Shopping for the perfect real Christmas tree can be a little tricky if you’re not a seasoned real tree veteran. But once you’ve picked out the perfect Christmas tree for you and your family, it’s time to haul it home and decorate it. Decorating your tree takes time and energy, and you certainly want to see your Christmas decor last through the season. This requires purchasing the freshest tree possible and taking care of it once you’ve brought it home. To ensure your tree lasts as long as the season does, here are some tips on the best way to take care of your real Christmas tree.

Before You Buy Your Tree

The first thing you want to do is make sure you’re buying the freshest, highest-quality Christmas tree you can. This ensures that your maintenance efforts after you get the tree home will pay off. If you purchase a less-than-quality tree straight out of a nursery, your best efforts to maintain its lifespan will only work for a short period of time.

You’ll want to test the quality of the tree at the nursery by following these short tips.

  1. Check the freshness of the tree by testing to see if the needles easily fall off. Do this by taking a branch in your hand closest to the trunk. With your hand wrapped around the branch, pull your hand towards you. If a lot of needles fall off in this process, you want to move on to a fresher tree.
  2. Check the freshness of the tree by checking the fragrance of its needles. Do this by crushing some needles between your pointer finger and thumb. A strong scent means freshness, little to no scent means not fresh.
  3. Make sure that the trunk is cut straight across, not at an angle. You can ask your tree farm or nursery to make a fresh cut for you. This is to make sure that it stays upright in its stand, but most importantly because a fresh cut ensures that the trunk is open enough to absorb water for maximum freshness. An older cut will have already sealed up with sap, making it harder to absorb the water in its stand.

Before You Bring Your Tree Inside

While decorating your Christmas tree is very exciting and you may want to get it inside to decorate it as soon as possible, there is still one last step before bringing it indoors. Some Christmas trees carry pollen, dust, or other piggybackers that you don’t want inside your home. There are two ways to get rid of these, depending on what method works best for you and how much time you have.

  1. Spray your Christmas tree off with a water hose to ensure you rid it of pollen, dust, and possible fungi. Make sure you allow it to fully dry in a warm location before bringing it indoors.
  2. Simply give your Christmas tree a healthy shake to free the dust from it.

Setting Up Your Christmas Tree

Your tree should fit nicely in its stand. You’ll want to go with a tree stand with a larger water reservoir so that it can hold more water. Once it’s set up in its stand, you’ll need to water it immediately.

If you’re not setting it up immediately, then you should place it in a large bucket of water in a protected area like the garage or porch to protect it from the elements. Provided you’ve already cleaned it at this point, you want to ensure nothing else gets on the needles or branches before bringing it inside.

Maintaining Your Christmas Tree

  1. Water your tree frequently. You never want the water to dip below the trunk. In order to ensure it’s getting enough water, check your stand’s water levels daily. Flocked Christmas trees will not require as much water.
  2. Avoid direct sunlight as this speeds up the drying process. Set the tree, if possible, near a window or in a corner with indirect sunlight.

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