When a Christmas tree is cut, over half of its weight is water. With proper care, you can maintain the quality of your displayed tree.
If you are not putting the tree up right away, store it in an unheated garage or some other area out of the wind and cold (freezing) temperatures. Make a fresh one inch cut on the base end and place the tree in a bucket of warm water.
Displaying trees in water in a traditional reservoir type stand is the most effective way of maintaining their freshness and minimizing needle loss.
Before you put the tree in the stand, make a fresh cut to remove about a ½ inch thick, flat disk of wood from the base of the trunk.
Don’t cut the trunk at an angle, or into a V-shape. This makes it far more difficult to hold the tree in the stand and also reduces the amount of water available to the tree.
Use a stand that fits your tree. Avoid whittling the sides of the trunk down to fit the stand. The outer layers of wood are the most efficient in taking up water and should not be removed. Drilling a hole in the base of the trunk does not improve water uptake.
How much water? A tree will absorb as much as a gallon of water or more in the 24 hours after it is cut, and one or more quarts everyday after. Use cold water – hot water is of no benefit.
Do not use chemicals or additives (including floral preservatives, molasses, sugar, bleach, soft drinks, aspirin, honey or other concoctions) in the water to prevent evaporation. Clean water is the only requirement to maintain freshness.
Keep displayed trees away from sources of heat (fireplaces, heaters, heat vents, and direct sunlight). Lowering the room temperature will slow the drying process, resulting in less water consumption each day.
Check all Christmas tree lights for worn electrical cords. Use UL approved electrical decorations and cords. Do not overload electrical circuits, and always turn off the tree lights when leaving the house or when going to bed.
Use lights that produce low heat, such as the miniature or LED lights. Less heat helps reduce drying of the tree.
Take down and remove the tree before it dries out. Many fresh cut trees, if properly cared for, will last at least five weeks before drying out.
Remember – fresh cut Christmas trees are biodegradable! Recycle your tree after Christmas. Many communities will pick up trees and turn them into chips. Check with your local community recycle program.
Never burn any part of a fresh Christmas tree in a fireplace or a wood stove. Pine trees have a lot of sap which can flash and also create a chimney fire.