Some years ago the Forestry Commission's scientists discovered that the secret of preventing your Christmas tree from loosing its needles was to encourage your tree to drink water whilst in your house at Christmas time. They proved that it is possible for cut Christmas trees WITH NO ROOTS to drink water, by capillary action, through their bark - in the same way that cut flowers drink water in a vase.
1. Ensure that you buy a fresh tree.
This is best ensured by going direct to the grower - your local Christmas tree farm. Click here for a list of members of the British Christmas Tree Growers Association. Once there, check that the tree is fresh by gently running your fingers down the length of one of the lower branches. The needles should stay fast.
2. Once home, if you are not going to take the tree into your house immediately, place the tree in a cool, dry place out of the wind.
If possible, place the tree in a bucket of water, so that the tree can drink water. It is also a good idea to place the tree out of view, as Christmas trees have a tendency to be stolen at Christmas Time - ask any Christmas Tree Farmer!
3. Just before you take the Christmas tree in the house, saw off the bottom 1" (3cm) of the trunk.
This creates a fresh cut and opens up the pores in the bark, which otherwise block up with sap within a few hours of being cut. The tree is then able to drink water through these pores via capillary action.
4. Try not to expose your tree to sudden changes in temperature.
So far, there is limited scientific evidence to support this, but on a very cold day/night, many gardeners are careful not to bring a plant from the outdoors straight into a very warm room.
5. Once inside the house, try and position your Christmas tree away from any heat sources such as radiators.
Heat will dry out your tree faster, so the further from its source the better.
6. Place your tree in plain water - not soil or sand which would block the pores in the bark.
This is best achieved by using a specially designed Christmas tree stand - either a Hydro or a Cinco stand. Many precious hours can be wasted trying to make a Christmas Tree stand up straight in an ordinary bucket, using just bricks or stones!
7. Keep the Christmas tree stand topped up with water. Your Christmas tree may drink 2-3 pints (1-2 litres) of water per day, depending on its size and your central heating settings.
This is very important as once the water level drops below the tree's trunk, sap will re-seal the bark within a few hours, preventing the tree from drinking any further water - even if you then re-fill the Christmas tree stand. - You won't want to have to saw off the bottom inch of the trunk again! An empty bottle of wine is ideal for this task - and a good way of remembering to give your tree a Christmas drink!