Cyndi Lauderdale

Horticulture Agent

December 3, 2012

                                                      CHRISTMAS TREE CARE

Many homeowners are in the process of selecting a cut Christmas tree.  Christmas trees purchased are typically fir, spruce, or pine.  Locally grown Christmas trees may be Leyland or Arizona Cypress, Eastern Red Cedar or another type of evergreen.     

Some Christmas trees were cut several months ahead of the holiday season.  Here inNorth Carolinawe are fortunate to have state-grown trees from the western part of the state, so our trees can be fresher than other parts of the country.  Look for signs that the trees were grown locally and placed in water; this may indicate that the trees were cut more recently.

To select a cut tree you should bend the needles.  If the tree is fresh the needles should spring back into their original shape. Tree needles that break or stay bent are signs that the tree is lacking water and/or dried out.  Another way to check for freshness is to tap the whole tree by its trunk and see if needles fall off or rub a branch through your hand.  A few needles shedding is natural but if a lot of needles are falling off that is an indication the tree is too dried out to bring indoors. 

After you have selected the perfect size tree for your home, it is time to get the tree stand.  Select a heavy duty stand, inexpensive ones can’t typically hold the weight of a large tree and easily tip over.  Cut off one inch of the tree trunk to allow the water to move more freely up into the trunk. Fill the stand with cool water.  There are many home recipes people like to add to the water to prolong the freshness of the tree.  North Carolina Cooperative Extension does not suggest you add anything to the water.  Plain tap water is the best for the life of your cut tree.  Keep a close watch on the level of water in the stand and refill as needed. 

Remember to place your tree in a safe place away from heat vents, fireplaces, drafty areas, and electrical appliances.  Check your light sets for signs of fraying wires or a short.  Never leave your tree lights on if you are not at home. 

The Wilson Extension Master Gardeners are available each Wednesday for gardening questions or more details on holiday plants at 252-237-0113 from 1-3 PM.  You may also get your gardening questions answered via email at

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