Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Smells, Sprays & Trimming - Oh My!

From: Chris Kunkle
Sent: Sunday, December 10, 2006
Subject: YUK! Fish smell from my Christmas tree!

I swear there is a fish smell coming from my fresh-cut Christmas tree. The same thing happened in 2003. I never figured it out back then so I ultimately assumed I was just really sensitive to smells given I was a month pregnant. Oddly enough I'm pregnant again - this time 3 months along - but I swear it isn't the pregnancy. My husband tells me he smells it too!

I'm guessing now that it's the water, but what did I do wrong? Maybe I should have waited till the tree stand's water was all gone before adding more water? I'd love to avoid this nasty situation in the future so any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks in advance for any help that can be provided.

Answer: Wow. Each year, the number of "first" Email questions gets fewer and fewer. Yours is the first "first" of this year. We've never been asked about trees smelling like fish, or the smell possibly being linked to pregnancy.

I'm not an expert on things that make water smell like fish, nor certainly am I an expert on pregnancy. Occasionally people tell us their tree's water smells like rotten eggs. This is typically traced to things they put in the tree's water. Any organic compound can break down and Nitrogen combined with 4 Hydrogen molecules makes ammonia, which smells like rotten eggs.

Let me ask, did you put anything in the tree's water? Was the stand cleaned out before putting the tree and water in? If you suspect something in the water has gone fowl, don't wait until the stand is empty. Use a shop vac with a small attachment or a turkey baster to remove it soon, and replace with clean, fresh water. You can dissolve a little baking soda in the water if you'd like, but avoid harsh acidic fluids and chemicals such as bleach.

From: Joe Sandoval
Sent: Monday, December 11, 2006
Subject: RE: Christmas tree care

Is it bad to get a spray bottle and spray the Christmas tree, douglas fur, directly with water on it's needles? Rumor has it this dries the tree out faster. is this true? also if it is ok to spray the tree directly on the needles how often should you do it?

Answer: True...not good for the tree. A tree loses moisture through water molecules evaporating through the needles. If water is present on the needles and evaporates into the air, it can speed up this process. Just keep the stand filled with water so the tree can absorb water naturally, by drawing it up through the tissue in the cambium layer. It does not absorb water through the needles.

Sent: Sunday, December 10, 2006
Subject: Cutting the top

Can I trim the top off of my tree? It's a Fraser fir.

Answer: you can if you want...it won't hurt the tree.