Be warned — if you're shopping for a real Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving in order to get a jump on the holiday season, you're sure to find a bad smell permeating your home within a few weeks.
The bad smell in the water of a Christmas tree stand is the result of aging, insufficient water getting into the tree trunk, poor tree display techniques and the tree trunk not being refreshed before putting it into the stand. The bad smell can be cured with a bit of housekeeping, but you can avoid this problem by preparing the tree display before the Christmas lights are strung and the tree skirt is placed.
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Choosing a Live Christmas Tree
A fresh-cut Christmas tree decorated with family-favorite ornaments brings the essence of the holiday season into your home. With just a few tweaks, you can avoid the bad smell many homes suffer when the water level in the tree stand gets too low. An infusion of clean water is the only remedy.
When choosing a fresh tree, run your fingers over the branches. If the needles come off, the tree isn't fresh or hydrated. Keep looking.
If you aren't especially attentive to living plants, landscaping and Christmas trees, Bob Vila recommends choosing a Scotch Pine. It's known for surviving in dry conditions and retains its needles for weeks while being ignored. Just the opposite is the Colorado Blue Spruce. The needles' resin gives off an offensive odor, and it's best not to crush them. The white spruce should also be avoided because of the needles' odor when broken, writes Spray Gadgets.
Choosing the Right Location
Be considerate of your Christmas tree's needs before placing it in a room, and that smelly tree stand can be avoided. While you may visually prefer a spot adjacent to a fireplace, the heat emitted from it will quickly dry out your tree. Other heat sources should also be avoided, such as radiators and heating vents.
Placing a humidifier in an especially dry home and using a spray bottle to freshen up the needles also helps keep the tree perky and fresh. The fresher the tree, the less smell from the water.
Warmer climates also present a challenge when acclimatizing a real Christmas tree. The dry air from the environment or an air conditioner should be combatted with a humidifier in the room and a bowl of water placed near the tree. Rubbing a needle between your fingers easily tells you the condition of the tree's own hydration system, and you should adjust your care routine accordingly.
Keeping Your Tree Alive
Unlike an artificial Christmas tree, a live tree requires specific Christmas tree care, beginning before you even bring it into the house. You have no idea when it was originally cut, and the longer the bottom of the tree has been exposed to the air, the more its pores have closed and fights water ingestion.
Have the tree lot salesman saw a few inches off the base of the tree. A fresh cut opens up the tree's pores and allows it to suck up the water it needs, according to Garden Myths.
Adjust the tree to fit tightly into the stand, but do not cut any of the bark away. The xylem, which is located just below the bark, is what allows the tree to hydrate itself. Without xylem, the tree cannot get water and will dry out.
And speaking of drying out, be sure you check the water level in the stand daily to keep the tree hydrated. No need to feed your real Christmas tree fancy water — clean water from the tap is sufficient and chases away the smells associated with a dying tree. When cleaning the water reservoir, just wipe it with paper towels until all the slime is gone and refresh up to the required water level.
After cleaning the reservoir, add a concoction of aspirin, sugar, and a bit of lemon juice, suggests Real Homes. Your tree should be amenable to your environment for two weeks.