How to Care for Your Living Christmas Tree

Here's how to help ensure that your living Christmas tree will thrive for years to come.
Related To:
Small Christmas Tree

Small Christmas Tree

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

The best strategy for keeping your living Christmas tree alive and well is to keep it cool and well-watered and to limit the amount of time it spends indoors. Here's how to help ensure your Christmas tree will be around next year.

Do your research. Select a tree that's right for your climate, soil and light conditions. If you plan on keeping it in a pot outdoors for more than a season, be sure to select a variety that's hardy to two zones colder than your climate.
Buy early. Most nurseries will tag and hold trees until you're ready to bring them home.
Put the tree in a transition zone. Two weeks before Christmas, put the tree in a garage for about a week to allow for acclimation to an indoor environment. Keep it watered, but don't overdo it.
Move the tree indoors. A few days before Christmas, move the tree to a spot with filtered light, but well away from drafts and heater vents; a cool location is best. Be sure it gets all the water it needs.
Limit the size of bulbs. Christmas lights don't pose a serious threat to plants; depending on the types of lights and how you use them, however, they can cause some minor damage. Large bulbs can create enough heat to actually burn leaf surfaces, so use only light strands that come with tiny bulbs.
Move the tree back to the garage. A few days after Christmas, put the tree back in the garage. No matter what, don't leave the tree inside the house for more than a week to 10 days.
Plant the tree outdoors. If the ground freezes in your area, consider digging the planting hole in the fall and covering it with leaves. Otherwise, just dig your hole, add amendments to the soil if necessary, plant the tree and water it well. Make sure potted trees are in pots large enough to provide some insulation from the cold, and keep them watered well.

Next Up

Make Evergreen Tree Holiday Party Favors

Leave guests with a green that they can plant and watch grow. These evergreen seedling party favors will grow into full-sized Christmas trees in the right conditions, like full sun and room to thrive.

How to Grow a Bay Tree

Season your garden with this culinary and ornamental delight.

How to Make Boxwood Christmas Topiaries

Turn boxwood clippings into DIY holiday topiaries to flank a fireplace mantel, bring some life to a holiday tablescape or add height to a buffet table.

How to Make a Boxwood Christmas Wreath

Why settle for plastic evergreen wreaths or natural greens that will dry out in a few weeks? Make a preserved boxwood wreath that will keep its good looks throughout the holidays and beyond.

Outdoor Holiday Decorating Idea: Mini Christmas Tree

Spread the holiday cheer to your front porch with this easy-to-decorate mini Christmas tree. A few handmade touches make it special.

How to Make a Boxwood Kissing Ball

A Christmas tradition, the kissing ball, can be made out of more than just mistletoe. Use preserved boxwood sprigs, magnolia leaves or even fresh evergreens to create this holiday party decoration.

How to Decorate With Fresh-Cut Greenery Indoors

The holidays are the ideal time to bring elements of the garden indoors.

Keep a Tree for Life

Recycle your Christmas tree by potting it on and enjoying it on your patio throughout summer. Then bring it back inside for a second or even third season before planting it outside in the ground.

How to Make a Fabric and Evergreen Holiday Swag

Instead of a traditional evergreen Christmas wreath, dress up your front door with a holiday swag made from fresh greenery, fabric branches and glittering pinecones.

Christmas Cranberry Topiary

Learn how to recreate this beautiful decoration, inspired by the White House, for your own home.

1,000+ Photos

Browse beautiful photos of our favorite outdoor spaces: decks, patios, porches and more.

On TV

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.