I've kept my Christmas tree fresh for over 3 years and not one needle has fallen off, but that's probably because it's a pre-lit, fake tree that I put back in the box at the end of every holiday season.

But there have been several years I did go out and pick out a real Christmas tree, just like my family did every year growing up in Indiana.

Nothing better than that piney smell of a real Christmas tree. Nothing worse than cleaning up, and stepping on those sharp pine needles that seem to multiply around the house.

What can you do to keep your real Christmas tree fresh and healthy through the entire holiday season?

Instead of just putting water in the Christmas tree stand, I've been given several "tree recipes" over the years and the ingredients in each one have all been pretty similar.

Here's a recipe that was shared with me by a friend who uses this "Christmas Tree Water" for his Balsam Fir Tree:

  • Mix the following in a 5-gallon bucket
  • 8 quarts of water
  • 1/2 cup of bleach
  • 1 cup of light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon of Epson salt

Make sure your tree stand can hold at least a gallon of water and keep it consistently filled so the bottom 2 inches of the tree trunk are always immersed.

You can also use Miracle-Gro to keep the tree fresh. According to their website, adding a capful of "Miracle-Gro For Christmas Trees" for every quart of water.

What's the best environment to keep your Christmas tree fresh?

Here are some other tips to keep your real tree fresh through the entire Christmas season, according to Miracle-Gro:

  • Cut off the bottom 1/2 inch of the trunk if you haven't done so already. This removes any hardened sap to allow for better water uptake. This is a good time to measure the diameter of the trunk (see next step for why that’s important.

  • Add a quart of water to your tree stand for every inch of the trunk’s diameter.

  • Christmas trees prefer cooler temperatures, so turn down heat whenever possible and place your tree closer to a window, away from radiators and fireplaces.

According to the National Christmas Tree Association, there are 25 to 30 million real Christmas trees sold every year in the United States, and close to 350 million trees currently growing at tree farms around the country.

Real Trees are a renewable, recyclable resource. Artificial trees contain non-biodegradable plastics and possible metal toxins such as lead. For every Real Christmas Tree harvested, 1 to 3 seedlings are planted the following spring. -National Christmas Tree Association.

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