Pumpkin Hill Farm

Christmas Tree Care Tips

Selection | Care | Safety | Recycle

Spruce up your holiday with a fresh native tree from one of the over 100 Christmas tree farms in Massachusetts! The refreshing scent of a local tree will fill the house with an unmatched fragrance and will hold its needles until the last festive day is over.

This year over 35 million American families will bring a natural Christmas tree into their homes to help create a warm, friendly setting for their Christmas celebration. The tradition endures year after year and legends tell of the decorated tree used in winter celebrations long before there was a Christmas. Egyptians brought green palm branches into their homes in late December as a symbol of growing things. In the Middle Ages, the feast of Adam and Eve was held on December 24th; a fir tree hung with red apples called the Paradise tree was its symbol. It is generally agreed, however, that the use of an evergreen tree as part of the Christian Christmas started 400 years ago in Germany and spread to most of the northern Europe by the 19th Century.

Usually Christmas trees begin life in a nursery where superior seed is planted and grown to two-year-old seedlings. The seedlings are taken from the nursery beds and replanted in Christmas tree plantations. While growing, Christmas trees provide many environmental benefits. They replenish the Earth's oxygen supply, serve as wildlife habitat, increase soil stability and provide a valuable and aesthetically pleasing improvement to the land. Each year the young trees are shaped or pruned. The average growing time is 7 years for a tree to grow into a well-shaped 6-8 foot tree depending on several factors including soil and weather conditions.

The "choose and cut farm" has helped to renew the tradition of the entire family selecting and cutting the Christmas tree. The whole family can have great fun in the process of choosing a tree. The preferred species of tree is often handed down, generation to generation. A few simple procedures can make the selection and care of a fresh, natural Christmas tree more fun and the best value for your money.



Freshness is most important when selecting your tree. The needles should be resilient. Take hold of a branch and pull your hand toward yourself allowing the branch to slip through your fingers. Needles should adhere to the branch and not fall off in your hand.

Lift the tree a couple of inches off the ground, then bring it down abruptly on the stump end. Outside green needles should not fall off in substantial numbers. But remember, inside needles turn brown and shed naturally every year.

The tree should have a fragrance and good green color. A fresh tree will retain its moisture content and thereby keep its fragrance and needles if kept in a stand that has a good water holding capacity.


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Care For Your Real Christmas Tree

When you bring the tree home, cut one quarter inch off the base of the trunk. Keep the tree outdoors, standing in a container of water, protected from the wind and sun until you're ready to decorate. This will help the tree retain its moisture.

Place your tree in a stand and fill it with fresh water. If you allow the water level to drop below the fresh cut, a new seal will form over the stem.

Display your tree in a cool place but out of a draft. Fireplaces, radiatiors, television sets and other heat sources can prematurely dry your tree.

Remember: trees are very thirsty. They may drink between 2 pints to a gallon of water a day. Use a water-bearing stand with a capacity of a gallon or more. Check the stand daily and supply fresh water as needed.


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Holiday Safety

Be sure that the light cords and connections you use on your tree or in other holiday decorating are in good working order before hanging them. Never use lighted candles on your tree. Unplug lights when retiring at night or leaving your home.


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Uses After the Holiday Season

Place your tree in the garden or backyard for use as a bird feeder; orange slices, bread and suet will attract birds and brighten up the winter landscape.

A Christmas tree is biodegradable, its branches may be removed and used as mulch in the garden. The trunk can be chopped for mulch.

Fir foliage can be stripped from the branches and snipped into small pieces for stuffing into aromatic fir needle pillows.

In many parts of the country, people celebrate Christmas with a living tree. The roots are kept in a "ball" of earth. The ball can be wrapped in burlap or set into a biodegradable container or pot. The tree may be added to the landscape after the holidays. To use a living Christmas tree successfully, please observe the following tips:

The tree should be stored in an unheated, sheltered area such a garage or porch, out of the wind and sun. Do not expose the tree to freezing temperatures at any time.

The tree will need adequate water. The root ball or soil should be kept slightly damp but not flooded. Wrap the root ball of a balled tree in plastic or place in a tub while it is in the house.

If the ground is unfrozen, the tree may be replanted. The spot to be dug may be mulched to prevent freezing. Plant as soon as possible.

Do not remove the burlap and strapping when planting. This keeps the root ball solid and secure. Do not attempt to remove soil from the root system. Earth removed from the original hole should backfilled around the root ball. Mulch heavily over the top of the planted root ball to prevent it from freezing. Water only as needed; a flooded tree may die.

Stake the tree to prevent wind tipping or damage during the first growing season.

The enduring tree symbol remains a firmly established part of our holiday customs, engaging not only our senses of sight, touch, and smell but also our sense of family, spirit and tradition. To complete the spirit and tradition of a "Massachusetts Holiday" look for holiday treats produced right here in Massachusetts. Many Christmas tree farms have Christmas shops that feature wreaths and other seasonal decorations. Add bursts of color and fragrance to your home with seasonal plants and flowers such as the traditional poinsettia, cyclamen, amaryllis, and unique Christmas cactus.



From the Massachusetts Cristmas Tree Association