Care of fresh cut trees in the home

Tree freshness is always a concern. A visit to a choose-and-cut farm and cutting your own tree is one way to assure freshness. Pre-cut trees on retail lots require a closer inspection.

The foliage of a pre-cut tree should be flexible when the needle is bent and when the tree is shook very few needles should drop. As soon as you get your tree home, make a fresh straight 1⁄4 inch cut across the base of the trunk and place it in a bucket of water. Use a tree stand that will hold a gallon or more of water.

A fresh tree may take up three or more quarts of water a day for the first few days after it is placed in water. Do not place the tree near a source of heat and never let the water level in the bowl drop below the base of the tree. Make sure light cords are in good working order and are turned off when you go to bed or leave the house.

Tree Selection

Freshness is a key element when finding and keeping that perfect Christmas tree. When selecting a Christmas tree you’ll want to test the branches to see if they are flexible by bending a few branches to see if they spring back into their original shape.


If you cut your own tree you’ll want to ensure you place the tree in water within 24 hours before sap covers the base and to allow the tree to start drinking water. If you’re unable to get your tree in water within the first 24 hours you’ll need to place a fresh cut on the base of the trunk approximately ¼ inch up from the base.


When purchasing a pre-cut Christmas tree you need to ensure a ¼ in cut is made at the base of the trunk. Place your tree in water within 24 hours.


Be sure to keep plenty of water on your tree. The first week your tree will drink up to three or more quarts. Keep and eye on the water level and ensure water is maintained to the top edge of the bowl.

Location & Potential Hazards

Find a location that is away from a direct heating source such as a fireplace, radiator, electric heaters, etc. Test all light cords and other electric decorations to ensure they are in good working order. Best practice is to leave all lights off while in bed or away from your home.