Odd Ways to Hydrate Your Christmas Tree
Excerpt from Valley 101: The Great Big Book of Life, a collection of Clay Thompson’s columns for The Arizona Republic. (Originally published December 7, 2001.)
I got a letter from a woman whose husband wants to soak their Christmas tree in the pool for a couple of days before putting it up. She sounded quite worried about this.
I have never thrown a Christmas tree into a swimming pool, so I don’t know what effect, if any, the needles would have on the pool filter.
Bob Khan, a deputy chief in the Phoenix Fire Department, has never thrown a Christmas tree into a pool either, but he has heard of the practice and said it’s a good way to hydrate the tree before putting it up. Make a fresh cut on the end first. Christmas trees are, of course, just big stacks of kindling waiting for a match, so anything you can do to keep them from drying up is good.
The traditional method of hacking a couple inches off the bottom and standing the tree in water isn’t very helpful, Khan said, because in a couple of days the sap coagulates in the cut and the tree doesn’t draw any water.
Khan has a new plan this year: Drill a hole an inch or so deep near the middle of the tree. Suspend a bag of water in the tree—the decorations will cover it—and then run a tube from the bag to the hole. Sap won’t fill up the hole, and the tree will have a steady supply of water.
I don’t know, but I’m guessing you could get something like an IV bag in the medical supplies section of a drug store. Or maybe you could rig up a hot water bottle somehow. That might work. You figure it out.
Back in the 1960s, popular Phoenix radio personality, Bill Heywood, used to give out a “recipe” for a tree preservative every holiday season. I don’t remember what the ingredients were, now. I just remember that I wanted to try it, one Christmas, so my parents gave the go ahead, Dad sliced the end off of the tree and secured the trunk in the large, heavy metal stand, and I poured Bill’s formula into the stand’s well. The tree was decorated and seemed to do all right, but, after several days, a funny smell began to emanate from it. I got down on my hands and knees, pulled packages away from the lower branches, and what did my wondering eyes see but… a huge frothy glob of some kind of mold or fungus growing around the tree trunk. I will skip over the details of how we arduously removed the gunk and cleaned out the stand without undecorating the tree, and just say… whatever that was, I can’t recommend it.
It is unfortunate that, when Christmas comes around, the subject of how to keep fresh trees from drying out always comes up, and the memory of that incident always makes me think of Bill Heywood. I say “unfortunate” because Bill was one of those radio guys whose mellow style and sense of humor made you feel like you were listening to a friend, and I’d prefer to remember him for that.
Sleep in Heavenly Peace, Bill.