- Choose a Christmas tree that has firm needles that don’t fall from branches when handling the tree. Individual needles should bend rather than snap if you pinch them between your fingers. Also, inspect the stump; the cut end of a fresher tree will be moist and may have some sticky sap on it yet.
- When you get the tree home, cut 2 inches off the base of the trunk. Plunge the freshly cut stump into a bucket of water. Trees can absorb 1 gallon of water in the first 24 hours. Check the water level in your tree stand twice a day for the first week. Add water as needed. Each day, trees can drink roughly 1 quart of water for every inch of trunk diameter.
- If your tree dries out, the wound likely healed over and stopped absorbing water. Make a fresh cut on the stump and it can absorb water again.
- When decorating indoors, avoid placing fresh evergreens on wood surfaces. Sap from branches can damage the finish. Instead, place greenery on parchment, colorful felt, or fabric.
- When Christmas is over, recycle your tree yourself: Cut off branches, and use as insulation over perennials. In spring, chip or shred branches to create mulch. Cut the trunk for firewood. Season it this year to burn next winter.
Grow Living Color Indoors
Tuck amaryllis bulbs in pots for blooms in a few weeks. Leave the bulb shoulders protruding above soil; planting too deeply can rot the bulb. Water when soil is dry. Consider inserting a stake at planting time to support tall flower stems and flop-prone leaves.
Display poinsettias away from heat sources or cold drafts. Keep soil consistently moist, but not soggy. Poinsettias that dry out droop dramatically and drop their flowers.
Cyclamen thrive in cool temperatures (50-60 degrees F). Place them in a spot where temps tumble overnight. Display them in a warmer spot during daylight hours — somewhere you can enjoy the pretty blooms. Keep soil consistently moist.