While Christmas trees in the home or office are no longer growing, they still need almost as much water as if they were, according to OSU Ag Communication Services. Keeping the focal point of your Christmas decorations fresh and beautiful is simple, if a few important steps are taken.

“The minute you cut the tree, it’s not alive anymore,” said Craig McKinley, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension forestry specialist. “From then on, all you’re trying to do is prevent its degradation. You’re not going to improve its quality.”

A fresh Christmas tree can stay healthy for several weeks if given the proper care.

“When you get the tree home, cut about an inch off of the butt end to aid in water absorption,” said David Hillock, OSU Extension consumer horticulture specialist. “Get the cut end into a container of plain water quickly. There is no need to add aspirin, sugar or flame retardant to the water.”

Not making the initial cut prior to setting up the tree could be detrimental as the biggest key to keeping a Christmas tree “happy” is keeping it moist. After squaring off the new base of the tree, immediately put it in the tree stand, which should have a large water reservoir.

McKinley said the water movement through the tree is a physical process, as the loss of water through the leaves or needles creates a vacuum that sucks up water through the stem. Plenty of water is needed as a freshly cut tree can take in more than a gallon of water per day for the first few days.

It is virtually impossible to give your tree too much water, so just keep the reservoir full. McKinley said it is vital that the reservoir not be allowed to go dry because once the “vacuum” is broken, the tree may not be able to create enough suction to get the water going again.

The placement of a Christmas tree also will affect its lifespan. Hillock suggests avoiding heating vents, as they will dry the tree out more quickly. Anything in the house that could produce any type of heat will increase the evaporation of water in the tree and lead to its early demise.

Also, pruning the tree is not a bad idea. Many people will prune trees to get the shape they are looking for or to create a little more space underneath the tree for gifts.

“Make sure you know where the limb is going before you cut it,” McKinley said. “Some species of tree can have limbs that start at the bottom of the tree and extend several feet up.”

By following these simple tips, a Christmas tree can stay beautiful throughout the holidays.