4 Proven Ways to Keep Your Christmas Tree Fresh Through December

November 15, 2019

Wondering how to keep your real Christmas tree alive? These proven tips will help preserve your live Christmas tree and keep it fresh all month long!

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Wondering how to keep your real Christmas tree alive? These proven tips will help preserve your live Christmas tree and keep it fresh all month long!

How to Keep a Christmas Tree Fresh

Recently I asked readers what tips and tricks they’d be most interested in hearing about. I was surprised when nearly 90% of the requests I received were about how to keep a Christmas tree fresh! I received so many questions like: How to keep a Christmas tree from shedding? How to keep a Christmas tree from dropping needles? How to keep a Christmas tree fresh?

So I started doing some research. If you’re landing on this page because Google sent you here, I am glad!

Most websites will tell you that you need to feed the tree with sugar water (or corn syrup) to keep the tree fresh. However, this simply isn’t true. The fact is, your tree will only be as fresh as the moisture it retains.

So the questions boils down to: how do you keep a Christmas tree hydrated?

If you keep your tree hydrated, your tree will remain as fresh as possible for as long as possible.

Wondering how to keep your real Christmas tree alive? These proven tips will help preserve your live Christmas tree and keep it fresh all month long!

These are four simple ways to keep your tree alive throughout the holiday season:

  • A fresh cut trunk will supply the tree with more water.

    • If you’re purchasing your tree from a Christmas tree lot, chances are your tree was cut at least a week prior to you buying it. This means that the xylem vessels have closed up and sap has essentially clogged up the tree trunk (meaning: water isn’t able to be absorbed). Your job will be to re-hydrate the tree as best you can! To do so, cut a fresh cut at least 1/2 inch from the base of the trunk. This will remove any sap and allow the cells of the tree to suck up fresh water. Which leads us to…
  • Supply the tree with enough water, and often!

    • This may seem like a given, but don’t forget to water your tree. A live Christmas tree drinks 1 quart of water per 1 inch of trunk diameter. Most Christmas tree stands will hold about a gallon of water, and they should be refilled daily. This will also help reduce the risk of fire!
    • One common mistake people make when caring for their live Christmas tree, is placing it in too small of a Christmas tree stand. Be sure to use a large enough stand for your tree so that it has access to all of the water it wants to drink! These simple tips will help ensure your tree stays as hydrated as possible.
  • Mist the tree with water.

    • I have found that misting the tree with extra moisture from a spray bottle helps keep the tree alive and prevents the tree from dropping needles.
  • Add a humidifier.

    • This is a great way to help keep a live Christmas tree fresh throughout the holiday season. Place a humidifier near the Christmas tree and turn it on each day or night. This will keep the air moist and provide extra freshness.
    • I noticed this when we switched from baseboard heating (which was water based) to electric heat. When we made the switch, my garlands and tree seemed to dry out overnight. I deducted that this was due to the lack of moisture. Now, I keep a humidifier on to help keep the Christmas tree and garland fresh! This is especially helpful if you live in a dry climate!

Real Christmas Tree Stands & Waterers


If you have a chance, you might also take these preliminary steps when bringing your tree indoors:

  1. Shake the tree for any dead needles or debris.

  2. Cut at least 1/2” off of the base of the trunk.

  3. Gently hose the tree off to give it a good bit of moisture before bringing it indoors. Place the tree in a large bucket of water while it dries.

  4. Now it’s time to bring your tree indoors. Make sure to use a large enough tree stand and supply the tree with at least 1 gallon of water.

More tips for caring for a live Christmas tree:

  • Place tree away from direct sunlight.

  • Provide fresh water every day!

  • Keep away from heating vents, fireplaces, or other heat sources.

  • Do not place near a draft.

  • Don’t leave the lights on for longer than necessary. They provide heat, which is a fire hazard and can dry the tree out more quickly.

Common recommendations for keeping a Christmas tree fresh that don’t actually work:

  1. Cutting the tree at a V or / angle. This actually decreases the area of which your tree can draw up water and potentially reduces freshness.

  2. Removing away the bark. The bark helps the tree retain moisture, so be sure to purchase a tree stand wide enough for the trunk of your tree.

  3. Sugar water or corn syrup. This does not actually do anything or feed the tree, it’s a waste of your time. Fresh, clean water is all that is necessary to keep your tree alive!

  4. Warm vs cold water: this simply doesn’t matter and won’t affect the trees freshness. The most important thing is providing enough water for the tree at all times, and making sure the trunk has a fresh cut so that the xylem vessels are open and able to draw up water.

  5. Spraying trees with fire retardant or “sealant”, these will not help the tree retain moisture and are really just a marketing ploy.

I found this article about caring for a live Christmas tree very interesting and helpful!

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