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Tired of stepping on those fallen, prickly Christmas needles? Try this.

How to Stop Needles from Falling Off Your Christmas Tree

December 13, 2018

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Stitched stockings hanging from the mantel add charm. Twinkling lights brighten up the room. The Christmas tree wows with its scent, ornaments and... brown needles?

No matter what Christmas decor you choose, brown tree needles don’t fit in. Even worse, when live Christmas tree needles fall off, it makes your tree look sparse and creates quite the mess.

You don’t have to let a declining tree dim your holiday season. Here’s what to do about a Christmas tree with brown needles that litter the floor.

How do you keep a Christmas tree from drying out, dying or dropping needles?

Making sure your tree stays fresh starts well before you set it up.

  1. Pick a Christmas tree that’s less likely to drop needles.

Kevin Bosworth of Davey’s Portland, Maine, office recommends choosing firs while avoiding spruces. 

“Spruces are notorious for dropping needles,” Bosworth says. “Pines are in the middle. They drop some needles, but not a ton.”

  1. Select a fresh tree to lessen the chance of needle drop.
  • Best: A Christmas tree with a root ball is much less likely to shed needles because it’s still living.
  • Better: If you can, opt to cut down your own tree at a Christmas tree farm.
  • Good: If you buy a pre-cut tree, give it a hearty shake to make sure the needles don’t fly off. Its problems will only get worse when you get home.
  1. Help your tree drink more water.
  • If you don’t plan to set the tree up the same day you get it, put it in a bucket of water. Then, store in a cool, dry place away from cold temperatures and harsh sun.
  • When it’s time to set up, cut an inch or so off the bottom of the trunk before putting in its stand.

How can I keep needles on a real Christmas tree after I set it up?

Naturally, your Christmas tree will drop a few needles here and there before the holidays are over. But to prevent massive needle drop, keep your tree hydrated and away from heat and drafts.

  • Your tree stand should always have water in it. You don’t want the basin to run out of water because the tree may seal its base with sap, which drastically reduces its ability to absorb water. Be sure to fill your tree stand daily to make sure that doesn’t happen. No need to add any preservatives to the water.

  • While you might like to be warm and toasty in winter, your live Christmas tree doesn’t! Keep it away from any heating vents, fireplaces, radiators or windows that bring in a lot of sunlight.
  • You can even opt for smaller or LED lights on the tree. Since they produce less heat, there’s less chance of them drying out the tree.

Can I save a dying Christmas tree with brown, falling needles?

If cared for using the tips above, your Christmas tree should look good for up to five weeks or so.

But all live Christmas trees have an expiration date, which can come sooner if your tree doesn’t get enough water.

Sorry to say that once your tree starts browning, you can’t bring back the green. You can make sure the tree lives on by recycling it to spruce up your home or help your community.

Want new life from your Christmas tree? Try propagating!

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