Once the tree is purchased, cutting at least an inch off the bottom of the trunk is critical to open up the capillaries that will allow water to be drawn up. Some people cut the tree once it’s home, Lamprey said, while others want the nursery to make the cut.
“This year, one woman brought a wet cloth to wrap around it after we cut it, then she put a plastic bag over it,” Lamprey said. “She read it would keep the cut from drying out on the way home. I thought that was a pretty good idea.”
Once cut and home, immediately put the tree in a stand deep enough to hold at least a gallon of water, Lamprey said, then keep checking it.
“The first day or so, it’s really going to drink up a lot of water,” Lamprey said. “So you want to check the water level at least twice a day. If the water level drops below the cut line, the capillaries are going to close up again and the tree will dry out. And nobody wants to take a decorated tree out of its stand to cut it again.”
Placing the tree in a cool room helps it live longer. Putting it in a room with a wood stove or near a roaring fireplace might make for a romantic picture, but the heat will toast the tree up nicely, leading to it drying out quickly.
Check lights and wiring before putting them on the tree, as cracked wire can be a safety hazard, Lamprey said. He also recommends staying away from large Christmas tree lights, since they can get hot and catch on fire. LED or small lights are safer and better for tree longevity, he said. And never leave the lights on when nobody is home.
“We ask a lot of our Christmas trees,” Condon said. “We take them out of the wild and put them into a hostile, warm, domestic environment.”