Thinking of enjoying a Live-Cut Christmas tree during the holiday season this year? Wondering about cutting one from a nearby National Forest?   Be sure to check with the local U.S. Forest Service to see about purchasing a Christmas Tree Permit. According to their website:

  • Tags are $5.00 apiece
  • Each tag is good for one tree
  • Each household is allowed up to 3 tags
  • Christmas tree tags are intended for personal use
  • Permits must be purchased in person from Forest Services offices in Cadillac, Mio, Oscoda and Baldwin. The Huron-Manistee National Forest is the closest forest to S.E. Michigan.
  • Permits are sold from November 1st until the last day offices are open before Christmas
  • For more information about where to cut or how to cut, visit the Huron-Manistee National Forests website.

Additionally, the Forest Service is running a program this year called “Every Kid in a Park” Any 4th grader with a valid “Every Kid in a Park” pass or paper voucher will receive one FREE  Christmas Tree Tag Permit. Visit for more information on applying for one of these passes.

Looking for a local tree farm?

Check out PickYourOwnChristmasTree’s website to find tree farms, tree lots, and locations for other winter fun.

Caring for your live-cut tree

According to the USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region, a “Fireproofing Mixture Recipe” that can be made from common household ingredients will keep a live-cut evergreen tree green and mold-free for the duration of the season.

Fireproofing Mixture Recipe from the U.S. Forest Service/Rocky Mountain Region (Golden, CO)


2 gallons hot water

2 cups corn syrup

2 ounces liquid bleach

2 “2-finger’ pinches Epsom salts

½ cup Borax

1 teaspoon chelated iron (found in garden shops)


  • Recut the end of the tree by 1 inch and let it stand in a bucket of fireproofing mixture until ready to bring it indoors. It’s a good idea to make another 1” cut at the bottom of the trunk, just before putting the tree into the stand. Once indoors, fill the tree stand reservoir with the rest of the solution so the pores of the trunk don’t seal.

  • The tree will “drink” many GALLONS of water for the duration. It’s very important to check the water level several times a day to begin with, and always make sure there is water in the reservoir both morning and evening.

  • Be sure to locate the live tree away from heat sources such as space heaters, stoves, and televisions, because the heat from these electronics work to dry out the tree faster than normal.

The corn syrup provides sugar, which allows the tree to soak up enormous amounts of water. Without the sugar, only a small amount of water is absorbed into the branches and needles. The tree will soak up 1 ½ gallons of the recipe during the 10- to 14-day period it is up. This is approximately 800% more water than it would have absorbed growing in the forest.

The boron (in the borax) makes the water and sugar move to every needle of the tree. The Epsom salts and chelated iron provide magnesium sulfate that facilitates the process of chlorophyll production, keeping its needles green. Bleach stops mold from forming when water and sugar stand for a period of time.

More care tips for live-cut evergreen trees can be found on the National Christmas Tree Association’s website.