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Tips on keeping a real Christmas tree alive and from drying out

You'll want to wait before cutting down a real tree so it lasts until Christmas Day.

TAMPA, Fla — It takes time to select the perfect Christmas tree. So, follow these tips to keep your live tree looking luscious and smelling pine fresh through the holiday season!

Good Housekeeping says it starts before you chop down the tree or carry it off the lot.

Tip: Choose a healthy tree. Whether you're chopping it down yourself or choosing a pre-cut live tree, check out the branches inside. The branches should be bright green and feel firm when you run your hands through them. Very few brown needles should fall if you gently shake the tree. Try to choose a tree that's growing or sitting in the shade.

RELATED: Ugly Christmas tree that became a symbol of 2020 gets a facelift in time for the holidays

Once you've selected the perfect tree, taking a few extra steps to get it home could make it last longer. Heather Rhoades with Gardening Know How says to wrap it up!

Tip: Cover the tree, especially the bottom of the trunk, with a blanket or tarp for the drive home. Otherwise, the wind can dry out the tree on the roof of your car as you drive home.

This next tip is especially important if you're buying a live tree from a lot.

Tip: Recut the base of the tree. You'll want to cut off at least 1/4" straight across. Good Housekeeping says live trees on lots may have been cut down days or even a week before it's put out for sale. Giving it a fresh cut makes it easier for the tree to absorb water.

RELATED: Pandemic won't stop NORAD from tracking Santa on Christmas Eve

This leads to the make or break tip to making a live tree lasting through Christmas Day -- keeping it watered.

Tip: Good Housekeeping says you should give the tree one quart of water for every inch of the trunk's diameter. Most gardeners suggest keeping the tree stand filled and checking the water level at least twice a day. And don't worry about adding plant food or chemicals to the water. Gardeners say plain water from the tap will do just fine.

Where you place your tree in your home could also impact how long it lives.

Tip: Gardening Know How suggests keeping your tree out of the path of your heat. Make sure vents are not pointed toward the tree. You may also want to keep the tree away from any windows that get a lot of sunlight.

One final tip -- don't forget to check for critters inside your live tree! You don't want to take any unwanted bugs or animals inside your house. A small owl was just discovered living inside the famous Rockefeller Christmas Tree.

RELATED: Stowaway owl found in Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

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