Local Lifestyle

WVU expert offers tips for caring for fresh holiday trees, like the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

If the selection of this year’s U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree from the Monongahela National Forest is inspiring you to opt for the authentic look and smell of a fresh cut tree, a West Virginia University expert is offering advice to help with caring for that tree throughout the holiday season.

Dave McGill, a WVU Extension forest resources specialist, shares his tips for giving trees at home the same level of care as the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.

“Once you harvest and transport your tree home, it’s important to get it into the water as soon as you can. But before you do that, you always want to cut another little section off the base of the tree to allow water to absorb more easily. Then, once you get it into your tree stand, make sure it’s watered every day — maybe even a couple times a day during the first week,” said McGill.

“One way to check a tree’s freshness is we just kind of grab the ends of the needles and pull on them. It’s just kind of a gentle tug. You shouldn’t get any fresh needles coming off,” he said.

Deciding where to put the tree you’ve selected is another important decision.

“Lights can be an issue if they’re damaged or not working properly. But even more critical than that is where you put the tree. You don’t want to put it near heat sources, especially if you have a heat stove or a fireplace. This can dry out the tree, which will shorten its life and create a fire hazard,” McGill said.

“When it’s time to dispose of the tree after the holidays, there are several options, but one thing I’ve done in the past is put it in my backyard for the winter birds. If you have the space, this is a great option to give the birds a place to land on the way to the bird feeder throughout the winter,” he said.

Read about how WVU Extension helped prepare the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree for the holiday season.