How to Keep Your Christmas Tree Fresh for the Entire Month of December, According to Tree Farmers

The natural conifer can survive for up to a month and a half with persistent care.

Real Christmas trees make for a beautiful and traditional holiday decoration. The only downside to natural conifers is that they don't last as long as faux iterations. Slowly, throughout the month of December, the tannenbaum will shed needles and begin to dry out. However, you can extend the longevity of your real tree during the holiday season with some persistent care—and a good solid base.

Johnny Miller

How Long a Real Christmas Tree Lasts

When cared for properly, a real Christmas tree lasts about a month, but with proper care it can stay fresh for as long as a month and a half. "Giving it fresh water daily will help the tree last longer," says Sean Duffy of Stone Mill Gardens in Northern New Jersey. "Once the stand runs out of water it's hard to get the tree to drink water again."

Keep Water in the Stand

Treat your holiday tree the same way you would any live plant. If you want to keep it fresh, it needs to have adequate water. "Water is the absolute most important thing you can do to preserve your tree for Christmas," says Jane Neubauer, co-owner of Sugar Pines Farm in Chesterland, Ohio. "Get a tree stand with a built-in reservoir and check it regularly. People don't always realize how much water their Christmas trees will drink up. You'll need to replenish the water regularly."

As a general rule, you should provide 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter. Despite popular belief, neither a hole drilled in the bottom of the trunk nor the water temperature impact the tree's longevity or its ability to retain water. You can buy additives to help water absorption and kill bacteria, but they aren't as necessary as simply keeping the tree well-watered.

Trim the Trunk

When trees are first cut, sap rushes to close the wound, sealing the bottom. "When that happens, the tree isn't as able to absorb water," Neubauer says. "Add a fresh cut at the bottom right before you place it in water, and try to put up your Christmas tree the same day you bring it home."

How to Trim the Trunk

Using a saw, trim 1/2 inch off the trunk before placing in a reservoir stand with water. Make the cut perpendicular to the axis of the stem, and avoid cutting the trunk at an angle or in a V-shape because it will make it harder to keep the tree upright in the stand.

Keep Your Tree Away From Heat

Direct sunlight or a furnace will quickly dry out the tree. "Your tree will become dry and brittle if it's too close to a heat source," says Neubauer. "Place the tree someplace where it isn't facing direct heat, and that will help your tree not to dry out too fast." You can also lower the temperature in the room where the tree is located to slow down the drying process. If your tree does dry out, though, you will need to remove it from the house and recycle it.

Turn Off Christmas Lights When You're Away

Lights can become very hot and cause a fire hazard if left on the tree unmonitored for hours at a time. Play it safe and turn off the lights before bed—or if you're not going to be around to monitor the tree. Smaller lights on the tree might also help to slow the drying-out process, but you can still use large lights if you keep up on watering the tree.

Make sure that all of your bulbs are in good condition and that the cords for the lights are not worn or frayed. Real trees can catch fire, so follow general fire safety tips when keeping a real Christmas tree indoors. Turning off the lights occasionally will also slow down the drying-out process.

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