How do you water a christmas tree

How to Make a Real Christmas Tree Last Longer

If you celebrate Christmas, you know there's nothing like having a real Christmas tree in your home. The adventure of heading to your local Christmas tree farm, picking out the perfect fir, pine or spruce, then bringing it home is half the fun — but the magic really begins once your tree is all dressed up for the holidays.

To keep your tree's sparkle alive for as long as possible indoors, the home care experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute have rounded up our best tips for making sure that your tree is still looking fresh come Christmas morning.

How long do real Christmas trees last?

With proper care, most real Christmas trees should last at least five weeks or more.

That means, if you decorate for Christmas in late November, your tree should easily survive beyond the holiday festivities. However, we suggest buying your Christmas tree during the first week of December to ensure you aren't left with a dried up, brittle tree come December 25.

How to keep a Christmas tree alive for longer

Follow our tips to keep your Christmas tree looking fresh long after it's cut.


1. Start with a healthy Christmas tree from a local farm.

    If you buy your tree from a garden store or roadside lot, it's likely that it came from out-of-state and has been exposed to drying winds in transit — meaning, it's going to have a much shorter shelf life than one that you've chopped down yourself at a local tree farm. Either way, it's essential to know how to choose the freshest possible Christmas tree.

    Keep these tips in mind as you hunt for you Christmas tree:

    • Look for a healthy, green tree with the least amount of brown needles.
    • Select a tree displayed in a shady location. Avoid picking from a sunny area.
    • Run a few branches through your hands. The needles should feel pliable and not fall off.
    • Raise the tree a few inches, then drop the trunk into the ground. Very few green needles should fall off (but it's fine if the tree loses a few brown ones).

    2. Trim the trunk (and then trim it again).

    When you purchase a Christmas tree, double-check that the seller makes a fresh cut straight across the base of the trunk to aid water absorption. This gets rid of any dried-over resin that might block the tree from absorbing water.

    When you get home, if you're not putting your tree up right away, place it in a bucket of water. (Note that you should always store real trees in an unheated garage or area that's protected from wind and freezing temperatures.)

    When you're ready to bring it inside, make another one-inch cut off the bottom of the trunk to help with water absorption.

    Rike_//Getty Images

    3. Check the water level of your Christmas tree daily.

    Once inside, place your tree in a sturdy stand that holds at least one gallon of water. Then don't forget to regularly water your Christmas tree — too little can cause resin to form, which means the tree won't absorb water and it will dry out quickly.

    Much more is at risk than just aesthetics — a dry Christmas tree can pose a real danger to your home. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that between 2015 and 2019, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 160 home fires started by Christmas trees each year. It can take less than 30 seconds for a dry tree to burn down most of your living room — but that's not the case with a watered Christmas tree.

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    So how much water does your tree need? "Your stand should have a water reservoir that can hold one quart of water for every inch of the trunk's diameter," advises Rachel Rothman, the Good Housekeeping Institute's executive technical director. Just remember to check the water level daily and refill as needed — it should always cover the bottom two inches of the trunk.

    Even though you've heard people talk about adding things like bleach, corn syrup, aspirin, and sugar to the water, we believe tree preservatives and additives are probably unnecessary. Most experts agree that plenty of clean water is all you need to keep a tree fresh.

    EXPERT TIP: If you lower the temperature in the room, it can also help slow down the drying process (and therefore result in your tree requiring a bit less water), according to the National Christmas Tree Association.

    4. Keep the Christmas tree away from heat sources.

    Sure, there's nothing more lovely than a beautifully decorated Christmas tree beside a roaring fireplace — but, along with frayed Christmas lights, candles, radiators, air ducts and stoves, a regularly used fireplace could contribute to your tree drying out at a much quicker pace. Plus, the NFPA reports that nearly 1/5 of Christmas tree fires are caused by a tree being too close to a heat source.

    If your home is prone to dryness, try using a top-rated humidifier to add moisture to the room. The Good Housekeeping Institute Tech Lab recommends the Levoit Ultrasonic Humidifier for large areas (like the living room!). It performed well in our tests and can add enough moisture to the air to keep your tree fresh longer.

    5. Take your tree down

    before it dries out.

    If you wait too long to take down your Christmas tree, you'll just end up with more dead pine needles to deal with. The easiest way to clean up fallen needles is by using your vacuum's hose — skip the fancy attachments and just use the end of the hose to draw needles directly into the bag or canister.

    When you're officially done with your tree, you have a couple options: You can start a new compost pile with it, recycle it or turn it into mulch yourself. You can also ask your town about what types of disposal options it offers, if you're looking for a more eco-friendly solution.

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    Carolyn FortéHome Care & Cleaning Lab Executive Director

    Carolyn Forté brings more than 40 years of experience as a consumer products expert to her role as executive director of the Good Housekeeping Institute's Home Care and Cleaning Lab. Using deep analytical testing and writing expertise in appliances, cleaning, textiles and organizational products, she produces cleaning and home care advice for GH, has authored numerous books and bookazines for the brand and partners with the American Cleaning Institute to co-produce the Discover Cleaning Summits. She holds a bachelor's degree in family and consumer sciences from Queens College, City University of New York.

    This content is imported from OpenWeb. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

    How to Care for Your Christmas Tree

    Choosing the best stand and watering your evergreen correctly (and enough!) will extend its lifespan.

    christmas tree surrounded by gifts and holiday decorations

    Credit: THOMAS LOOF

    During the hustle and bustle of the holidays, staying hydrated is key to maintaining your glow—especially if you're a Christmas tree. Unfortunately, many of us have thirsty tannenbaums. "Most people are surprised to learn that they're not properly watering their trees," says Tim O'Connor, executive director of the National Christmas Tree Association, a trade organization representing more than 700 farms.

    Want to keep your evergreen looking, well, evergreen? Follow these expert Christmas tree care tips, which range from starting with a heathy tree to choosing the correct stand and watering appropriately.

    Start With a Healthy Tree

    First things first: Make sure you bring home a happy, healthy tree. "No matter what type of tree you select, you want the needles to be green and supple and the branches to be pliable," says O'Connor. "If it's already dry, it's not going to last long." Ask the nursery owner or lot attendant when the trees were delivered. While some sellers receive all of their trees at once, others will have shipments scheduled throughout the season. Ideally, you want a tree from the most recent delivery.

    To test the tree, run a branch through your hand. If the needles fall off or if the branch seems brittle, move on—the tree is already too dry. Other signs of a dry or deteriorating tree include wrinkled bark, discolored needles, and a musty odor.

    Make a Fresh Cut

    To ensure that your tree can properly drink, you'll want to make a fresh cut to the trunk. So, before placing your tree in water, use a saw to remove a half-inch-thick disk of wood from the base of the trunk. Don't cut the trunk into a V-shape or drill a hole into the base—despite what you may have heard, this will make it harder for your tree to absorb water, not easier.

    After cutting your tree, place it in a bucket of water or a water-filled tree stand as soon as possible, advises O'Connor. Most species can go six to eight hours after a trunk cut and still take up water, but sooner is better.

    Select the Right Stand

    Not all Christmas tree stands were created equal. To help keep your tree well hydrated, select a quality stand that is large enough to provide 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter. And don't whittle down a large tree to fit into a smaller stand—the outer layers of the wood are the best at absorbing water.

    Water Regularly

    Before you make your morning coffee, make it a habit to serve your tree some fresh water. "You should really be watering your tree daily," says O'Connor. "Especially during the first seven to ten days, which is when they take up the most water." For a standard size tree with a trunk diameter in the 5-inch range, you'll want to maintain at least 5 quarts of water in your stand each day. That said, there's no harm in refilling your stand to capacity—trees know their holiday drinking limits, so err on the side of extra.

    Also make sure that the trunk is submerged in the water—depending on how low the tree sits in the stand, it could be floating above the water level. And if you have a history of neglecting houseplants, consider also investing in a water monitor that will beep when it's time to refill your stand.

    Avoid Additives

    Don't use additives in the water, advises O'Connor. While your florist may recommend plant food for cut flowers, trees only require clean water.

    Monitor for Dryness

    While the temperature of the water doesn't matter, the temperature of the air does. Heat will cause your tree to dry out prematurely, so avoid placing it near a vent or radiator if possible. If you have to place it near a heat source, check the water levels more frequently.

    Monitor your tree for dryness, too. If the needles begin to shed excessively or are dry and brittle to the touch, it's time to remove the tree from your house, as it could become a fire hazard. With proper watering, most trees will stay healthy for four to six weeks, says O'Connor.

    How to keep the Christmas tree fresh longer after purchase - Articles


    • How to care for a Christmas tree?
    • How to keep your Christmas tree fresh before installation
    • Christmas tree installation
    • Water supply to the shaft
    • Caring for the tree after installation
    • Christmas trees in a pot
    • What to do with the Christmas tree after the holidays?

    How to care for a Christmas tree?

    Everyone who would like to buy a real live Christmas tree for the New Year thought about how long the Christmas tree will last at home, and how many days before the holiday you need to buy it?

    We answer - the life of Christmas trees, firs and pines is different, but none of them will stay warm in your house for more than two weeks.

    Russian and Norwegian Christmas trees begin to crumble after about 5-7 days, pines stand a few days longer, firs do not crumble, but gradually dry out and change the color of the needles, it becomes paler. For more information about the properties of New Year trees, in our article "Types of New Year Trees."

    This applies, of course, to trees already unpacked and installed in a warm room. However, it is possible to buy spruce long before the New Year and keep it fresh for the holiday, up to a month or more. We'll show you how.

    Christmas tree in the interior

    How to keep your Christmas tree fresh before installation

    The first thing to do is to decide on the date when you need it, already beautiful and dressed up. We recommend installing Danish Spruce, Fraser Fir, Canadian Pine 5-7 days in advance, and Russian and Norwegian Christmas Trees 3-5 days in advance.

    All the time until this moment, it is better for the tree to stay in a cool place, at a temperature not higher than 5-10 degrees Celsius, with a minimum amount of light and, preferably, with high humidity.

    The key to success is to reduce the amount of moisture evaporated from the plant. For this purpose, a garage or an unheated balcony is perfect. In our experience, there was a case when the Christmas tree remained green and fresh even six months after purchase. And one of our employees set up a Christmas tree on March 8, as an unusual gift for loved ones.

    By the way, live Fraser fir comes to Russia from North America, from where it is transported for 45 days in cold stores across the ocean, with a minimum amount of light and with 100% humidity.

    This does not affect its quality in any way, since Fraser Fir is considered the highest quality Christmas tree that can be bought in our country for the New Year: it stands for a very long time, does not crumble at all, and the branches of this fir are so strong that they can withstand even very heavy toys and real candlesticks.

    Tree seedlings

    Christmas tree installation

    The cut Christmas tree begins to dry out only from the moment it gets into heat and the process of “drying” begins, the evaporation of moisture from the needles, so after installing the Christmas tree, you need to provide it with a regular supply of water to the trunk, and cool, humid air.

    A place for a Christmas tree is suitable away from open flames, electric heaters, radiators and other heat sources. It is very good if the room is sometimes ventilated in order to slightly lower the temperature, and the air is regularly humidified.

    After unpacking, the tree must be shaken off dry needles. A certain number of such needles should not scare you, this is quite normal, since spruce branches rub against each other during transportation and packaging. The total mass will still remain green.

    Separately, it is worth mentioning that if there is a severe frost outside, less than 15 degrees, then the needles and twigs become very fragile and can be easily damaged. In such weather, we do not recommend disturbing the live spruce branches once again immediately after you brought it home. It is better to hold it for the gradual adaptation of the tree to room temperature, and only then unfold it.

    Tree nursery

    Water supply to the shaft

    The next thing to do is to ensure a regular supply of water to the trunk. In order for the tree to better absorb water, the trunk is cut down 2-3 cm from the log house or notched with a knife to form a fresh cut and a larger area for absorbing moisture.

    When delivering a Christmas tree from our online store, this is done without fail, and at our Christmas tree markets - at the request of the buyer. If you do it yourself, try not to cut the trunk at an angle, such a tree will be difficult to establish, and also do not accidentally cut the bark above the water level - this will greatly reduce the amount of moisture absorbed.

    You can use special Christmas tree stands with water tanks. In them, the Christmas tree is securely and quickly fixed in the desired position, and it is easy to add water as it evaporates. We also recommend using hydrogel - a special tool for retaining moisture.

    Trees on stands

    Tree maintenance after installation

    All trees crumble differently. The Russian Christmas tree, as well as the European (Norwegian) spruce, will begin to lose needles in a few days, the Russian and Canadian pines stand a little longer, their needles may dry out, but if they are not disturbed, they will not crumble much, especially in Canadian pine. And, for example, Danish spruce (Nordmann fir) and Fraser fir do not lose their needles at all, they dry out right on the branches, only slightly changing color. You can take them outside after the holidays, losing perhaps 10 percent of the needles.

    Spruce needles

    Potted Christmas trees

    There is an option to do without shedding needles at all - this is to buy a spruce in a pot. The price of this Christmas tree will be higher than that of a cut tree, but it will not give you any trouble with cleaning. This is a beautiful, well-wintering, world-famous ornamental plant that can be planted in the spring in the yard or at their summer cottage. See also "All about spruces in containers"

    The higher the air temperature in the room, the sooner your cut spruce will begin to crumble. At a temperature of 10 degrees above zero, the New Year tree will stand for a long time, up to a month. But in winter it is quite hot in our apartments, and every 5 degrees increase in temperature reduces the life expectancy of spruce by 1 day. That is, if your house has 28-30 degrees, then with all the tricks, the tree will stand for only a few days. We advise you to regularly ventilate the room in which your Christmas tree stands in order to lower the air temperature by at least a few degrees. You should also not forget that electric electric heaters dry out the air a lot, so it is better not to use them where a live Christmas tree is installed.

    Spray the branches as often as possible with a spray bottle, but you need to do this only after making sure that the electric garland on it is turned off!

    There are also special products for extending the life of Christmas trees - in the form of water-soluble tablets (1 tablet per 2 liters of water) or liquid fertilizer (2 caps of the product per 1.5 liters of water). We will not claim that this is a panacea for shedding, such products prolong the life of cut fir trees by only 2-5 days, but, as a rule, this is enough to celebrate the New Year holidays and spend the weekend comfortably without thinking about urgent cleaning.

    Christmas trees in pots

    What to do with the Christmas tree after the holidays?

    For convenience, you can buy a special case for the disposal of Christmas trees. You can put a tree on it so as not to scratch the floor in the apartment, it is suitable as a decorative element that covers the stand, it will be possible to hide especially valuable gifts in it, and after the holidays, wrap the tree and take it outside without scattering dry needles.

    A live Christmas tree is a real joy for the whole family. And after the holidays, you can throw it away without any regret. Wood is one of the most environmentally friendly materials; when disposed of, it does not harm nature, like plastic bags or artificial Christmas trees.

    See also: "Which is better - a live Christmas tree or an artificial one"

    If you do not want to think about what to do with the tree after the New Year, or the question “Who will go to throw the tree away?” is popular in your family. then you can order a special service from us - Removal and disposal of the Christmas tree, our employees will save you from these troubles, and you will continue to relax.

    Packed Christmas trees

    Return to list

    which spruce or pine to choose, what to add to the water?

    A coniferous tree is the main decoration of the New Year holidays, their integral symbol. Today, many people prefer to purchase artificial Christmas trees or pine trees that will last more than one year. Yes, and you can dress them up long before the celebration - nothing will happen to synthetics. But what should lovers of everything living and natural do, including the unique coniferous aroma, so that the holiday passes without unpleasant surprises in the form of yellowed and crumbling needles? A live Christmas tree stands for a long time, if you follow some simple rules.

    Before the start of the holiday

    Here, as they say, you need to start from the very beginning. That is, from the choice of a freshly cut healthy tree.

    How do you know if the tree will last a long time?

    • Fresh herringbone or pine needles are bright (not yellowed) and flexible, not brittle, oily to the touch, lush, looking up, not splayed in different directions. They can be bent for a long time, but they break off with great difficulty. Otherwise, there is a high risk of buying an already “worn out” Christmas tree, which is not long to live.
    • The needles on a fresh tree are strong. If you shake it and hit the base on the ground, the needles should not crumble.
    • Fresh and healthy living tree has a pronounced coniferous aroma. The opposite suggests that the Christmas tree, most likely, has already managed to freeze slightly. Accordingly, it crumbles pretty quickly.
    • In order to stand longer, the tree must not only be freshly cut, but also healthy. The disease may be indicated by a too thin trunk (less than 10 cm in circumference), the presence of fungus, mold, incomprehensible growths on it.

    In order for the purchased tree to stand longer, it should not be immediately brought from frost into a warm apartment after purchase: sudden temperature changes are detrimental to it. Therefore, we make them not sharp. We give the forest beauty to get used to the temperature of the entrance (holding her there for about an hour), then you can hold her for another 20 minutes in the hallway, where it is usually a little cooler than in the rest of the apartment. And only after such acclimatization can the Christmas tree be brought to where it will stand.

    Living coniferous trees are recommended to be installed and dressed up directly on the eve of the holiday, maximum 2-3 days before it. Therefore, if you purchased a Christmas tree in advance (5-10 days), keep it on the balcony or loggia until this moment so that it is not warm.

    And now - install

    Here, too, there are some important nuances. So, we immediately dismiss the option of installing a Christmas tree on a cross or a special stand: it will not allow you to keep the trunk in a constantly wet state (and this is one of the essential conditions for the long life of a forest beauty). Accordingly, you will have to stop at the “bucket-sand-water” option.

    There are often tips on the net to put the tree just in the water, without sand, but this is not very convenient and safe. Since the spruce will not be very stable, children or animals can easily knock it over. And this means that there is a risk of dousing carpets with water and wet electric garlands.

    So, for the correct installation of the Christmas tree, you need to do the following:

    1. The trunk of a tree is cleaned from the bottom of the bark by 8–10 centimeters.
    2. The Christmas tree is placed in a bucket, fixed with stones, covered with sand and carefully compacted.
    3. If it was necessary to cut off the top or several branches, the wounds must be treated with garden pitch or something similar.
    4. Now the sand needs to be moistened by watering it with a solution of water with aspirin (a couple of tablets per 1-2 liters) or with citric acid, vinegar. Depending on the size of the Christmas tree, sand can absorb from 1 to 3 liters of acidic liquid.

    How to care for a decorated Christmas tree?

    If you need the tree to stand for a long time and not crumble, the “set and forget” option is definitely not effective. The forest beauty will have to be looked after daily.

    • Water with an acidified solution. For nutritional nutrition, you can also add a couple of tablespoons of sugar to the water.
    • Watering is carried out with settled water, from which chlorine has disappeared.
    • Sprinkle the needles with water every day. Be sure to turn off the garlands first.
    • The air in the room must also not be too dry. You should take care of its moistening, because Christmas trees are put in apartments in the winter, when the central heating is on, drying up the air.

    Keep the tree away from radiators or heaters. The extra heat will dry it out faster.

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