How to Take Care of a Christmas Tree

Discover the secrets to a longer-lasting tree. From selection to maintenance, learn how to take care of a Christmas tree.

A closeup of a Christmas tree covered in ornaments and lights.

The holiday season is often associated with the lovely scent of fresh evergreens. To maintain the magical atmosphere, it is important to choose a Christmas tree that stays healthy throughout the festivities. Along with bright greenery and a pleasant scent, a fresh tree makes your holiday decorations look better overall.

A living Christmas tree that is well-watered is not only nice to look at, but it is also safer because it is less likely to catch fire.

If a tree stays fresh, it has a more vibrant appeal that draws people in with its lush green branches and pleasant smell. The cleanup after the holidays will be easier if you keep the tree well-watered.

The vibrancy makes sure that your holiday lights, ornaments, and decorations stand out against the background of a healthy evergreen.

Selecting the Right Real Christmas Tree

The first step to a longer-lasting holiday centerpiece is picking out the right Christmas tree.

Choosing a fresh tree from the lot

There are a few easy things you should do to make sure you are picking the freshest tree from the lot.

  1. Look for vibrant green needles, a strong and distinct fragrance, and flexible branches.
  2. Run your fingers along the branches to ensure the needles are firmly attached and don’t easily fall off.
  3. Perform a bounce test by tapping the tree on the ground; if a significant number of needles fall off, it might not be as fresh.

Several popular Christmas tree varieties are favored for their distinct features and appeal. Some favorites include:

  • Fraser Fir: Known for its excellent needle retention and pleasing scent, the Fraser Fir boasts a classic Christmas tree shape with sturdy branches.
  • Balsam Fir: This tree emits a distinctive fragrance and has soft needles with a dark green color. Its branches are sturdy, making it a favorite for ornament hanging.
  • Douglas Fir: With a sweet fragrance and soft, dark green needles, the Douglas Fir is a classic choice. Its branches are well-spaced, providing ample room for decorations.
  • Scotch Pine: Known for its vibrant green color and strong branches, the Scotch Pine is valued for its durability and needle retention.
  • Noble Fir: The Noble Fir has a majestic appearance and excellent needle retention, which are characterized by its strong branches and evenly spaced needles.
  • Virginia Pine: Featuring dense branches and short needles, Virginia Pine is a popular choice for its natural, rustic look.
  • White Pine: With soft, flexible needles and a gentle fragrance, White Pine is valued for its graceful appearance and suitability for lightweight ornaments.
  • Spruce: Adding to the diverse options, the Spruce offers a classic look and strong branches for ornaments.

When selecting a Christmas tree, consider the specific characteristics that align with your preferences and festive vision.

Tree Preparation and Care

For your Christmas tree to stay fresh and colorful all through the holiday season, you need to make sure it is properly prepared and cared for.

Fresh cut before bringing it indoors

Make a fresh cut at the base of your Christmas tree before you bring it inside. This step is very important for making sure the tree can absorb water well and stay moist all season. Cut off about half an inch from the bottom of the trunk with a sharp saw. This will give the tree a clean, flat surface on which to soak up water.

Proper water reservoir setup

For your Christmas tree to stay fresh, you need to set up a proper water reservoir. Pick a Christmas tree stand that is strong and can hold a lot of water—at least one gallon is ideal. The water consumption of a Christmas tree can vary, but on average, it can absorb about one quart (four cups) of water per inch of stem diameter every day.

Once placed in the stand, regularly check and replenish the water in the stand daily to prevent the cut end from sealing. It’s best to use room-temperature water. Cold water may not be as readily absorbed by the tree, while hot water can shock and damage the tree’s cells.

Location considerations for the tree

Selecting the appropriate spot for your Christmas tree is very important for its lasting quality. Keep the tree away from sources of heat, like fireplaces and heat vents, which can dry it out faster. Choose a spot where the temperature stays the same to keep the moisture from evaporating quickly. Also, keep the tree away from windows that get a lot of sun and drafts, as these can affect how fresh it is overall.

Tips for Maintaining Freshness

By making sure the tree gets enough water and does not get too stressed, these tips will help it last longer and look beautiful at your holiday gatherings.

Watering frequency and amount

There are several important parts to this process, including how often and how much you water. Check the water level every day and add more as needed to keep the needles from drying out and turning brown too soon. Try to keep the water level steady so that your tree stays lush and healthy.

Using natural additives in the water

Adding natural substances to the water in your Christmas tree’s reservoir will make it last longer. Consider these additives:

  • Aspirin: Dissolving an aspirin in the water can help improve water uptake, keeping the tree hydrated.
  • Sugar: A small amount of sugar provides nutrients, supporting the tree’s vitality and needle retention.
  • Vinegar: Adding a splash of white vinegar helps combat bacterial growth, preventing clogs in the tree’s vascular system.
  • Molasses: Offering a nutrient boost, molasses in the water can contribute to the tree’s overall health.


Even with the best care, issues may arise with your Christmas tree.

If your Christmas tree is too dry, the needles will get weak and break easily when you bend them. Also, the needles’ color might change, becoming dull or brown. Feeling the needles on a regular basis to check the level of moisture can help you figure out how hydrated the tree is.

When your Christmas tree drops a lot of needles, it means it needs water. To fix this problem, give the tree more water right away. Make sure the tree is in a stable stand with enough water, and make sure the water is added regularly to keep the tree hydrated.

You could also mist the tree with water to keep it moist and prevent needle drops. If the problem does not go away, you might need to cut back the tree’s base to expose new wood that can soak up more water.

​​Here are a few things you can do when your Christmas tree dies before the holiday is officially over:

  • Take the tree off the stand and cut off a piece of the end of the trunk. If the end has already died, this will let the tree drink more water.
  • Make a hole in the tree’s side that is deep enough for water to cover it.
  • Trying to lower the fire risk by limiting the time the tree lights are on or not lighting the tree at all if it still does not drink water.
  • Before something happens, make sure you know where your fire extinguisher is. It is true that most lights these days are not fire hazards, but it is still good to be safe. 
  • You will have to pick up pine needles every day until your Christmas tree is gone. Dead trees shed like crazy!

Recycling and Disposal

An environmentally friendly way to end the holiday season is to recycle or throw away your Christmas tree the right way. 

Environmentally friendly options for tree disposal

Once it is time to get rid of your Christmas tree, think about options that are good for the environment and will help your community as well. 

Choose programs that recycle trees so that they can be turned into mulch or compost, which are useful things for gardens and parks. 

Owners of goats often like getting untreated Christmas trees for their animals as a holiday treat. The trees are a natural and enriching snack for the goats. They keep them busy and give them nutrition, and the trees are reused in an eco-friendly way.

You can give your Christmas tree a second life by sticking it outside for the birds to act as a natural bird feeder. The tree can provide perches and hiding places for birds while adding a touch of seasonal charm to your yard. Might I suggest the homemade birdseed ornaments mentioned in my Outdoor Christmas Decor post?

If you’ve found value in this blog post and enjoyed reading it, why not share it with your Pinterest community? Pin the image below and spread the love!

A Pinterest-friendly graphic for my post on caring for your Christmas tree.

I wish you a Merry Christmas filled with the scent of fresh pine and the warmth of festive joy! 

How do you make your holiday season extra special with your Christmas tree? Share your magical moments in the comments below!

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