How To Care For Your Live Christmas Tree In 9 Easy Steps

Beautiful branches of spruce with young needles. Christmas tree in nature. Blue spruce close-up.

‘Tis the season to be jolly. December is one of the most magical times of the year where we decorate our homes with lights, wreaths, stockings, and of course a Christmas tree. You can find many different shapes and sizes of cut trees at local garden centers.

This year you might consider getting a live Christmas tree. These trees have the roots intact and can be planted after the holidays. A live tree takes a little more care but it is well worth the effort.

Caring For Your Live Christmas Tree

Work in the garden. Man digs a hole to plant a tree.

Step 1

Dig a hole now, before the ground is frozen, where your tree will live after Christmas is over. You will not need to plant it immediately; the hole will be a spot to set it until spring.

Potted evergreen small Christmas fir tree near house, holidays decor

Step 2

Keep your tree outside, but out of the wind and out of the direct sun.

woman watering a fir tree

Step 3

Keep the roots moist with snow if we have it or just give it some water. Coldwater, not warm from the tap. Sounds silly, but it makes a difference.

Loving African American father with little son decorating Christmas tree

Step 4

Limit its time indoors to as short a period as humanly possible. One week to ten days is recommended, for lights, decorations, and presents. Put a tray or saucer under it and pile ice cubes on the top of its root-ball. The ice will melt and water the tree slowly with cold dripping water. Check the ice every day to make sure the tree stays hydrated while in the house. If it is too dry, water it.

A cozy living room lighted with numerous lights decorated ready to celebrate Christmas. Christmas room interior design, Xmas tree decorated by lights, candles and garland lighting indoors fireplace.

Step 5

Just like with cut trees, your live tree will be healthiest away from heat vents, drafts, and out of direct southwest facing windows. Or pull the blinds shut during the day.

Country barn with holiday wreath in after fresh snowfall.

Step 6

You will need a transition zone for your tree that is not freezing but cooler than indoors. An unheated garage, barn, or some other outbuilding that will not freeze. While your yule tree is inside, it will begin to “wake-up”. It will be important to ease your tree back into the outdoors, by using this transition zone.

Garden shed during winter

Step 7

After Christmas, put it out into its transition zone for another week, then it can go outside. If it goes straight from inside conditions to outside temperatures, it will shock and suffer damage.

Decorated with red bows and balls Christmas trees in pots near old house

Step 8

If you have not dug a hole for it in advance, keep it in its pot, out of the wind and sun, and out from under eves of the house where water dripping can form into ice and damage the tree. Snow is usually protective and not a concern. If the tree is exposed and we have no snow for more than a month, you can water it with cold water as needed.

Young magnificent Christmas tree without decoration on green lawn,

Step 9

When spring arrives and the soil is workable again, you will plant your tree as you would any new tree.

Gift certificates for Christmas

Caring for your live Christmas tree is important. A healthy, vibrant tree is the centerpiece for your holiday decorations. Re-planting allows you to enjoy your Christmas tree for years. You might even want to add outdoor lights to your tree the following holiday.

Want to add a splash of color this Christmas? Check out our Easy Guide to Growing Amaryllis.

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