9 Tips For Extending the Life of Your Christmas Tree


Christmas is coming soon. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, as the old song goes. It means festive gatherings with friends and family, lots of bright and festive decor, and of course, a beautiful Christmas tree for you and your guests to trim and admire. Lots of people have fake trees that they set up in their homes each year after Thanksgiving; they find that it’s just easier than having a real one, and they appreciate not having to shell out 20 or 30 or 40 (or more!) bucks per year for a real tree. They look fairly decent, and they’re affordable.

But let’s be honest: real Christmas trees are the best. Sure, fake trees are alright, but there’s nothing like that fresh, verdant smell of a real evergreen Christmas tree in your home. Plus, many families have made a lovely annual tradition of heading out together to pick out the perfect tree, cut it down, and take it home. It’s also especially nice to have a literal reminder of the vibrancy of life during the cold holiday season, and a live tree does just that.

The biggest challenge with having a real Christmas tree, however, is keeping it fresh and alive throughout December. The last thing that you want is for your tree to die before the big day, because let’s face it: it doesn’t feel much like Christmas if your presents are tucked under a brown, dried out tree. But the good news is that there are several things you can do to make your real tree look great until December 25 and even into the new year. Here are nine tips for extending the life of your Christmas tree.

1. Choose a tree with lots of life in it.

Don’t just grab the first Christmas tree you come upon, especially if you’re shopping at a pre-cut tree lot. Instead, choose the one that looks the greenest, as brown needles are a sure sign that it may not last very long. Additionally, make sure your tree isn’t harboring any beetles, aphids, or other little pests, since these can leach nutrients out of a tree and diminish its longevity. Finally, if you’re buying a pre-cut tree, you’ll want to ask when it was cut down; any tree that’s been sitting around for more than a few days after being cut may not last very long. Get the freshest one you can, or better yet, cut down your own.

2. Protect it on the ride home.

It’s tempting to just strap your Christmas tree to the roof of your car or truck and head for home, but wait! All that air rushing around your moving vehicle and the tree can start to dry it out, and a dried tree won’t last long at all. Instead, wrap your tree carefully in a large tarp or blanket, then carefully tie it to your car or truck for the ride home, and unwrap it as soon as you get it inside.

3. Make a fresh cut before you put it in water.

It may not seem like a big deal, but a fresh cut off the bottom of the trunk will actually help the tree absorb water much better than a cut that’s a few days old. That’s because after a few days, the old cut will accumulate dried sap and not take in water as well, which can quickly lead to the tree becoming dried out and dying.

4. Put it in water right away.

You may not want to decorate your fresh tree right away, and that’s totally fine. However, like any other freshly cut flower or plant, you’ve got to get your tree in water right away. In fact, it may be a good idea to have your tree stand with water in it all ready to go before you head out to get your tree. That way, you can stick it in water immediately upon your arrival.


5. Keep it watered well.

Trees need to have water to live — it’s as simple as that. If you’ve got a real Christmas tree, you’ll need to make sure it has a constant supply of fresh water. Check your tree stand twice every day to make sure there’s enough in there.

6. Put it in a sunny spot.

Like a lot of plants, Christmas trees thrive in partial sunlight. A south facing window may give it too much sun, but a north facing window won’t be nearly enough. Instead, choose an east or west facing window so it gets some sunlight in the morning or the afternoon.

7. Don’t put it near a direct heat source.

Radiators, heat vents, fireplaces, and wood burning stoves may all do a great job at keeping you warm, but they make your Christmas tree a little too warm. If your tree is too close to a heat source, it will dry out quickly, which means it won’t last long. To help extend the life of your tree, keep it as far away as possible from any direct source of heat.

8. Use LED lights instead of incandescent lights.

Just like a heat source will dry out a tree, strings of lights that get hot or even warm to the touch will also diminish your tree’s life. Incandescent lights can get fairly warm if they’ve been on a while, but LED lights don’t get hot at all and are therefore a better choice for stringing around your fresh tree.

9. Boost the humidity.

Keeping the air full of moisture will go a long way in preventing your tree from drying out and dying. If you have a humidifier, keep it running in the same room as your tree. If you don’t have one and don’t want to make the investment, here’s another trick: put a pan of water on or near the heat source in that room (such as on a radiator or near a vent) can also help put some moisture in the air.


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