The length of time that a fresh-cut Christmas tree lasts indoors is dependent upon when the tree was cut, the species of tree, how the tree was transported, where the tree is situated within the house and the care of the tree after it has been brought in and set up. Trees that are not fresh and are not given adequate moisture may last only a few days. You can keep a live Christmas tree indoors looking magnificent for up to eight weeks or more if you care for it properly.
Of course, you can always get an artificial tree that will stay green throughout the holiday season so you never have to worry about needle retention—but a live tree decked out with Christmas lights and holiday decorations really makes your home feel like Christmas. Properly caring for a fresh-cut Christmas tree not only extends the life of the tree, but also prevents the tree from becoming a fire hazard.
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Properly caring for a fresh-cut Christmas tree not only extends the life of the tree, but also prevents the tree from becoming a fire hazard.
Fortunately, proper care for a cut tree is not difficult. To keep your Christmas tree alive, take some steps before putting up your tree, and make sure it stays watered and cool throughout the Christmas and New Year seasons.
Water your live Christmas tree
The single most important factor in keeping a cut tree fresh and healthy is to ensure that it receives a lot of water. A proper Christmas tree stand to accommodate the tree and serve as the water reservoir should have at least 1 quart of water per inch of trunk diameter. If the tree trunk has a diameter of fewer than 4 inches, the stand should still be able to hold up to 1 gallon of water, as a healthy cut tree can imbibe this much per day initially.
Water is key! Check the water levels every day. You can refill the bucket of water with plain tap water, as you don’t need additives to keep your tree fresh.
Keep your Christmas tree cool
Place your cut live Christmas tree as far away from a direct heat source as possible to extend its indoor life span. Avoid obvious hot locations such as near fireplaces, heaters, stoves, air ducts, vents and radiators. Placing a cut tree near a television or computer, near frequently burned candles or even in a south-facing window can accelerate the decline of a fresh-cut live Christmas tree.
Initial care of a live Christmas tree
Preventive measures are the first steps to keeping your fresh-cut live Christmas tree indoors as long as possible. Make sure that when you transport the tree home from the store or tree farm that the tree is covered, as it can lose moisture when it makes the trip on top of a vehicle or in the back of an open-bed truck.
If your tree is going to be outside for more than an hour after being cut, make sure to give it a fresh cut prior to bringing it into the house to help it absorb water once inside.
Choose a type of tree that will last longer
Some Christmas tree species just naturally last a bit longer than others. Look for Canaan fir, Concolor fir, Fraser fir or white pine when selecting your Christmas tree.
A tree that is still attached to its roots in the field before bringing it home will last considerably longer inside than one that has already been cut for days or even weeks. If cutting your own tree is not practical, make sure to test for freshness on prospective pre-cut trees by gently pulling on a branch to see if green needles come off. If more than a couple fall off, the tree is likely not fresh and will not absorb water easily.
If you give the tree a shake and several brown needles fall out, that is normal and not a sign of dryness.
Whether you pick a fresh tree from a tree lot or find and cut one on your own, there are some simple steps to take to make sure your real Christmas tree lasts. Make sure the tree always has plenty of water and position it away from any heat sources. This basic tree care will keep your Christmas tree fresh for weeks throughout all of the holiday festivities.