How to Keep Your Christmas Tree Alive and Green

We all love the smell that a fresh Christmas tree brings to our homes. Now that we have this beauty, how can we make it last? Here are some tips to keep your tree green and alive until Christmas.

Select a Fresh Tree 

  • As you are looking for the perfect tree, be sure to look at the freshness along with the shape and size. To test for freshness, gently pull a branch through your fingers. If more than a couple of needles fall off, the tree has already begun drying out – go for a fresher one.
  • Also, try bouncing the tree on the ground. You want to find a tree that is not losing lots of green needles with this gentle shake (not brown interior needles – those are normally lost).
  • The smell of a fresh tree is strong, so let your nose lead the way to the perfect tree. 

Make a Fresh Cut 

  • Cutting your tree straight from the ground ensures it’s the fresh, but even if you purchase a pre-cut tree, be sure to cut an inch or two off of the bottom of the trunk before placing it in water. When trees are cut, they naturally seal the cut area with a layer of sap within an hour or two. By cutting off the end, you’re removing the sap-covered portion so the tree can drink.
  • If you really want to keep your tree alive, try using a “living Christmas tree.” These trees are brought into the house in large containers of soil, so they are never cut at all. Once Christmas is finished, you can plant it back outdoors for use next year. 

Watering Guidelines 

  • It’s alive! Christmas trees are alive and need a constant source of water to stay that way. Water daily with VERY WARM water. There are two reasons for this: 1) the warm water loosens the sap and 2) it opens the pores. Both of these factors allow the tree to drink more water and last longer.
  • The size of your water basin is important as well. It should hold at least one quart of water for each inch of the tree trunk’s diameter.
  • Avoid adding anything to the water. While there are many concoctions available to purchase or make at home, most of them do more damage than good.
  • Never allow the tree to run out of water. Check it several times a day for the first few days as this is when it drinks the most. After it has absorbed a good amount of water, you can start checking it daily.
  • If the basin goes dry, you will need to re-cut the bottom of the trunk as it will have covered over with sap. 


  • We love our toasty warm homes, but that same warmth causes Christmas trees to dry out quickly. Keep your tree away from heat sources and “hot spots” such as heaters and fire places in your home. The lower temperatures will not only help it stay green longer, it will help prevent fire hazards as well. 

Keep the Needles on the Tree 

  • Prior to bringing the tree indoors, give a couple of bounces on a hard cement floor to knock out any dead needles.
  • Mix in a can of 7-up with the water when you initially place the tree in the basin. The citrus and sugar are natural preservatives. 

After the Holidays– Get Rid of It! 

  • Unlike Christmas lights, which some like to keep up until the weather warms, your Christmas tree will not last more than 4-5 weeks, even with the best precautions and care. Make plants to dispose of your tree (following your local laws) by January 2 at the latest. There are often services that will come and pick up  your spent tree to use as mulch, etc.

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