Natural Christmas trees are beautiful, and they fill your home with an intoxicating scent. But they can dry out and cause a fire hazard. Here, from George Chapman, master grower at Concord Nurseries in Rochester and Concord, are tips for ensuring that your real Christmas tree lasts longer, doesn’t dry out and is generally safe to have in your house.

• Buy your tree as early in the season as possible. Make sure the tree has a fresh cut at least a third to a half inch off the bottom. Please the tree in a bucket of water outdoors in the shade or in a garage or shed until you’re ready to bring it inside.

• Inside, place your tree in an area that will remain as cool as possible. Keep it away from heat registers, stoves, fireplaces, etc.

• Water your tree. While some people suggest adding some kind of preservative, Chapman says there’s really only one thing the tree needs – “a continuous source of FRESH WATER.”

• Do not allow your tree stand to run dry. The amount of water a tree takes in depends on its size.  Freshly cut trees actually require a lot of water. Check your tree stand daily and refill it.

Consider cutting up your tree after the holidays and using it as a winter mulch for your yard’s perennials. Or you could simply place it in your backyard, where it will provide a nice protective spot for wintering birds.