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How to care for your Christmas tree

If you're rockin' around the real Christmas tree this year, there are a few steps you'll want to take to make sure it lasts through December.

TAMPA, Fla. — What's Christmas without a tree? Well, if you're setting up a real Christmas tree in your home this year, you'll want to make sure it actually lives to see Christmas Day. 

Below are some tips from Purdue University's Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Selection

Whether you're curing down your own tree or having a tree farm do it for you, size matters, a lot. When you're looking at a tree outside, it may not seem that big. However, once it's brought inside, what seemed to be medium-sized could end up looking giant in your home. 

Recutting

If you have a freshly-cut tree that has been sitting out for six to eight hours without water, you'll need to cut another half-inch or so before putting it in water. According to Purdue, when a tree is cut and exposed to air, the cells become blocked from water uptake. When you recut the end, the tree is then able to take in water. 

Tree Stands

Stands can be made from all kinds of materials, from plastic to metal, or even concrete. Purdue experts suggest looking for a tree stand that is stable, has adequate water capacity, and is easy to set up. Many tree farms sell stands and can help you pick out the right size for your tree. 

Tree Care

Once you have your tree all set up and decorated, the work is far from over. Keep the tree away from any sources of heat like fireplaces, warm-air floor vents, and hot lights. Heat will cause the tree to dry out and if unchecked, can become a fire hazard. Lowering the room temperature can also help the tree live longer. 

Next, you'll want to make sure your tree stand has plenty of water. Purdue experts say a seven-foot tree can easily use two quarts of water a day for the first week. Over time, trees will slow down on the water consumption, but it's good to always keep your stand filled with cool water. 

Pets

Throughout the Christmas season, your tree will dop needles along the way. If you have any pets, the needs are indigestible, PetMD says. If you have a dog, the needles can be mildly toxic depending on how much is eaten and the dog's size. Fir tree oils can also irritate dogs' mouths and stomachs and can cause vomiting. 

Tree Disposal

Once Christmas passes, you may be wondering what to do with your tree. Purdue recommends putting large plastic bags over the tree before moving it. For large trees, cut the tree into smaller parts, then bag and remove the pieces individually. Then it's time to sweep the floor of any remaining needles, and start the new year! 

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