If you're buying a real Christmas tree this year, there are some things you should keep in mind to prevent if from drying out before New Year's Day.

(Evan Sharboneau, ThinkStock)
(Evan Sharboneau, ThinkStock)

Trees that might have been precut in October and transported in refrigerated trucks will definitely need fresh one-inch trims from the base, said Donna A. Cole, executive secretary of the New Jersey Christmas Tree Growers Association and owner of Cole's Country Tree Farm in Alexandria Township, Hunterdon County.

"The sap has already sealed the base of the trunk and will not drink any water, and the needles will dry out and fall off way, way sooner if not already," Cole said.

Cole said needles should not fall off the branches when you run your hand across them.

For those cutting down a tree at a farm this year, Cole said Douglas and Fraser firs are the most popular.

"The firs have better needle retention and they're also more fragrant," she said.

Norway Spruces, like the tree on display at Rockefeller Center in New York City this year, also are popular. But Cole cautioned, "the spruces may have the ability to hold heavier ornaments, they're a little stronger, but their needle retention is not as great."

Another thing to keep in mind, according to Cole, is that a tree out in a field might appear to be much smaller, but in reality is much larger once inside.

A Christmas tree should be placed away from a heat source, such as a radiator, vent or fireplace to prevent it from drying out, and while the jury is still out on whether adding aspirin or sugar to the water in the stand can help keep it fresh, Cole said "the most important thing is water."

She said a tree will drink between 2 pints and 1 gallon of water per day.

"You don't want the water level to go below the end of the tree stump. The sap will seal it over and it will have no longer the ability to intake the water," Cole said.

Contact reporter Dianne DeOliveira at Dianne.DeOliveira@townsquaremedia.com.

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