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Testing out a Christmas tree preservative

Vacation promises to prevent needle drop and drying

Vacation promises to prevent needle drop and drying for a Christmas tree that can go 2-3 weeks without watering. Credit: Handout

So, I nabbed a great Christmas tree a couple of nights ago -- the usual 7-foot Fraser fir, which typically isn't a big needle dropper to begin with, but I'm trying out something new this year. Instead of filling the tree stand with water every day, sometimes twice a day, I'm testing out a new product that promises to help me avoid all that.

Vacation is an all-natural, anti-drought plant treatment that's safe for use on houseplants, annuals, perennials and even fruit and vegetable plants. It gets its name because, presumably, you can apply it to your plants and go on vacation without hiring the kid across the street to water for you while you're gone.

The product promises to work on Christmas trees, too, so I'm putting my $79 tree on the line in the name of research. When I brought the tree home, my burly husband untied it from the top of the car and hauled it into the house, with only minimal swearing. Then he brought in the tree stand and, while I held the tree straight, sort of, he anchored it into place. Then I filled a gallon-size container with water and the entire bottle of Vacation, and poured it into the stand's reservoir.

Almost immediately, Maddie the mutt began drinking the water, but no worries there: the product is nontoxic to people and pets.

According to the package label, that should be it for the season as far as watering goes. The tree is supposed to soak up the preservative and retain the water for as long as 4 weeks, without drying out or dropping a lot of needles.

I'll be checking the reservoir daily and reporting back. In the meantime, if you'd like to give this a try yourself this year, you'll find Vacation at naturehills.com and some local nurseries for $10 - $15.

That's my tree -- forgive the cell phone photo quality -- on Day 1. Notice there are no needles on the floor. I'll keep you posted.

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