Frequently Asked Questions
• Is a fresh cut necessary before putting my tree in its stand?
A fresh cut is advised for Mississippi trees because it allows the tree to take up more water and stay fresh longer. If you aren’t able to re-cut your tree at home, cover the fresh cut with several layers of plastic wrap and secure with rubber bands or tape. This will keep the cut from sealing itself before you get it home and into water.
• How much should be cut off the end of a trunk?
At least 1 inch.
• Will tapering the base or cutting it at an angle increase the area that takes up water?
No. Tapering the base will remove the outer layers of wood, which are the most efficient at taking up water. Cutting the tree at an angle does not increase the water uptake, either; an angled cut can actually reduce the amount of water available to the tree, make it hard to hold a tree in the stand, and cause some of the cut to be exposed to air if water in the stand gets low.
• How large should my water stand be?
A stand that holds at least a gallon of water (if not more) is best. Mississippi-grown Christmas trees take up more water than average Christmas trees; Leyland cypress will use more than a gallon of water per day for the first few days.
•What kind of tree stand should I use?
In order to maintain tree freshness and limit needle loss, the most effective tree stand is the traditional reservoir type. Make sure the stand fits your tree. Don’t whittle the edges down to make it fit.
• Should I add bleach, aspirin, fertilizer, or anything else to the water to make my tree last longer?
These are not necessary, but a teaspoon of bleach will help keep the water from becoming moldy.
• What if my tree doesn’t seem to be absorbing water in the stand?
If your tree isn’t absorbing water, take it out of its stand and lay it on its side. Make a fresh half-inch cut and put the tree back in the stand immediately. Make sure the water in the stand covers the fresh cut.
The tree will eventually stop absorbing water and start to dry out. You will know this has happened when the water level in the stand stays constant from day to day. The foliage will remain green for about 2 to 3 weeks after the tree begins drying.
Sources: Dr. Stephen Dicke, Extension Professor, Central Mississippi Research and Extension Center, Mississippi State University; and Dr. John Kushla, Extension/Research Professor, North Mississippi Research and Extension Center, Mississippi State University.