FIRST THINGS FIRST
Once you get your tree home, place it in water as soon as possible. Most species can go 6 to 8 hours after cutting the trunk and still take up water. Don't bruise the cut surface or get it dirty. If needed, trees can be temporarily stored for several days in a cool location. Place the freshly cut trunk in a bucket that is kept full of water.
CUTTING THE TREE TRUNK
Make a fresh cut to remove about a 1/2-inch thick disk of wood from the base of the trunk. Make the cut perpendicular to the stem axis. Don't cut the trunk at an angle, or into a v-shape, this reduces the amount of water available to the tree. Avoid whittling the sides of the trunk down to fit a stand. The outer layers of wood are the most efficient in taking up water and should not be removed.
THE TREE STAND
Use a stand with an adequate water holding capacity. As a general rule, stands should provide 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter. Displaying trees in water in a traditional reservoir type stand is the most effective way of maintaining their freshness and minimizing needle loss. Devices are available that help maintain a constant water level in the stand.
WATERING YOUR TREE
The temperature of the water used to fill the stand is not important and does not affect water uptake. Check the stand daily to make sure that the water level does not go below the base of the tree. With many stands, there can still be water in the bottom of the stand but the base of the tree is no longer submerged.
HEAT AND ROOM CLIMATE
Keep displayed trees away from sources of heat (fireplaces, heaters, heat vents, direct sunlight). Lowering the room temperature will slow the drying process, resulting in less water consumption each day.
Use lights that produce low heat, such as miniature lights, this will reduce drying of the tree. Always inspect light sets prior to placing them on the tree. If worn, replace with a new set. Do not overload electrical circuits and turn off the tree lights when leaving the house or when going to bed.