To keep real Christmas trees from drying out in Florida, buy early, water often

Maureen Kenyon
Treasure Coast

Drop an aspirin in the water. Drill a hole in the base of the trunk. Don't get it early or it'll dry out.

Put those old wives' tales on the naughty list because the truth is, keeping a Christmas tree fresh in Florida is pretty simple: Buy it early and water it often.

"We like to recommend you buy (a tree) right after Thanksgiving," said Michael Songer, past president of the Florida Christmas Tree Association and owner of the 15-acre Songer's Christmas Tree Farm in Middleburg, about 26 miles southwest of Jacksonville.

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There are more than 20 Christmas tree farms in Florida, according to the association, and most are "choose-and-cut," Songer said. Good news: Most of the farms also supply saws.

"We try to make it an experience," he said. "It smells good out in the tree field, and the kids can run around and have fun."

It doesn't matter if it grew in Florida or if it grew in Michigan and was shipped to Florida. If a fresh Christmas tree is properly cared for, it will last through the holidays.

"After a fresh cut, take it home and get it (in) water right away. That's the main thing," Songer said. "Keep water on the tree and don't let it go dry. That way, (the cut) doesn't seal off at the bottom."

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It is all about that fresh cut, said Steve Campbell, who works for Tree Towne, a family-owned Christmas tree business with locations from Wellington to Stuart. On the Treasure Coast, it's at 2200 N.W. Federal Highway.

Once they're unloaded, the trees get a fresh cut, Campbell said. Then they're placed on display in a bucket of water.

"That way, the tree is already drinking," he said.

Once a tree is purchased, it gets another cut and is netted, Campbell said.

"Customers are home within half an hour, set it in the stand and dump water in, so it's only without water for about an hour," he said. "That fresh cut makes it start drinking again."

The water level should remain about 1 inch below the top of the stand.

In a few weeks, if it looks like the water level isn't changing, don't worry. The tree still is drinking, Campbell said.

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[ Keep scrolling to find out how to care for a fresh Christmas tree. ]

The most popular Christmas tree — and the heartiest — is the Fraser fir. Other popular Christmas trees include the Douglas fir, blue spruce and scotch pine.

Trees are shipped in from North Carolina, Colorado, Oregon, Michigan and Washington, Campbell said. There's even one from eastern Canada, a concolor fir, also known as the white fir.

"The Canadian trees seem to work well," he said. "We plan to get some more."

For more information about Tree Towne's Christmas trees, go to For more information about "choose-and-cut" tree farms in Florida, go to

All Tree Towne locations open Wednesday, and Songer's Christmas Tree Farms opens Friday.

How to care for a fresh Christmas tree

  • Make a fresh cut — perpendicular to the stem axis — to remove about a ½-inch thick disk of wood from the base of the trunk. 
  • Use a stand with an adequate water-holding capacity. Stands should provide 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter.
  • Place the tree in water as soon as possible. Don't bruise the cut surface or get it dirty.
  • Check the stand daily to make sure the water level does not go below the base of the tree. With many stands, there still can be water in the stand even though the tree's base is no longer submerged in water.
  • Keep trees away from major sources of heat such as fireplaces, heaters, heat vents and direct sunlight. Lowering the room temperature will slow the drying process, resulting in less water consumption each day.

SOURCE: National Christmas Tree Association

Maureen Kenyon is TCPalm's trends reporter, keeping Treasure Coast residents updated on hot topics and happenings. Do you have a story to tell? Want to start a conversation? Send an email to, call 772-221-4249 or follow her on Twitter @_MaureenKenyon_.