How to keep a live tree fresh

How to Keep Your Christmas Tree Fresh

Plus, we have the scoop on that "add corn syrup to the water" myth.


By Roxanna Coldiron Updated September 15, 2022


Credit: Johnny Miller

Real Christmas trees make for a beautiful and traditional holiday decoration. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, approximately 25 to 30 million real trees are purchased every year. However, keeping your real tree alive during the holiday season does require providing it with some persistent care—and a good solid base.

Put the tree in water as soon as possible

Remember: You're bringing home a live plant. If you want to keep it fresh, it needs to have adequate water. "Water is the absolute most important thing you can do to preserve your tree for Christmas," says Jane Neubauer, co-owner of Sugar Pines Farm in Chesterland, Ohio. "Get a tree stand with a built-in reservoir and check it regularly. People don't always realize how much water their Christmas trees will drink up. You'll need to replenish the water regularly." You can buy additives to help water absorption and kill bacteria, but they aren't as necessary as simply keeping the tree well-watered.

Trim the trunk

When trees are first cut, sap rushes to close the wound, sealing the bottom. "When that happens, the tree isn't as able to absorb water," Neubauer says. "Add a fresh cut at the bottom right before you place it in water, and try to put up your Christmas tree the same day you bring it home."

Using a saw, trim 1/2 inch off the trunk before placing in a reservoir stand with water. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, you'll want to make the cut perpendicular to the axis of the stem, and avoid cutting the trunk at an angle or in a V-shape because it will make it harder to keep the tree upright in the stand. If you have to store the tree for a few days, Neubauer advises keeping the tree in a cool place with water until you're able to set it up.

Water, water, water (and maybe try additives)

Check the stand daily for water levels—as a general rule, you should provide one quart of water per inch of stem diameter. Despite popular belief, neither a hole drilled in the bottom of the trunk nor the water temperature impact the tree's longevity or its ability to retain water. There is some debate among experts as to whether additives such as corn syrup, aspirin, and sugar are necessary to prolong the life of a tree. And while these aren't likely to harm the tree, a study from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point affirmed that they were not any more effective than clean water. That isn't to say you should avoid experimenting!

Be cautious of heat sources, including lights

Direct sunlight or a furnace will quickly dry out the tree. "Your tree will become dry and brittle if it's too close to a heat source," says Neubauer. "Place the tree someplace where it isn't facing direct heat, and that will help your tree not to dry out too fast. " Smaller lights on the tree might also help to slow the drying-out process, but you can still do large lights if you keep up on watering the tree. You can also lower the temperature in the room where the tree is located to slow down the drying process. If your tree does dry out, though, you will need to remove it from the house and recycle it. Do not burn the tree in the fireplace or wood stove.

Turn off the lights when leaving the room

Lights can become very hot and cause a fire hazard if left on the tree unmonitored for hours at a time. Play it safe and turn off the lights if you're not going to be around to monitor the tree. You also need to make sure that all of your bulbs are in good condition and that the cords for the lights are not worn or frayed. Real trees can catch fire, so follow general fire safety tips when keeping a real Christmas tree indoors. Turning off the lights occasionally will also slow down the drying-out process.

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.

    Related Stories
    • 15 Best Outdoor Christmas Lights
    • Homemade Christmas Ornaments for Your Tree

    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.

    90,000 Councils of experienced flower growers in 2022 on the Gudgront


    • Characteristic
    • Methods of irrigation
    • Features of watering on top of
    • Watering
    • Watering at
    • Choice of water 9000,9000,
    • under the bay of
    • after the transfer
    • Errors

    A beautiful and popular plant that often adorns window sills and home greenhouses is the fat tree, or money tree. It is believed that it not only performs decorative functions, but also attracts financial flows to the house. But in order for the plant to please the eye, the money tree must be properly watered.


    The money tree (other names - crassula, crassula) is easy to care for and unpretentious, so even those who do not have the opportunity to devote a lot of time to flowers can put it on the windowsill. In addition, according to the Eastern wisdom of Feng Shui, such a green perennial will attract money and financial well-being to the apartment.

    However, even the most unpretentious plant needs competent watering organization - this will help to avoid the appearance of drooping weak leaves.

    Watering methods

    There are two ways to properly water Crassula at home:

    • top;
    • through pallet.

    Each of them is easy to implement, has both advantages and disadvantages. The florist has the right to choose one or the other, depending on his preferences.

    Top irrigation features

    When watering from above, you will need a watering can with a narrow neck and a diffuser, due to which watering can be organized neatly. The key advantage of the method is that water “delivers” nutrients down to the roots.

    Crassula is an unpretentious plant, nothing bad will happen if moisture accidentally gets on the stem or leaves. On the contrary, the fat woman will be grateful if you periodically spray her leaves with a spray bottle (this should be done in the summer). In winter, the procedure should be replaced by wiping with a damp cloth.


    When watering with a watering can, the liquid should be directed to the edges of the pot so as not to wash out the soil near the roots.

    Excess moisture will settle in the drip tray after about 60 minutes - this must be drained in a timely manner.

    Bottom irrigation

    Watering through the pallet is used by more experienced flower growers. Also, the method is relevant if the plant has not been watered for a long time and the earthen ball in the pot is completely dry. To organize moistening, pour a pre-settled liquid at room temperature into the pot tray, put a flower in it, wait until the water is absorbed into the soil. After half an hour, the water from the pan must be drained.

    This method is effective in combating waterlogged roots, is an excellent way to prevent fungus.

    It is necessary to know the main drawback of such watering - useful substances together with moisture will rise from the roots upwards, so their deficiency may occur, which will negatively affect the condition of the plant. You can understand that such a situation has occurred by changing the state of the soil - a calcareous whitish coating forms on its surface. That is why special attention should be paid to the timely feeding of the money tree.


    To avoid such unpleasant consequences, the two methods can be alternated.

    If a lime film has formed on the soil, it must be removed along with the top layer of soil, as it is a fertile environment for the development of bacteria.

    Seasonal irrigation

    In order not to cause harm to the plant, it is important to remember that it does not belong to moisture-loving, because the special structure of the leaf retains liquid well for a long time. Therefore, the money tree does not need frequent watering, especially in the cold season.

    In the table, we present the features of the organization of watering the fat woman depending on the season.

    Season Winter Spring Summer Autumn
    Watering frequency 1-2 times per month 1 time per week 1-2 times per week 1 time per week
    Tips If the money tree overwinters in cold conditions, watering is contraindicated The weather will gradually get hotter, so the watering time will have to be increased. Pay attention to the temperature. If it is a hot summer, the frequency of watering should be increased. On the contrary, if it is cool outside, it is worth reducing the amount of moisture to avoid root rot Pay attention to the soil - it must be dry, so the plants are prepared for wintering

    In general, the amount of watering for Crassula depends on the conditions in which it grows. If the money tree is in a dry climate, it should be watered more often, if in conditions of high humidity - much less often.

    Water selection

    Special attention should be paid to the quality of the water to be used for the Crassula.

    • Cold tap water contains chlorine and is therefore harmful to the plant.
    • It is advisable to use purified liquid for irrigation. If this is not possible, tap water is poured into special containers (glass jars are suitable) and left for at least 6 hours. The temperature of the liquid should be at room temperature.


    Do not cover the containers with a lid, this will prevent the evaporation of harmful substances.

    • Melt water is perfect for a money tree, as it contains almost no impurities. However, it must be done in a special way: pour water into a container, place in the freezer. Then you should wait until ½ of the liquid freezes, drain the unfrozen one (it contains harmful salts and impurities). Allow the rest to thaw, warm and use for watering.
    • Wood ash will help soften water for irrigation: ½ tsp. add to a liter of water, leave for 12 hours.

    If you water the money tree with tap water containing chlorine impurities, its leaves will become lethargic and begin to fall off.


    To figure out how often to water a plant, consider the conditions in which it grows. If in the summer a pot with a money tree is taken out to the balcony, then the frequency of watering is likely to be increased, since under the influence of the sun and wind the soil will begin to dry out faster.


    It is possible to determine that the time has come for moistening by analyzing the state of the soil. Gently pierce the soil with your finger - if the soil is dry at a depth of more than one phalanx, watering is necessary. It is not worth looking at the external state, because often the soil from above is covered with a dry crust, under which the humidity is increased. In this case, it must be carefully loosened.

    Crassula begins to grow rapidly in spring, so the frequency of watering young plants must be increased. However, an adult money tree will suffice to moisten 1-2 times a week, depending on the growing conditions.

    In flood

    If, despite all efforts, the plant was flooded, then it can be saved only by transplanting it into fresh soil. You can also use the old soil, which must first be properly dried. The money tree is carefully removed from the pot along with a clod of earth, the root system is carefully freed from wet soil adhering to it, wrapped in a napkin.

    After letting the roots dry, the plant should be placed in a pot with slightly moistened soil and not watered for the first two days.


    If, during a visual inspection of the root system, roots are found that have already begun to rot, they must be carefully removed.

    After transplant

    It is very important to properly water the money tree after transplanting. The main condition that flower growers must adhere to is to prevent flooding. With regard to the fat woman, the principle “it is better not to add than to overfill” applies. The plant will tolerate drought well, but excess moisture will cause root rot and death.

    After transplanting at home, three types of watering are possible.

    1. If the plant was urgently rescued (for example, after excessive soil moisture), has damaged roots, which for a while remained in the fresh air and dried up, then it should be watered quite a bit immediately after planting.
    2. In other cases, watering is preferable after a day or even two.
    3. If the transplant was planned, a sterilized soil mixture was used, then watering is required.

    It is important to remember that after the first watering, the soil shrinks, therefore, after moistening the soil, you need to wait until the remaining liquid leaves the pot through the drainage hole, after which the soil is topped up so that the shrinkage results are not visible, and watered again.


    Flower growers should know what features of the "behavior" of the plant will tell them that there have been violations of the rules for organizing irrigation.

    • If the money tree begins to shed its leaves in the summer, it means that the owner used very cold water or watered the flower very rarely.
    • Leaves wilt, become pale - the plant is heavily flooded with water, it is necessary to completely stop watering for a week. If it does not help, a transplant into a new soil will be required.
    • Wrinkled dark leaves covered with brown spots are a sign that the plant is suffering from systematic drought. Perhaps it is in very hot conditions - then it is best to place pieces of expanded clay on the surface of the soil, they will contribute to moisture.


    The appearance of soft brown spots on the leaves is not associated with watering and most often indicates a fungal infection. Special sprays will help get rid of it.

    Watering the money tree at home most often does not cause any particular difficulties. This unpretentious plant does not need to comply with special requirements, however, it must be remembered that it is better not to water it than to overdo it and fill it.

    How to save a Christmas tree for up to 5 weeks - AgroXXI

    How long does a Christmas tree live and how to choose the freshest and most fragrant tree

    If a few years ago everyone called for abandoning live Christmas trees in favor of artificial ones, now everything has changed exactly the opposite.

    Buying live trees, according to climate change fighters, helps develop farms where Christmas trees are grown and thus help to contain carbon dioxide emissions.

    So, if you decide to choose a living tree, you should answer questions from the very beginning.

    Do you have time to take care of your Christmas tree and how do you plan to dispose of the tree? Do you have enough space for placement at home, since the branches of conifers can unfold within a few days after you bring a living decoration home?

    As for how long your Christmas tree will live, with proper care, this period can reach up to five weeks! Now for some helpful tips to keep your Christmas tree looking fresh longer.

    First, note that when you buy your tree from a garden store or roadside lot, it likely came from another area and was exposed to drying winds during transportation. If you want the freshest tree, look for a nearby farm that grows Christmas trees.

    Next, choose a healthy green tree with the least amount of brown needles. Run your hands along several branches. The needles should be flexible and not fall off.

    Lift the tree a few centimeters, then lightly hit the ground. Very few green needles should fall, but it's okay if the tree loses a few brown ones.

    2. Cut the trunk

    When buying a Christmas tree, make sure the seller makes a fresh cut right through the base of the trunk to help absorb water.

    When you get home, cut another 3 cm to prevent resin clogging and place the tree on a sturdy stand that can hold at least 4 liters of water.

    3. Top up with water

    Don't forget to water your tree regularly - too little moisture can cause resin to form, which means the tree won't be able to absorb water and dry out quickly.

    Despite what you've probably heard a lot of advice about adding bleach, corn syrup, aspirin and sugar to your water, no preservatives or additives are needed. Most experts agree that pure water is enough to keep the wood fresh. Just remember to check the water level daily - it should always cover the cut end of the trunk. Top up if necessary.

    4. Keep away from battery

    Lowering the room temperature can help slow down the drying process (and therefore the wood will need less water).

    Therefore, keep away from heat sources, radiators, heaters, blowers, and so on.

    Place a large room humidifier next to the tree, an easy way to extend the life of your Christmas tree.

    5. Remove the tree before it dries

    If you wait too long, you will end up dealing with a lot of needles, which are very, very painful to step on with bare feet. Therefore, at the first sign of needlepad, say goodbye to the symbol of the main winter holiday.

    Needles are easiest to collect with a vacuum cleaner without attachments, and dried wood can be processed into mulch yourself (if you live in a rural area) or sent to recycling points in the city.

    Not a Christmas tree, but a fir

    Under the name "Christmas tree", fir trees are increasingly being sold today, which serve as an equally attractive decoration, and in some cases even surpass an ordinary Christmas tree.

    In the house, fir trees last longer than spruce trees, as they are more heat-loving plants, and the resin accumulates not in the resin channels, but on the surface of the tree in special “pockets”.

    Some say firs are better for hanging heavy homemade Christmas decorations because of their strong, inflexible branches, and there are also very fragrant varieties with good needle retention for less cleaning.

    Balsam Fir gives you the true smell of Christmas and is the most fragrant of Christmas trees.

    The conical shape and dark green color of the wood are exactly what people expect from a winter holiday. Balsam fir holds its needles firmly to the last.

    Douglas Fiers Fir is popular for its perfect pyramid shape and blue-green needles spread out in all directions, making the tree look luxurious and fluffy.

    The biggest drawback is that this tree will immediately shed its needles if it doesn't get enough water.

    Learn more