It’s that time of year again and this year you’ve decided to go with a fresh live Christmas tree. And so whether you’re purchasing your Christmas tree at a garden center or cutting your own at a tree farm,  we at Modern Foliage wanted to make sure you had the tips and tools you’ll need to keep your fresh tree going all through the holidays.

First things first; have all your tools ready before shopping for your tree. These include a tree stand that can hold at least a gallon of water for trees whose trunks are 4” in diameter, or one that holds a few quarts of water for smaller trees. Know what size stand you have before purchasing a tree. Some older stands are not deep enough to hold enough water for larger trees. You will also need to have purchased a Disposal Bag. Yes, you purchase that beforehand. And lastly, a small hand saw or chainsaw.

Pick out a tree whose branches are pliable and when you grab a branch at the base and slide your hand towards the end, the needles should stay on the branch. The tree should be a dark green color as lighter greyer tones may mean  your tree has dried out at some point. 

When you get your tree home, keep the netting on the tree. It will make it easier to maneuver once it’s time to move it indoors. Now using your hand saw, give your tree a fresh cut ½” – 1” from the bottom of the trunk and place it immediately into a bucket of water. You can clean up any scraggly lower branches at this time. Waiting too long to submerge the trunk in water will allow the tree’s sap to form a thick barrier preventing any and all water absorption. Keep the tree outdoors in a protected area while you prepare the area indoors where the tree will be displayed. Allowing the tree a day to absorb enough moisture in the cool temps, keeping the bucket full, will help give it a proper start.

Now clear the area where the tree will go. Give it a wide berth. Close off all vents that will blow air directly onto the tree as the warm air will cause your tree to dry out. Next, you need to place your tree stand. Have a gallon of water on standby. Place your disposal bag down. That way, at the end of the season, you only need to lift the back up and over your tree. You can use it as a skirt or place a more decorative skirt over top of the disposal bag. Now you are ready to bring your tree inside.

Place the tree into the stand. Secure it and immediately fill the stand with water. Fresh trees can absorb a gallon of water easily on the first day. Make sure to never let the stand dry out. Keep it constantly full the entire time the tree remains indoors on display. Remove the netting and using sharp bypass hand pruners if you have them, shape the tree. Now you’re ready to add lights and decorations.

There are plenty of items on the market nowadays that make keeping your Christmas tree stand full of water without having  to crawl under your tree each day. Making the task simpler for you will help ensure it never runs out of water. In addition to keeping your tree submerged in water, having a humidifier running in the room will help prevent the needles from drying out. This is just an added protection but should not substitute checking the water levels every single day.


Throughout the weeks indoors, your needles should never be dry. Losing a few here and there is normal but brown tips or losing too many needles shows that your tree isn’t absorbing water properly. If the tree stand is still full of water, you will need to lift the tree from the stand and give it a fresh cut. If the tree does not improve, you’ll have to dispose of the tree as it poses a definite fire risk.

Happy Holidays from all of us at Modern Foliage.

Missi Lackas, blog writer for Modern Foliage Designs.

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