Caring for Your Christmas Tree


Since the mid-1800s, Americans have been buying and displaying Christmas trees in their homes and today, according to the National Christmas Tree Association, between 30 and 35 million trees are sold every year. The most popular Christmas tree varieties include Balsam and Douglas firs, Scotch and White pines, and Blue and White spruces. All have excellent needle retention, good fragrance and sturdy branches to accommodate ornaments.

Step 1

Check your tree stand. Measure its opening and choose a tree that will fit without trimming. Whittling the trunk will decrease the tree's ability to absorb water. Measure your tree stand's water capacity. It should hold about 1 quart of water per 1 inch trunk diameter.

Step 2

Pick the freshest tree. When choosing a holiday tree, grasp the tip of a branch and run your other hand back toward the center of the tree. The needles should be flexible and soft. Trees should be displayed in a shaded area--and don't be afraid to ask when they were cut.

Step 3

Cut a level, 1/4- to 1/2-inch slice from the bottom of the trunk. Do not cut the tree trunk at an angle. This will not increase water uptake and it will reduce the tree's stability when you put it in the stand. If your tree stand has a center stability point, drill a hole in the center of the trunk. If not, there is no need to drill holes in the trunk.

Step 4

Put the tree in water within 12 hours of making the cut. If you are storing the tree, put the trunk in a bucket of clean water and keep it in a shaded area.

Step 5

Put your tree in the best place to avoid dryness and reduce fire hazards. Do not place your tree in front of a heating vent or within 15 feet of your fireplace. If possible, do not place the tree in front of a southern or western window.

Step 6

Use cool-burning Christmas lights. Before stringing, check all light strands for frays or breaks in the wires. Discard any worn or suspect light strands.

Step 7

Check the reservoir every day. During the first week, your tree will take up a large amount of water. If the reservoir goes dry for longer than 24 hours, it will inhibit water take-up.

Tips and Warnings

  • Check your tree for dryness. When the needles begin to break and fall, it is time to remove the tree.

Things You'll Need

  • Tree stand
  • Ruler
  • Water
  • Saw
  • Bucket


  • Penn State University: Caring For Your Cut Christmas Tree
  • Oregon State University: Christmas Tree Care Tips
  • National Christmas Tree Association
Keywords: christmas tree, holiday tree, cool-burning Christmas lights

About this Author

Moira Clune is a freelance writer who since 1991 has been writing sales and promotional materials for her own and other small businesses. In addition, she has published articles on, and