Expert advice to keep the seasonal cheer fresh throughout the holiday.
One of the many reasons people love real Christmas trees is the amazing aroma that fills your home. And one of the reasons people shy away from real Christmas trees is that they think there is a lot of maintenance and care involved with upkeep — which is not entirely true.
With just a few simple “tricks of the trade” you’ll be able to keep your tree thriving and have a natural evergreen scent filling your home throughout the season.
1. Start With a Fresh Tree
The fresher the tree, the longer the tree will last. If you are getting your tree from a Choose and Cut Farm, you’ll know just how fresh it is, because you’re the one doing the cutting. If you are picking up a pre-cut tree, first test for needle retention by grasping the branch and pulling down gently. The branch should feel supple in your hand, and if brown needles and a few green needles come off, that’s ok, your tree is fresh. If lots of green needles come off, you’ll want to look for a different tree.
2. Get a Fresh Cut
For a fresh Christmas tree to last through the season, water uptake is critical. For your tree to drink water, you’ll need to cut about an inch off the base of the trunk, removing the portion that has been sealed over with resin. All retailers should provide this service for you, so don’t forget to ask.
Pro Tip: A fresh cut is the best way to keep your tree fresh longer. Christmas trees are conifers, meaning they produce resin, which seals off the trunk after it’s been cut. So, if you don’t know when your tree was cut down, odds are you’ll need a fresh cut, so your tree will be able to take up water when you get home.
3. Water Immediately
Natural trees need plenty of water to stay fresh. Once you get your tree home, be sure to get your tree into water as soon as possible. If you don’t have your stand handy yet, place the tree in a bucket or tub of water until you’re ready to get that tree up.
Pro Tip: Good old tap water is your best bet for keeping your tree fresh. Additives like sugar, aspirin, corn syrup, or bleach should not be put into the tree’s water.
4. Know Your Stand
Not all stands are created equal. Did you know a tree can drink about a quart of water per inch of trunk diameter? Make sure your stand reservoir has enough capacity for your tree — at least 1 to 1 ½ gallons. It’s not a bad idea to scale up on size if you’re unsure. Check out our Stand Guide for things to consider when selecting your Christmas tree stand.
Pro Tip: Keep your tree baled until it’s situated in the stand, and water the tree before you unbale it.
5. Check Your Surroundings
Heat tends to dry trees out more quickly, so find a spot that’s not too close to a heat source — like a radiator or baseboard or forced air vents — and of course never put your tree near a fireplace, wood stove, or space heaters. When possible, avoid windows with southern exposure since they have the strongest sunlight.
Check the outlet closest to the tree to make sure it’s functioning properly before adding any decorations. Also, check your lights to make sure there are no defects or frayed wires on your lights or extension cords. Never leave your Christmas tree lights on when you’re not home or when you’re going to bed.
Pro Tip: Timers are a great way to remember to turn your lights on and off each day.
6. Water Often, Water Daily
Water is essential to helping your tree stay fresh longer. Check your stand daily to make sure that the level of water does not go below the base of the tree. In the first few days, check your stand several times a day, as your tree may be drinking lots of water to get rehydrated. There can still be water in the stand even though the base of the tree is no longer submerged.
Pro Tip: Assign the job to one person in your home at a set time each day.
Real Christmas trees are 100% recyclable and 100% biodegradable. After Christmas or when your tree starts to dry out, remove it from your house and take advantage of a recycling program near you. Most cities or local organizations have recycling and/or curbside pick-up programs. Check with them to get all the details.
Pro Tip: Use a ladle or turkey baster to get the water out of the stand before removing the tree from the house. And don’t forget to thoroughly clean your stand before you store it for next year.