Grand County arborist offers tips for keeping live Christmas trees healthy

Boy Scouts Troop 187 sells Christmas trees in the parking lot near the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge in early December 2022.
Elaine Collins/Courtesy photo

GRAND COUNTY — Celebrating Christmas with a live evergreen tree in the home dates back to a German tradition in the 16th Century; even before this, ancient Romans decorated evergreen trees during celebrations.

Although artificial trees are widely available in today’s times, real trees remain a popular tradition, especially in Colorado. Whether venturing into the woods to cut down their own tree, or selecting the best one from a Christmas tree farm, there’s something satisfying about bringing an evergreen home to adorn it with ornaments. But once the tree trimming is finished, there is now a need to care for the live tree. Korey Lofy, owner of the Grand County Arborist, a tree care service in Granby, gave Sky-Hi News readers some tips on keeping their tannenbaum healthy and green:

  • Choosing the right tree: Look for a full canopy with lots of lateral branches and green needles.
  • Make sure tree is fresh cut: Natural sap flow will attempt to close over any previous cut within about an hour of being cut.  Remove the bottom inch of the tree before putting it into water. 
  • Keep tree out of sun and wind: Evergreen trees are always in a constant state of transpiration. This is where the tree releases oxygen and some water vapor. This phenomenon is increased when needles are exposed to the sun and wind. Indoors, keep the tree away from sunny windows and heat ducts.
  • Trees need water: Most tree stands will hold about 1 gallon of water, and trees will use about 2-5 quarts of water daily (depending on species, location, and time since it was harvested). A taller Christmas tree can use up to a gallon of water a day.
  • Use anti-transpirant sprays: Wilt Stop, Wilt Pruf and Transfilm all keep trees green by helping to maintain moisture. These products work by leaving a waxy coating over the needles, essentially covering the stomata and guard cells that are responsible for allowing the plant to release water and oxygen. 

“There are a number of other wive’s tales and home remedies that claim to extend the lives of your natural Christmas trees; however, many of them are not supported by science,” Lofy wrote in an email. “If people use the above checklist, Tannenbaum should stay green and healthy into the New Year!”

Lofy is also an International Society of Arboriculture certified arborist.

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