Christmas trees for sale at the Gretzinger Christmas Tree Lot.

Real tree tips from the owners of Gretzinger’s Christmas Tree Lot

How much water, and when? Get suggestions from the experts


Brooks is a former associate editor; Kenosha News sports, news, and business reporter; and former Kenosha resident. He was mayor of South Milwaukee from 2014 to 2021. He currently leads Carl Collective, a marketing and strategic communications firm in Milwaukee.

The Gretzinger family has learned a little bit about Christmas trees in its four generations in the tree selling business. 

Here are some pointers for the rest of us.

For starters, “it has to fit in their room,” said Debbie Gretzinger Frost, third-generation owner of Gretzinger’s Christmas Tree Lot, profiled on last week. “People have their own style. There are people who want a short, fat one, a tall, skinny one. Yesterday, somebody said, ‘I’d like a tree that looks like a (Hershey’s) Kiss, and she got a short, fat one. And it’s your decorating style, too.

“Just like flowers, it needs a fresh cut. And you don’t want your stand to go dry because if it goes dry, it’s also like flowers, the bottom can seal off. 

“And use just plain old water. You never want to peel the bark on the tree to fit it into the tree stand because 90 percent of the moisture goes right under the bark.”

Getting the right stand helps, too, one with a large water reservoir. 

Said Elliott Rezny, fourth generation seller: “It really should hold a few gallons of water, at least two, three for the really big ones, because those trees, especially the big ones, will take up two gallons of water in a day. Check the water twice a day for the first couple of weeks, and if the water level ever goes below the bottom of the tree, it will seal right up and won’t take any more water. Most trees will seal up on their own after three or four weeks.

“They also don’t like direct sunlight or forced air blowing on them. We will close our vents around the tree when we put it up. I use the overhead fan a lot.”

Learn more from the Wisconsin Christmas Tree Producers Association