How to keep your Christmas tree fresh through the holidays

A twinkling Christmas tree in your living room is a sure sign that the holiday season has begun. But just like houseplants, a Christmas tree needs a little love and attention to look its best.

And no one wants a floor covered in needles or ornaments drooping sadly on the branches.

Don't worry if your busy calendar leaves little time for plant care—evergreens are low-maintenance. Read on to find three simple adjustments the pros recommend to ensure your tree is as full and green after three weeks as it was the day you brought it home. Now all you need are the perfect decorations.

Make a Fresh Cut A tree from your local stand has likely been there awhile, and after a few days, a cut trunk’s pores seal up with sap, says Rick Bates, a professor of horticulture at Penn State University. Saw a quarter-inch off the bottom of the trunk when you get the tree home so that it’s ready to absorb water.

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Choose a Cool Spot The secret to avoiding needles all over your floor: Set up the tree away from fireplaces, heaters, heat vents, and even direct sunlight—heat speeds up the drying process. Even better, lower the room temperature a few degrees.

Keep It Hydrated Freshly cut Christmas trees are thirsty—they can drink up to a gallon of water a day, says senior research editor Mare-Anne Jarvela at The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Make sure your stand can hold enough liquid and keep it full at all times, checking the water level daily.