Caring For A Live Christmas Tree

Here are some tips for keeping your Christmas tree healthy over the holidays.

  • Watering is critical. A freshly cut tree can consume a gallon of water in 24 hours!
  • If you purchase a pre-cut tree, saw 2-3 inches off the bottom of the trunk before setting in water. When trees are cut down pitch (or sap) oozes out and seals the pores. By sawing off the base, you will open up the pores, and the tree will be able to absorb water.
  • If you purchase a fresh cut tree and set it up within 24 hours there is no need to saw off the bottom of the trunk. However, if 24 hours or more have passed, saw 2-3 inches off the bottom of the trunk before setting it in water.
  • Check the water level in the tree stand every day and keep it filled.
  • Never let the water level fall below the tree’s base.
  • Indoor trees need to be kept away from heating ducts or other heat sources. In fact, the lower the temperature, the better the tree will do.
  • An urban legend is to add aspirin or sugar to the water, however, there is no scientific evidence supporting this practice.

Tips on buying the perfect Christmas tree:

  • If possible, buy a freshly-cut tree from a reputable Christmas tree farm. Freshly-cut Christmas trees are farmed specifically for their purpose and support local agriculture.
  • The top-selling Christmas tree species in South Carolina are Murray Cypress, Leyland Cypress, White Pine, and Carolina Sapphire.
  • If purchasing a pre-cut tree, avoid one that has needles that fall off easily when running your hands along the branch. If they do, this is a sign that the needles will continue to drop and its aesthetic appeal has been compromised. This may lead to a poor quality looking Christmas tree for the holidays!

To locate a Christmas tree farm in South Carolina visit the South Carolina Christmas Tree Associations web page: www.scchristmastrees.org

For more information on caring for your Christmas trees, see HGIC1752, Safety Tips for Enjoying Your Christmas Tree.

Murray Cypress is one of the top-selling Christmas tree species in South Carolina.

Murray Cypress is one of the top-selling Christmas tree species in South Carolina.
Mark Arena, ©2019 Clemson Extension

Carolina Sapphire, another top-selling Christmas tree species in South Carolina.

Carolina Sapphire, another top-selling Christmas tree species in South Carolina.
Mark Arena, ©2019 Clemson Extension

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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