How to Keep a Christmas Tree From Drying Out (Tips)

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It’s common practice to have your Christmas tree up in November and try to keep it alive and fresh as long as possible. But since you’ve already cut these trees to place them in your home, you may be asking: how do you keep a Christmas tree from drying out? Luckily with some preventative measures in place and consistent care, it’s possible to keep your tree healthy.

We’ve put together answers to your common questions on how to keep your tree fresh, including tips on what to do and not do. Let’s find out!

How do you keep a Christmas tree from drying out?

Giving your live Christmas tree adequate water is the main way to prevent it from drying out. You’ll want to place your tree in water as soon as you bring it home and replenish the water regularly. Christmas trees drink up more water than you might think!

Get the right tree stand

There are plenty of tree stands, like this one, that also hold water you can purchase for this purpose. The best stand for your tree depends on your tree’s stem size. You’ll want at least one quart of water for every inch of the stem diameter.

Allow the trunk to absorb water

Before placing your tree in water, you’ll also want to trim the trunk to help it absorb water. When trees are cut, sap will rush to the wound to seal the tree. Therefore, trim the trunk by half an inch with a saw before you set it up. You don’t need to remove the bark when trimming your tree. The bark actually helps the tree maintain moisture better than bare stems.

How much water

You should be vigilant about checking your Christmas tree’s water as they can drink it much faster than you’d think. An average tree will drink as much as a gallon of water each day. A good rule to go by is 1 quart of water per day per inch of diameter of the trunk. So if the base of the trunk is 4 inches in diameter, the tree may need 4 quarts of water per day which equals a gallon.

Of course this is just a general rule of thumb and may vary from tree to tree, so always keep your eye on the water level in your tree stand.

Where should I place my Christmas tree?

Cool rooms offer the best location for your tree. To prevent your tree from drying out and becoming brittle, you’ll want to place your tree away from direct sunlight, heat sources, or heavy drafts. This includes keeping your tree in a spot away from:

  • Furnaces
  • Fireplaces
  • Air vents
  • Windows where direct sunlight enters
  • Strong lamps or overhead lights

Should I spray my Christmas tree with water?

Yes, you should. Besides having water in the base, it’s also a good idea to spray your Christmas tree with room-temperature water daily. Once a day should be enough. However, make sure the lights are off and unplugged. Spraying your Christmas tree will help:

  • Reduce dryness
  • Prevent a lot of needles from falling off
  • Make your tree more resistant against flames and fires

A moist environment also helps prevent your tree from drying out. You can keep a humidifier in the same room as your tree so the air retains enough water. Also, turn your tree lights off when you aren’t around to avoid the heat from the bulbs drying out the tree.

Why is my Christmas tree drying out?

One of the main reasons your Christmas tree may be drying out, despite having a base with water, is because sap has sealed off the bottom of the tree, preventing it from absorbing water. Make sure you place your tree immediately in water after you trim the trunk to avoid the sap from hardening and sealing the tree.

You also might not be replenishing the water frequently enough. Once your container runs out of water, sap will seal the trunk and you’ll have to trim your tree again. You’ll want to check the water levels of your stand every day and make sure it’s above the base of the tree trunk.

Last but not least, make sure the lights on your Christmas tree aren’t emitting too much heat. You can hold the lights grouped together in your hands to gauge how much heat they create when turned on. There are also products specifically designed for low heat when decorating your tree. For example, LED fairy lights will give off less heat than traditional light bulbs.

What do I put in my Christmas tree water?

While you may have heard of many remedies to add to your Christmas tree water, the truth is: room-temperature, plain tap water is enough for your tree to stay fresh. The water doesn’t have to be distilled or mineral water. If you want to give your tree added nutrients, consider purchasing Christmas tree food that can help your tree take in more water and reduce needle drop.

Despite some beliefs, you shouldn’t add the following to your water:

  • Sugar
  • Aspirin
  • Ketchup
  • Bleach
  • Floral preservatives

Can you overwater a Christmas tree?

No, you can’t overwater a cut Christmas tree. The tree will drink up as much water as it needs and cut trees do well when you keep them immersed in water. You’re more likely to run into issues under-watering your tree than overwatering it.


The best way to keep a Christmas tree from drying out is to place it in water as soon as possible and make sure it continues to have enough water to drink. You’ll want to trim your tree trunk to remove any sap that has sealed off the base. Also, spray your tree daily and keep it away from direct light or heat sources so the needles don’t dry out.

Christmas tree on the curb after Christmas | image by Ann Oro via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

With the information above, you can ensure your tree will stay beautiful and fresh throughout the holiday season!