Caring for Your Christmas Tree

— Written By and last updated by

Once cut and taken home, Christmas trees must be properly maintained or they’ll quickly lose their luster and quality. Don’t be a Grinch, follow these simple steps from NC State Extension’s resident expert, Jeff Owen, to keep your Christmas tree merry and bright throughout the season!

Visit NC State Extension’s Christmas tree portal and follow the team on Facebook for more helpful holiday tips.

7 Keys for Keeping a Fresh Christmas Tree

  • Before setting up your tree, cut at least ½-inch off the trunk to help the tree take up water easier.
  • Display the tree away from heat sources like air vents, fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators and sunny windows.
  • Use lights that are in good working condition and UL certified. Unplug the lights when you leave the house or go to sleep.
  • To best preserve your tree at home, plain water is best! Never add anything to the water.
  • A tree stand that holds a gallon of water will keep your tree fresh throughout the holiday season — check it daily and keep it full.
  • Dry trees can take a day or two before taking up water, and trees that were very cold may need some time to take up water again.
  • Tree still not taking up water? If the tree isn’t decorated, you can put another fresh cut on the stump. If it is, you can try drilling a few holes in the trunk below the waterline.
  • Christmas trees are perishable products and must be properly maintained or they’ll quickly lose their luster and quality – visit for more expert tree care resources.

Print Tip Sheet