Unlike an artificial tree which you can put up and then ignore (and which will continue to exist in a landfill for 1000's of years after you're gone!), a real Christmas tree is a living plant which requires daily watering in order to stay fresh throughout the Christmas season. In return for your daily care, your tree will contribute oxygen, improved indoor air quality, and a fantastic natural smell to your home!
Here are some things to keep in mind when caring for your live Christmas tree:
1 - As soon as you get home, get your tree into water, even if its just a bucket of water with the tree propped up against a wall. If it's been more than a few hours since you cut your tree you will want to consider making a fresh cut across the bottom of the trunk so that it can absorb water well.
2 - If you don't intend to put your tree up right away, store it in a cool, sheltered, and shaded area of your home like a porch or garage. Keeping it in a warm, sunny, or windy place will shorten its life.
3 - When you're ready to bring your tree indoors to set up, particularly if the water in the bucket has dried up, make a straight cut across the trunk of the tree, approximately 1" from the end. This re-opens the stem of the tree so it can absorb water well.
4 - Set up your tree in a good quality stand which holds plenty of water. Trees can be very thirsty depending on the environment in your home and may require 2-4L of water every day. If the water level drops below the bottom of the tree the tree trunk may seal over again which prevents it from absorbing water sufficiently and will reduce the longevity and freshness of your tree.
5 - Some people find that watering their tree with sugar water or gingerale prolongs the life of the tree. Commercial water conditioners to keep a tree fresh longer can also be purchased from hardware stores. This is not something we have ever done here at Rising Sun Farm but you're welcome to try it!
6 - A well watered tree will be moist and lush but a tree that is allowed to become dry can be a fire hazard. Keep your tree a safe distance from heat sources, consider covering any heat vents that are next to or under the tree, and turn off your Christmas tree lights whenever you are away from home or asleep. If your home is very dry you may need additional water.
7 - Ensure that anything electrical you use on or around the tree is in good condition (no frayed wires etc) to reduce the fire hazard and avoid open flames near and on your tree.
8 - When you are done with your tree, consider giving it back to nature. Mix peanut butter with bird seed until you can form it into balls, take your tree to a corner of the yard and decorate it with the peanut butter/bird seed balls so that it can provide food and shelter for birds, rabbits etc until warmer Spring weather arrives. Feel free to add cut up fruit that has been languishing in your fruit bowl over the holidays ;) If you need the space back in your yard in the Spring, consider taking your tree to the local landfill where they can chip it up to decompose quickly.