How to Care for a Flocked Tree

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When you're aiming for "winter wonderland" with your holiday decor, a green Christmas tree just won't do. A flocked Christmas tree is sprayed or sprinkled with some kind of material that makes it look dusted by snow. It's a magical effect, especially when twinkly lights illuminate the artificial snow. And flocked artificial Christmas trees are just as easy to care for as green artificial trees.

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But there's no denying that using a flocked, real Christmas tree is a little more challenging than using a regular fresh cut tree. The flocking spray or flocking powder used to achieve the fake snow effect can be a little messy. And the primary downside of decorating this way is that disposing of flocked trees isn't as simple as disposing of real trees.

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That said, once you've decided to decorate with a flocked Christmas tree, you're definitely on your way to a white Christmas. Enjoy your Christmas decor safely with these tips for flocked tree care.

Decorating a flocked tree

There are two ways to get a real, flocked tree. One is to bring home a regular tree and flock it yourself; see below for DIY flocking tips. Alternately, Christmas tree farms and garden centers sometimes sell pre-flocked trees.

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In either case, once the tree is set up in your living room, the standard Christmas tree decorating rules apply. It's a good idea to have a drop cloth under the tree while you're decorating to catch any flocking material and needles that fall. Try to handle the branches as little as possible while hanging ornaments. And make sure the tree is at least a few feet away from radiators, fireplaces and candles. Some flocking materials are fire retardant, but flocked trees can still catch fire if they're exposed to these kinds of heat sources.

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Do you know how to flock a Christmas tree?

Flocking a Christmas tree can be a fun way to DIY your decor. There are three common tree flocking methods that people use at home. You'll find tutorials online to walk you through them all.

  • The old-fashioned flocking process is to mix soap flakes or grated bar soap with water to create a foamy substance, which is then painted onto the branches to create the look of clumpy snow. Some DIY flocking recipes also use things like white glue or cornstarch.
  • Using flocking powder is the best way to achieve an all-over "dusting of snow" effect. SnoFlock and other flocking powders are activated by water, so all you have to do is mist the tree with a spray bottle and shake a sifter of powder over the branches.
  • Using flocking spray is the fastest method, and potentially the messiest. It's important to work in a well-ventilated area or even outdoors.

Caring for a flocked tree

There are two core concerns to keep in mind while a flocked Christmas tree is set up in your home. The first is water. Maybe you've heard that flocking seals in moisture, slowing down the drying process and extending your tree's lifespan, and therefore a flocked tree doesn't need much or any water.

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In reality, flocked real trees should always be given a steady supply of water. The branches may not be fully sealed by flocking spray so trees will still lose water through their needles. A tree that's been decorated with soap flakes or a light dusting of flocking powder also won't retain moisture like a heavily-sprayed tree will. Allowing the tree to dry out increases its fire hazard risk. So just like you would with any real tree, check the water reservoir in your tree stand every day and add more when the water level gets low.

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The other consideration is the safety of any kids and pets that live in your home or might visit over the holiday season. Different tree flocking materials are made of different ingredients, so it's hard to say how dangerous it would be for a pet or curious toddler to eat the "snow" off your tree—but obviously that's not something you want to experiment with. Consider creating a barrier around the tree if you're concerned.

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Disposing of a flocked tree

When the holiday season is over, many municipalities will collect residents' real Christmas trees for disposal. Real trees are organic and can be turned into mulch or compost or be used in other environmentally sustainable ways.

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But the chemicals in flocking powders and flocking sprays would contaminate the recycled trees, so your municipality might not take your tree, even if you decorated it only with soap flakes and water. Collection workers have no way to know what materials were used to create the artificial snow on a real tree. There's no harm in checking with with the town or city department in charge of waste disposal, however.

If waste management workers won't take away your flocked tree, you'll have to find a way to get it to the landfill. That might require hiring a service to take it away for you, or sawing the tree into smaller pieces that you can take to the landfill yourself. (Full disclosure: the work of getting rid of your real tree this year might turn you into a fake Christmas tree convert next year!)

As long as you're prepared for a little extra mess and the disposal challenges, decorating with a flocked tree can be a festive way to bring some snow indoors this holiday season—even if you're celebrating Christmas in the desert!

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