Category: Gardening

Water your Christmas tree

Want to make your indoor Christmas tree hold onto its needles as long as possible? Water is the key. Water your Christmas tree as soon as you get it home, when you place it in a stand, and daily thereafter.

Christmas tree lot at Staehly Tree Farm, East Haddam, CT.

Christmas tree lot at Staehly Tree Farm inEast Haddam, CT.

Here’s how to care for and water your Christmas tree to make it last through the holidays:

  • Whether cut fresh or purchased pre-cut, trees need water daily – as much as a quart for every inch of trunk diameter. Do the math: a tree with a 3″ diameter trunk can drink up 3 quarts of water daily; one 4″ needs 4 quarts, and so forth.
  • Fresh cut trees should be placed in a bucket of water as soon as they come home. Pre-cut trees need an additional step – cutting about 1″ from the trunk parallel to the ground when upright – to allow the tree to take up water.
  • Avoid bruising the cut end and keep it completely submerged in water until ready to bring indoors.
  • Prior to bringing indoors, cut the trunk end again. Secure the tree in a sturdy stand that holds at least a gallon of water.
  • Once secured in the stand, fill the reservoir with water.
  • Check water levels daily, making sure the cut end is always submerged in water. I water our tree every morning while the coffee brews.

Why be so concerned about keeping the cut end submerged? If permitted to dry, the cut end will form a resin seal that prevents further water uptake. No water equals dry needles – a true hassle and serious fire risk.

A well watered tree is more likely to hold its needles through the holidays.

A well-watered tree is more likely to hold its needles through the holidays.

We have used the above methods for decades, with great success. Other tips to lead to a safer, better hydrated Christmas tree include:

  • cutting one fresh if possible,
  • holding off till mid-December to bring the tree indoors,
  • using low-heat producing lights,
  • keeping the tree from heating sources and vents,
  • and taking it down shortly after the holidays.

You can read more tips on how to treat and water your Christmas tree from the Connecticut Christmas Tree Growers Association, but these basic steps will help keep your tree fresh.

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Managing Invasive Japanese stilt grass

Japanese stilt grass will always require regular management to prevent it from overtaking our woodlands, lawn, and gardens. We’ve found specific routines help keep this highly invasive grass well controlled.

Young Japanese stilt grass

Japanese stilt grass.

These simple steps allowed us to reverse a massive stilt grass invasion in our Connecticut (zone 6) landscape:

  1. Monitor all garden beds, woodlands, under trees and shrubs frequented by birds from early summer through September for stilt-grass.
  2. Hand-pull all.
  3. Young plants that you pull – those that have not started to seed – can be left in place to dry and die.
  4. Any stilt grass that has begun to develop seed heads – anytime between mid-August to mid-September – must be disposed of in the trash. Do not add stilt grass or any invasive plant to your compost pile.
  5. Mulch areas where stilt grass has been found with shredded leaves or shredded hardwood to minimize regrowth from seeds in the soil.
Japanese stilt grass

Japanese stilt grass

Getting a large invasion of Japanese stilt grass under control was a multi-year effort using different techniques outlined in Tend to Japanese Stilt Grass NOW! back in 2013. Read this post for lots of info on this highly invasive plant.

The lawn area torched then had a wonderful regrowth of perennial lawn grasses. While small sections of stilt grass have regrown each year from seeds previously deposited in the soil, we’ve controlled these with mowing and hand-pulling.

Japanese stilt grass loves to grow along woodland edges. We found that maintaining a good six-inch layer of fallen leaves prevents most stilt grass from sprouting. The occasional stilt grass plant that does sprout is easily controlled by hand-pulling.

Vigilant trolling for mature Japanese stilt grass plants in September – when they are in seed – is most critical. Do not let stilt grass seeds mature. Each seed head can deposit up to 100 seeds in the soil. Each seed can be viable there for seven years.

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