I can understand that there will be a whole generation of people who haven't grown up with real Christmas trees, so it may not be obvious as to what you need to do to keep that sucker alive. No worries, my family always had a real tree until I moved out for University, so I got you covered! (One year we even marched out in the forest and chopped down a random tree on Crown land...lol).
It's actually pretty darn easy to care for a real tree and the bonus is that
a) you're contributing to putting oxygen back in the atmosphere and supporting an industry that has a perpetual supply of carbon sucking trees
b) you're decreasing your VOC index inside relative to a plastic, off gassing tree
c) your tree is compostable
d) trees smell DELICIOUS
In Choosing a Tree:
- If possible, find a local organization that sources locally grown, organic trees. None of this shipped from away, or sprayed with pesticides crap. You're trying to LOWER your VOC index, not add to it. The Ecology Action Centre sells organic trees, and usually there are a couple of small tree farms (even my tiny village of 500 people had a local dude who grew trees on a lot). You could call and check out their growing habits.
- This is a REAL tree, just like flowers, they have an expiration date. The earlier you get the tree, the more likely it will turn brown. Two weeks really is the max, I feel like 10 days is best. We're picking our tree up December 15th. It just makes the time before Yulemas that much more exciting and special!
- Choose a tree with fluffy, poofy needles. No really, your ornaments will hang better, the tree will look fuller than with those trees with flat needles.
- Look for vibrancy of green, that means health.
- Don't be afraid to pick it up and fluff it out a bit- need to check for holes or weird lumpy formations!
- Arrive equipped with bungee cords (cheap at Canadian Tire) and prepared to clean out your car. If I can fit this tree in my Yaris hatchback, then size of car should never be a deterrent.
(Last year's organic tree. We named him "Bob"... he was a little lumpy....)
Real Tree Care:
1. If possible, re-cut the bottom of the trunk upon arrival at home. This allows the tree to have a new and fresh access point to suck in all that handy water. My dad used to take it in the basement and use a hacksaw... you know, those small saw thingys. Sadly, since Andrew and I live in an apartment, this step is not exactly possible. And we don't have a saw.
2. Purchase a good tree stand. We bought ours from Canadian Tire. It's metal, which means it will last longer and be more likely to support the tree's weight. It's also important to actually read the instructions on how to put the trunk in...
3. Once the tree is in the stand, be prepared to trim parts off. We trimmed the top last year cuz there was a weird alfalfa thing going on. That happens. Also be prepared to see random lumps or holes in your "perfect" tree... sometimes they hide on you in the lot and are revealed under the harsh lights of the living room. I just chalk it up to "My tree has character" :)
4. Fill the stand with water (to the specifications of the stand) and a cup of sugar. No really, the sugar is supposed to help.
5. Water the tree EVERY day.
6. Be prepared to have to vacuum or sweep up needles as the season goes along.
7. When taking the tree down, plastic recycling bags might help minimize needle mess, but recognize that needle mess is going to be a reality. You'll just have to deal with it as a necessary evil to have the beauty of a Real Tree.
8. Don't ever leave the lights unattended (or light candles around the tree). They are fire hazards for real yo.
9. Cat Yogi Peeps- have your water spray bottle out and ready. Cats LOVE mauling trees.
There you have it! Real Yulemas Tree Essentials!