Green Acres


November 30, 2022

Christmas Tree Care

hen it comes to Christmas tree care during the holidays, the best strategy is to keep it simple. All a tree really needs to maintain freshness is adequate water. Longevity is easily achieved by using the proper tree stand and keeping the water level in the stand above the base of the tree. The following recommendations will help to maintain the freshness and aroma of a live Christmas tree this holiday season.

Use a tree stand that holds enough water for the size of the tree. The rule of thumb is one quart of water per one inch of stem diameter. A stand that holds one gallon of water is standard for most trees. The tree will absorb a surprising amount of water, particularly during the first week, so check the water level daily, refilling as necessary to keep the trunk submerged.

Make sure the stand is the proper size for the tree. Do not “adjust” the size of the tree trunk to fit the stand. The outer layers of wood are the most efficient in taking up water and should not be removed. Before setting the tree in the stand, remove 1/2-1 inch off the bottom of the trunk with a perpendicular cut. Sawing off the bottom allows the tree to take up water more freely as it removes callused-over tissue. Don’t cut the trunk at an angle or into a V-shape. The cut should be flat which allows the tree to sit in the stand more easily and provides more surface area for water uptake. Drilling a hole in the base of the trunk does not improve water uptake.

Fill the tree stand reservoir with plain tap water. Monitor your tree for dryness. Run your fingers across the needles to determine if they are dry and brittle. If most needles break easily or fall off, the tree is too

dry and should be removed from the home. Lowering room temperature will slow the drying process resulting in less water consumption each day.

Information for this article was taken from the MSU Extension Yard and Garden fact sheet 1302P. The fact sheet was written by Dara Palmer, former MSU Extension Assistant Montana Master Gardener Coordinator and Toby Day, former MSU Extension Horticulture Associate Specialist

Montana State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Montana Counties Cooperating. MSU Extension is an equal opportunity/affirmative action provider of educational outreach.


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