Decorating the Christmas tree is a quintessential holiday moment. The soft glow from the twinkle lights dances around the room. The ornaments burst with memories as you pull them from their storage. And you look around, and soak up all the joy!
Now, all that’s left is to make sure your Christmas tree stays alive and full of wonder throughout the holiday season.
Below, tree care industry experts share their best care tips to keep your tree looking fresh.
Christmas Tree Care Tips – Sugar Water, Brown Needles and More
What do you put in Christmas tree water to keep it fresh? Sugar?
R.J. Laverne, Davey’s manager of education and training and an ISA Board Certified Master Arborist®, answers below.
“I’m not aware of any substantial benefits of adding anything to the water,” Laverne says. Instead, he says it’s far more important to make sure that the tree always has enough water.
“If you keep the basin of the Christmas tree stand filled on a regular basis, you won’t have to worry about placing any additives in the water,” Laverne instructs.
How long can a Christmas tree live without water?
Coe Roberts, a certified arborist and manager of digital strategy at the Arbor Day Foundation, fields this question.
“Trees bought in early December that don’t receive adequate water will likely be unacceptably dry by the time the 25th rolls around,” Roberts says.
That’s why his best piece of advice for Christmas tree care is, “Water. Water. Water.”
He recommends putting your tree in water as soon as you bring it home. From there, provide a quart of water for every inch of tree diameter. Be sure to check and replenish your Christmas tree’s water every day. “It’s normal for your tree to take in a large amount of water one day and just a little the next. The cycle can be random,” Roberts says.
How do you best preserve a Christmas tree? Does drilling a hole in its trunk help?
Tchukki Andersen, a board-certified master arborist and staff arborist at the Tree Care Industry Association, shares her tips.
“Your tree preservation efforts need to start at the Christmas tree lot or farm. Give the tree a shake before you buy. If lots of needles fall off, you’ll be doomed,” Andersen shares. Instead, pick a fresh, healthy tree.
To help preserve your tree on the drive home, wrap it in plastic or a net. Once your tree is home, “cut an inch of the trunk if you bought it precut and place it immediately in a bucket of water,” Andersen says.
If you cut your tree and brought it right home, there’s no need to cut again. Just pop in water. Andersen says this works better than drilling a hole in the trunk because it exposes more of the flat surface area and helps the intake of water.
How can I stop needles from falling from my live Christmas tree?
Brian Sayers, a certified arborist and Chair Elect at TREE Fund, answers this one.
First, Sayers advises picking a tree that holds its needles better, like a fir. More on choosing the perfect type of Christmas tree here.
Once you’ve got your tree, resist the urge to bring the tree inside sooner than necessary. And most importantly, Sayers recommends “making sure that it never goes dry.”
Or Sayers says you could always go a different direction. Try “a tree that is in its original root ball. When the holiday season is over, take it outside, keep the root ball from freezing and plant in the spring.”