How to care for a real Christmas tree

Every year during the holiday season, between 25 and 30 million real Christmas trees are purchased from the 15,000 US tree plantations spread across the country.

The National Christmas Tree Association, which is the national trade association representing the true Christmas tree industry, has about 700 active member farms and includes 29 state and regional associations and 4,000 affiliated companies that grow and sell trees. Christmas or provide services and supplies.

NCTA has a wealth of information to help real tree shoppers select and care for their perfect Christmas tree. Here are some tips gleaned from NCTA:

Make the cut. Once you’ve selected your perfect tree and brought it home, it’s important to properly prepare the tree for entry. Once it is brought home, the tree must go into the water as soon as possible. If you choose your tree from a pick and cut farm, and the fresh tree went into the water in a short period, less than a couple of hours, it’s probably ready to go into the stand.

But over time, trees that are left without water for several hours will naturally produce a resin that seals the trunk, and this will not allow the fresh tree to absorb water as it should. This is why it is important to always make a fresh cut on these trees about a half inch to an inch from the base of the tree trunk. Make the cut perpendicular, not in a V shape or at an angle, so that the tree is straight at the base of the tree.

Provide plenty of water. A stand with adequate water holding capacity is the best way to display your real tree. As a general rule of thumb, the NCTA suggests using a support that provides 1 quart of water per inch of your tree’s stem diameter. If the tree has a 2-inch diameter trunk, the stand should hold at least 2 quarts of water.

Keep watering. That first week the tree is inside, it may absorb more water than you realize. This is completely normal. It is not necessary to use warm water or make a hole at the base of the trunk. None of these activities will increase water absorption. The original extra cut made at the base does the trick. Make sure the water reservoir stays full at all times to keep your real tree fresh.

Use common sense. Simple common sense in indoor tree care will keep it looking fresh. Beyond maintaining optimum water levels in its support, keep the tree away from major sources of heat, such as a fireplace, heater, vent, or direct sunlight, as this will dry out the needles. Use lights that are safe and produce little heat, such as miniature lights, because this also reduces drying. Do not overload electrical circuits and always turn lights off before leaving the house or going to bed.

Treat with dry needles. Before you set up your tree, you may have noticed dry tan or brown needles on the inside of the tree, closer to the trunk. This does not mean that your tree is dry. Most evergreens will drop up to 30% of their dried needles from the branches inside the tree each year. Because real trees are usually “cut” in the summer to produce that desirable pyramid shape, this increases needle density and branch growth, so winds don’t blow through the tree as they would in a wild evergreen tree.

Therefore, the needles often do not fall off. Most tree growers will clean the needles manually or place the tree in a shaker to automatically get rid of most of those dried needles before bringing the tree home. If there are any left over, simply scoop them out manually with your hands, but wear gloves during this process to avoid having to deal with the sticky resin on your fingers and hands.

Recycle. It may be tempting, but never burn any part of your evergreen Christmas tree in a wood-burning stove or fireplace. The resin from these branches and the wood can be prone to producing strong sparks, depending on the species of tree. You can always take your tree to a recycling center, have it picked up by a nonprofit organization, or contribute the tree to a community recycling and composting program, depending on your location.

These trees can be used as bird feeders in your garden, especially if you hang fresh orange slices or popcorn on the branches which will attract birds. Just make sure that there are no ornaments or tinsel left on the branches.

Real Christmas trees can be manually shredded, chipped, or simply broken to use as garden biomass and mulch around the home or farm. Such chips work well as erosion control or for paths and hiking trails, as well as landscape mulch. Some real trees are sunk into private fish ponds, making them excellent refuge and feeding areas for fish.

Learn more about caring for your real Christmas tree at

Leave a Comment