Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Final Questions of the Season

From: Robert & Tracy
Sent: Sunday, December 17, 2006 3:48 PM
Subject: smelly tree water

Just a quick question about tree water. Unfortunately although we cut off about an inch of our trunk on the Douglas Fir we purchased two weeks ago, it absorbed virtually no water. Now, the water is beginning to smell foul and just curious if you have any suggestions for any water additives to get rid of the smell. The tree is 9' tall and too difficult to pick up and take outside to dump out the water, so we were hoping to pour pine-sol or bleach or something else in the stand knowing the tree is already drying up and absorbing any water. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Answer: Unusual that it didn't take up water...must be something else going on with that particular tree. I'm sorry you're not enjoying it as much as you should.

Bleach, although very diluted, is still hydrochloric acid, not good for plant tissue. I would recommend some fresh water with dissolved baking soda.

Sent: Sunday, December 17, 2006 12:09 AM
Subject: christmas tree safety

I grew up with cedar trees as the christmas tree. Are they more dangerous than pine?

Answer: dangerous in what way? There are many varieties of cedar grown and harvested as Christmas Trees (deadora, eastern red, etc).

From: Tish Pasiewicz
Sent: Monday, December 18, 2006 10:32 AM
Subject: Blog Talk Ideas

I don't know why the water in my tree stand has turned stinky. We have had fresh trees for years with no problems. I want to remove the water and add fresh water. Is there anything I can add to the water to help with crud on the trunk and sides of the receptacle that may still be stinky? Someone suggested 1/4 cup bleach but that just seems like a bad idea to me!! Thanks.

Answer: That is a bad idea. Bleach, although very diluted, is still hydrochloric acid, not good for plant tissue. It's very odd, but we've had a number of "the water in my stand smells bad" emails this year. You can remove the water quickly with a shop vac (small attachment) or a turkey baster or some kind of siphon system (have you ever had a water bed and had to drain one when moving?).

From: Nancy
Sent: Sunday, December 17, 2006 10:44 AM
Subject: National Christmas tree Assoc. on CBS

Congrats on the CBS Morning show (my favorite show) plug for the National Christmas Tree Assoc. last Sunday. It spoke about the trend of real trees coming back. I got a real tree this year in my new house. Love it! Hey, my brother told me that he saw something about using boiling water to water the tree. Do you know anything about that?

Answer: I didn't even know about the CBS show, but someone else mentioned it too...I'll have to find the clip.

Water temp in the stand does not have an impact on a tree's ability to absorb water, so I would just use plain tap water. I suppose the theory behind using boiling hot water is it can soften and disperse any sap or resin on the cut surface of the trunk. And while that may be true, sap is not the culprit of inhibiting a tree's ability to absorb water, air is.

From: Gary Mooney
Sent: Monday, December 18, 2006
Subject: South West Tennessee

I am looking at planting an acre of Christmas trees in south west Tennessee. I like the fir trees but want something that will grow rapidly in our area, so I am considering Virginia pines instead. Please comment?????????

Answer: Many good books and guides have been published, a library or Amazon.com search should yield plenty. In addition, growing trees varies a great deal, depending on your climate, soil, terrain and what kind of tree species you're interested in growing. We recommend that you contact a county extension agent and the state association closest to you.

From: Mike Vovaris
Sent: Saturday, December 16, 2006 11:52 AM
Subject: Blog Talk Ideas

My tree stopped taking in water and is drying out. It was a fresh cut on the weekend of Thanksgiving. I have kept up with the watering (adding sugar) making sure it did not go below the base of the tree. What can I do? Take the tree down and make a fresh cut? Any help or suggestions would be great.

Answer: It's completely typical for the rate of water absorption to fluctuate. So just because it hasn't taken up more water recently is not in itself a bad sign. If the cut surface has always been in water and not exposed to air then no re-cut is needed and wouldn't improve it's water uptake. Of course, sooner or later all cut trees will completely stop taking up water. How soon this happens depends on a many things, including the individual tree itself. Time ranges can be 3 weeks to 3 months in some cases.

My suggestion would be to stay the course. You don't need to add sugar to the water...that does NOTHING for the tree and could lead to a build up of bacteria in the water causing a bad odor.

From: Joe Mims
Sent: Saturday, December 16, 2006 10:13 AM
Subject: no smell

I write to you because I don’t know where my trees came from, one was from a tree lot, the other Target. We brought 2 firs home and to our great disappointment found they had almost no smell to them.

We might as well have bought artificial. Is this due to biological engineering or just a fluke of the past growing season? Because, if it’s the former I will be investing in artificial trees.

Answer: I'm not sure what you mean by "biological engineering", but there's no way a nursery could pollinate and germinate a new seedling and eliminate the tree's aroma. Even if it was possible, nobody in the nursery or Christmas Tree business would want to. The aroma which people sense/smell comes from the liquid pitch and resin portion of the tree.

You don't say which particular species you have, and some species generally produce more aroma than others. But one of the problems in talking about aroma is there is not a definitive scale for it. The sense of smell is different for every person and people simply don't smell (vb) things the same way. In other words, a tree that has a "strong aroma" to me, might not to someone else, and vice versa. I know that sounds like a lot of mumbo jumbo.

Here are the things I can tell you for sure. A tree will smell stronger the more moisture it has, which is another important reason to make sure to make a fresh cut off the base and keep the cut surface in water at all times. The more water a tree absorbs, the stronger it will smell. Also, the needles contain the most moisture and aroma potential. If you pick some needles off a branch and rip them in half or crush them, you will get the biggest "whiff".

From: Jessica Smith
Sent: Saturday, December 16, 2006 2:42 AM
Subject: scholarship eligibility

I wanted to apply for the Christmas tree scholarship, but the tree I want to submit is not from my home. It was part of a project I was involved in, which I would like to share. Am I still eligible?

Answer: As long as it's a farm-grown Christmas Tree, that's fine.