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Care Tips for Your Fresh-Cut Tree

To maintain maximum freshness, place the base of the fresh-cut tree in water as soon as possible.  If the tree will not be placed in a stand within 6-8 hours, a bucket with water will suffice (in order to keep the tree base submerged).  Water temperature is unimportant.

If more than 6-8 hours should pass without water, it is beneficial to slice about half an inch from the bottom of the trunk.  This will remove sap that has accumulated and allow increased water absorption.  When cutting the trunk, remember that a clean cut perpendicular to the axis of the trunk is the most effective cut.  Cutting the stump at an angle or in a v-shape is not recommended, as this increases the difficulty of holding the tree in the stand and reduces water absorption.  Note that bark on the trunk should not be removed.  

Once the final cut has been made, the stump should stay clean.  When set in a stand, the water level should be monitored daily.  Large trees may drink up to a gallon on the first day and a quart on subsequent days.
Your tree will stay fresh longer when sources of heat are minimized.  Place the tree away from fireplaces, heat registers, and direct sunlight.  Reducing room temperature also reduces drying of the tree, thereby lowering water consumption.  Lights that produce low heat will minimize tree drying.  

Tree lights should be inspected before decorating the tree, and worn strings of lights should be replaced.  Tree lights should be shut off at bedtime or when leaving the house.  

Sources: National Christmas Tree Association & Michigan Christmas Tree Association