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Caring for a Real Christmas Tree

Fresh Christmas trees require a little more care than fake ones, but their beauty and lowered environmental impact are worth it!

Choosing the Best Spot

Just as with cut flowers in a vase, the trick to keeping real trees looking good is to keep them from drying out. Trees should be kept away from major sources of heat (fireplaces, heaters, heat vents, direct sunlight) as these will dry out your tree faster. Cooler room temperatures will also help to slow down moisture loss.

Measuring the Spot

Avoid a Clark Griswold moment – know the size of your space and be sure to choose a tree that will fit. When viewing trees outside against a big open space, they often seem smaller. Some trees are narrow, while others can be quite wide, so consider both height and width when measuring.

Choosing the Best Tree Stand

Think of your tree stand as a vase for flowers. It needs to hold the tree upright and hold ample amounts of water. Here are a few factors to consider:

  1. Size – Trees can vary in size from 3’ tall to over 12’ tall, so choose a tree stand that is appropriate for the size of tree you intend to put in it. Shaving off the sides of the trunk to fit in a stand that is too small will decrease the tree’s ability to take up water.
  2. Stability – Taller trees need more stability and thus stronger legs that extend out further.
  3. Water Capacity – Be sure the stand can hold enough water, at least 1 quart of water for every inch of trunk diameter. The water will need to be checked daily (twice daily the first few days) so choose a stand that is accessible.

Pro Tip: Slip a biodegradable plastic tree bag over the trunk before attaching the tree stand. Spread the bag out under the tree skirt. When the holidays are done, you can pull the bag up over the tree and easily carry it outside without scattering needles throughout the house.

Planning for Decorations

Consider your style before choosing a tree. Some varieties of trees are dense and bushy, so only the outer tips of the branches can be decorated. Other varieties have a more open form, allowing the inner branches to be decorated as well. If you plan to put heavy ornaments on your tree, be sure to choose a tree variety known for having strong branches. Lights that produce heat can also dry out a tree faster, so opt for cooler lights whenever possible.

Not sure which variety is best for you? Check out our blog post on choosing a tree variety.

Recutting the Trunk

To help your tree take up water, all trees should be given a fresh cut (½” removed from the trunk)  and then put in water as quickly as possible (the quicker the better, but some species can go as long as 6 to 8 hours and still take up water). Once the tree is given a fresh cut, it is important to not bruise the cut or get the cut dirty as this will plug the cells and prevent the uptake of water.

Here at Rick’s we will give each tree a fresh cut before the tree leaves the lot. We can even put your tree stand on your tree for you so that when you get home, all you need to do is add water!

If you will not be able to set up your tree right away, store it in a cool location out of the wind in a bucket that is kept full of water.

Caring for Your Tree

Trees can take up a surprising amount of water – sometimes more than a gallon a day in the first few days. It is important to keep filling the tree stand with water. If the tree runs out of water, the cut will dry out, resin will block the pores, and the tree will lose the ability to take up water. Check the water twice a day the first week, and then daily after that.


Choose lights that are cool to the touch (modern LED lighting is an excellent choice). Inspect lights prior to putting them on the tree and replace them if they are worn out. Check the label on your set of lights to find out how many strands can be connected and do not overload electrical circuits. Keep the tree away from heat sources including candles and fireplaces. Turn off the Christmas tree lights every night before bed. When the tree dries out, it is time to dispose of it.

Tree Disposal

Christmas trees can be recycled at facilities that process them into mulch. More information on the mulching program in Colorado Springs can be found online at TreeCycleCOS.org

Related Products

Pursell Tree Preservative – Liquid: https://www.ricksgarden.com/product/pursell-christmas-tree-preservative-8oz/

Pursell Tree Preservative – Granular: https://www.ricksgarden.com/product/pursell-christmas-tree-preservative-granular-0-5oz/

Tree Disposal Bag: https://www.ricksgarden.com/product/pursell-christmas-tree-disposal-bag/

Bonide Wilt Stop®: https://www.ricksgarden.com/product/bonide-wilt-stop-rtu-40fl-oz/

Wilt-Pruf®: https://www.ricksgarden.com/product/15035/