How to prolong the life of your live Christmas tree

christmas tree

There are many old wives’ tales associated with live Christmas tree care, but what actually works? Learn to separate the facts from the myths to keep your live tree looking and smelling fresh for Santa.


  1. Sophisticated watering systems prolong life. Traditional tree stands provide the most effective water-delivery systems, so there’s no reason to purchase an expensive stand with an intravenous watering system that supplies water directly to holes drilled into the trunk.
  2. Live trees need antitranspirants or flame retardants. Antitranspirants marketed specifically for live Christmas trees aren’t proven to prevent drying when applied to Christmas tree foliage. Furthermore, flame retardants can actually work against you and speed up the drying process.
  3. Water-holding gels help your tree stay hydrated. Water-holding gels can actually reduce the amount of water that’s available to your tree. Don’t bother adding them to your stand.
  4. Cutting away layers of the outer bark at the bottom of your tree can improve water intake. Never cut away the outer layers of bark. They actually take in the most water.
  5. Store-bought products and home remedies can prolong the life of cut Christmas trees. There are plenty of products available at your local hardware store that claim to prolong the life of cut Christmas trees; however, none have been found to be effective. Likewise, molasses, honey, sugar and aspirin are home remedies believed to prolong the life of cut Christmas trees, but none have proven to to work better than clean water.


  1. Traditional tree stands work best. You don’t have to spend a ton of money on a fancy tree stand to prolong the life of your Christmas tree. Just make sure the traditional stand you select holds enough water to provide one quart per inch of stem diameter.
  2. Heat sources can dry out your tree. Display your tree away from heat sources and lower room temperatures to slow the drying process.
  3. Making sure the stump is covered in water ensures intake. Always make sure the stump end of your tree is covered in water so that it doesn’t dry out and negatively impact water intake. For the first week, you may have to water your tree more than once a day. After that, daily watering should suffice.
  4. A level stump is best for water intake. Cutting your stump at an angle or into a ‘v’ shape will not improve water intake.
  5. Clean water is all that is needed to keep your cut tree looking fresh and healthy all season long. The temperature of the water and the use of additives don’t make a difference in preserving your tree. Just make sure to provide clean fresh water at least daily.



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