Now that the holiday season is upon us, do you have any...

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Question: Now that the holiday season is upon us, do you have any advice regarding the best way to prolong the life of a cut evergreen Christmas tree? Is there any special solution I should place in the tree stand?

Answer: The first thing you should do to ensure that your tree will last through the holidays is to buy a freshly cut one from a reputable nursery or cut your own. Many of the trees for sale were cut weeks before. If there are lots of needles on the ground around the trees, go elsewhere. Once you get your tree home, saw a couple of inches off the bottom of the trunk. When trees are cut, pitch oozes out and seals the pores. By sawing off the base, you will open up the pores, and the tree will be able to absorb water. Indoors, keep the tree away from heating ducts. In fact, the lower the temperature, the better the tree will do. Fill the tree stand with water and keep it filled; don’t allow all the water to evaporate. One old Vermonter we knew always packed his tree stand with well-watered soil and planted the tree in the mixture. The soil should be kept wet. Some people add aspirin or sugar to the water; we can’t say whether either helps. Again, water is the vital element.