree hydrated. Baby diapers are designed to soak up liquids and prevent leaks. While effective at keeping baby’s skin dry, the hydrogels found in diapers do not release moisture back out for use by a Christmas tree. Avoid positioning your tree near a heat source, check the water level regularly, and consider adding a plant nutrient to keep your tree hydrated.

Cut the tree trunk diagonally. It may sound logical to cut the trunk diagonally to expose more of it for greater water absorption. However, as the water evaporates, the upper section of the trunk eventually won’t be in the water. What’s more, a diagonal cut will make it difficult to position the tree evenly in the stand. Go for a straight perpendicular cut of at least ¼ of the trunk within 12 houses or less of setting it up.

Christmas trees fill up landfills. Many communities offer Christmas tree recycling programs in which trees are used to make mulch, soil erosion barriers, and other eco-friendly products. If you have a woodchipper, you can make your own mulch. Or simply leave the tree in your back yard to provide shelter or food for birds as it decomposes over time.

Artificial trees are more environmentally friendly. Some argue that artificial trees are better because they can be reused year after year. However, most are made with petroleum, and typically last around 8 years, after which point they’ll end up in a landfill where they won’t decompose as easily or quickly as a real tree will.

Add aspirin to the water to keep the tree healthy. Aspirin, sugar, pennies, alcohol, and even bleach have been rumored to help a tree stay healthy and hydrated. However, according to the National Christmas Tree Association,  all you need is plenty of fresh water and maybe a plant nutrient. Anything else can possibly do more harm than good.

Remove the bark from the trunk to help with water absorption. Some claim that taking off the bark from the bottom of the trunk will expose more of the tree’s cambium layer and allow it to absorb more water. But be careful as you may end up cutting off too much and damage the xylem (the tissue responsible for moving water through the tree) or you won’t cut deep enough to reach the xylem, so no water will be absorbed.

Real Christmas trees often cause fires. While it isn’t impossible for a real tree to catch fire, it’s quite rare. To reduce risk, turn off the tree’s lights when you’re not home or going to bed. Also, position your Christmas tree away from heat sources and keep the tree well hydrated.

Many people have allergies to live Christmas trees. While it’s possible that some may be allergic to live trees, it’s not very common. What you may experience are symptoms due to the pollen, dust, or mold that lands on a live tree before it’s cut down. To prevent this, shake the tree well before bringing it indoors.

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