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Fresh-cut holiday trees on display

December 2, 2011

The Fort Collins District of the Colorado State Forest Service is providing the fresh-cut holiday trees that are on display starting this week at the State Capitol, CSU President's Office and other CSU and CSFS offices.

CSFS employees slide fresh-cut trees over recent snow.The 10- to 15-foot subalpine fir trees were recently harvested at about 8,500 feet in northern Larimer County on State Trust Land impacted by mountain pine beetles. CSFS foresters selectively cut trees on the property to improve forest health.

Mike Hughes, assistant district forester with the CSFS Fort Collins District, is responsible for ensuring that CSFS holiday trees delivered each December are first treated to reduce fire risk. After the trees are cut, he soaks each tree base in a time-honored solution that encourages water absorption. Hughes says the most important safety measure for any holiday tree is making sure its stand never runs out of water.

“Keeping the tree stand reservoir full is a must if you’re enjoying a fresh-cut tree, because well-watered trees are much less likely to cause a fire,” he said.  

Holiday tree tips

The CSFS recommends the following holiday tree safety tips, applicable for locally cut trees and those from a nearby tree lot:

  • Select a fresh tree. Make sure needles do not drop off readily when you run your hands over them or shake the tree trunk. 
  • Saw the base. A few hours after being cut, trees start to dry out at the base. To improve water absorption, saw a 1-inch cookie off the tree base before submerging it in water.
  • Location, location, location. Holiday trees should not be placed near fireplaces, heat sources or areas with extended direct sunlight.
  • Water your tree often. Make sure the waterline never drops below the base. During the first few days at home, this probably means adding water twice daily.
  • Minimize ignition risks. Keep open flames away from trees and don’t overload nearby circuits by plugging too many lights into a wall socket.
  • Monitor the tree. If a holiday tree dries out faster than expected, remove it right away.

Holiday tree solution

The CSFS recommends the following holiday tree-watering solution to increase absorption:

  • 2 gallons hot water
  • 2 cups corn syrup
  • 2 ounces liquid bleach
  • 2 pinches Epsom salts
  • ½ teaspoon borax
  • 1 teaspoon chelated iron (available at garden shops)

Mix well, then cool before filling the base. Keep extra solution on hand for regular refilling.

Contact: Ryan Lockwood
Phone: (970) 491-8970