How to Choose and Maintain a Fresh Christmas Tree

how to make your christmas tree last longer

We’re going to arm you with enough information to select and maintain a Christmas tree that will dazzle throughout the holiday season. The process starts by understanding your space, continues at the lot, involves keeping the tree fresh at home and ends with knowing your recycling options.

If you’d like to avoid the tree lot altogether, there’s a new way in San Diego to do that.


Before You Head to the Tree Lot


Measure your space to make sure the tree you choose isn’t too tall or too wide. Also, consider the type of decorations you will use. Is there a 12″ star you like to place on top of it? Add this height into the measurements.  Do you typically hang heavy ornaments? If yes, you’ll need a tree with a lot of sturdy branches that won’t droop from the weight.

Make sure to protect the flooring underneath the tree just in case the stand leaks water that could get trapped underneath its weight.

If you have a preferred tree lot, call to ask which day of the week they receive deliveries. Trees that are recently delivered are usually the most fresh.


Test the Tree for Freshness


There are several simple things you can do at the tree lot to make sure that you are choosing the freshest Christmas tree.

Grab a tree branch 6″  or more away from the tip. Close your hand around the branch and pull toward the tip to see how fresh the needles are. If the needles stay more or less in place, the tree is fresh. If quite a few fall off, the tree is dry.

You can also try to bend the branches to see how pliable they are. If they snap, they’re dry.

Foliage should be a consistent green. If it’s discolored with excessive needles dropping, it’s dry. The tree also shouldn’t smell funny.

When in doubt, go to another tree lot or wait for a new delivery.


Southern California’s Favorite Christmas Trees


Armstrong Garden Centers shared which Christmas trees are most popular with Southern Californians. Here is what they said.

Fir Trees

Fraser Fir Christmas Trees –

Grown on a family farm in the mountains of North Carolina, the Fraser Fir Christmas trees are carefully carried – not dragged – out of the forest to preserve their fresh quality and pyramid shape. Then they are gently placed in refrigerated trucks. With a – lovely scent and deep, rich green needles that are approximately 1Ž2 inch to 1-inch long, these evergreens are a popular choice.

Noble Fir Christmas Trees –

These evergreens are grown in the snowy mountains of Washington, where the trees are carefully carried out of the forest and placed on cold trucks before making their journey down the coast. Noble Fir Christmas trees have 1-inch, bluish-green needles that lie along flat branches. Their fragrant, sturdy branches can support the weight of heavier ornaments.

fir Christmas trees

Nordmann Fir Christmas Trees – 

The Nordmann Fir Christmas tree has been a favorite in Europe for many years, and is the most commonly grown Christmas tree in Germany and Norway. These conifers have symmetrically arranged strong branches with short, dark, shiny green needles that are soft and lay flat.

Silvertip Fir Christmas Trees (Armstrong Garden Centers Exclusive) – 

Grown in California in elevations of over 8,000 feet, Silvertip Fir Christmas trees are extremely rare. With a light fragrance, silver and blue tips at the end of the branches and large, wide spacing between the limbs, these evergreens display a modern, clean style.

Snow Flocked Christmas Trees – 

There’s no need to only dream of a white Christmas! True to tradition, Armstrong Garden Centers offers quality tree-flocking service for any Christmas tree variety, providing realistic, snow-covered branches that are easy to maintain. The flocking actually insulates tree branches with flame retardant material, resulting in little to no needle-shed and no watering!


Cut Your Own Tree in San Diego


If you have the means to get your tree home, there are four farms in San Diego that will allow you to choose and cut down your own Christmas tree. Saws are provided and there are typically other fun activities on offer for the kids. Not to mention, these cut-your-own trees are typically less expensive than ones at the lot. Try Family Christmas Tree farm in El Cajon, Pine Tree Acres in Ramona, Highland Valley Christmas Tree Farm in Ramona or House Evergreen Forrest in Alpine.


Have Your Tree Delivered


Those of us without the ability or know-how to drive a tree home benefit from delivery service. Most lots and nurseries offer delivery within a day or so of selecting a tree. There is usually an added cost.

Or, you can skip the lot entirely. Armstrong Garden Centers has an online Christmas shop and delivery service (within a 10-mile radius from any Armstrong Garden Centers store location). Customers can choose from an assortment of holiday essentials online, including real Christmas trees, florist quality poinsettias, wreaths, garland and more. They’ll deliver it all right to you.


How to Make Your Christmas Tree Last Longer & Keep it Fresh


Whether it’s the little bottle available for purchase at the tree lot or a DIY home remedy, adding something in the water to preserve the tree will help make sure it doesn’t dry out before its time.

You probably have what you need to mix up a quick Christmas tree preservative in your pantry. Per gallon of water, add in a can of regular 7UP and a splash of bleach. Or, per gallon of water add in 2 cups of light corn syrup, 4 teaspoons of bleach and 4 teaspoons of lemon juice.

Please note that experts stated that additives have negligible effects, however, they also mention that it cannot hurt to try. All of the experts do agree that keeping your tree with sufficient water at all times is the most important thing. Never let your tree go without water and dry up as this will allow the trunk of the tree to develop a casing on the bottom and therefore not allow any more water to penetrate the trunk. Make sure someone is in charge of checking the water levels every day to prevent this from occurring.


How to Recycle Your  Christmas Tree


Check with your retailer to see if they offer Christmas tree recycling programs. Some will pick up your tree for an additional cost. Otherwise, if you have a manual container, you may leave your tree out with the regular green waste though trees over 4′ tall must be cut in half. If you have an automated container, the tree must be cut up to fit inside.

Christmas trees are recycled at Miramar Greenery. The City of San Diego has a few drop-off sites including Kate Sessions Park for those who don’t feel like chopping up their tree. Check their website for details. No artificial trees are accepted but flocked real trees are OK. All ornaments and stands should be removed.


Your Turn…


What type of Christmas Tree do you typically choose?


Photos are courtesy of Armstrong Garden Centers.