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How Much & How Often to Water a Christmas Tree: Care Tips & FAQ

Christmas tree in the cabin

Bringing home a live Christmas tree is a family tradition for many. While live trees may require much more maintenance, they certainly have a way of putting you in the Christmas spirit with their fresh-cut scent and Christmas-y essence.

As the holiday season is full of happiness and joy, you can get caught up in the hustle and bustle of this busy season. And one thing you don’t want to forget is watering your live tree. If you are new to caring for live Christmas trees, or you’re just trying to figure out the ideal watering routine, we’ve got you covered.

trees & plants divider Watering Your Christmas Tree

The key to keeping your tree healthy and looking great throughout the holiday season is keeping up with those watering requirements. A live Christmas tree can use up to one quart of water per inch of the diameter of the cut end. The standard-size tree will typically have a diameter between three and five inches, but it’s a good idea to do a quick measurement.

Once you bring home your tree and have it all set up. Fill your tree stand with the necessary amount of water per the measurements. Make it a daily habit to provide fresh, clean water daily to top it off. If your tree is using up a lot of water, this is a sign your tree is taking in water well and is properly hydrated.

It is rumored that you should add things like sugar, aspirin, bleach, or other preservatives into the water, but that is unnecessary. Regular tap water is all you need to keep your tree fresh and healthy.

Christmas Tree
Photo Credit By: AnnieSpratt , Pixabay

Additional Christmas Tree Care Tips

Watering your Christmas tree is the most essential part of your tree’s care throughout the season. Here are some additional tips to keep your tree in the best shape possible:

Make Sure the Trunk Is Properly Cut

One essential part of getting a new Christmas tree is to make sure the trunk is properly cut so that it can absorb water efficiently. It is recommended that the bottom inch of the tree trunk be cut off for proper water absorption. This should be done wherever you buy your tree, and any pre-cut trees should be ready to go upon purchase.

Cutting a tree with a chainsaw wearing a helmet and visor
Photo Credit By: Parilov, Shutterstock

Put the Tree in Water Immediately

Caring for a live Christmas tree is a lot like caring for freshly cut flowers. It’ll not be able to survive for very long unless it is in water. Once you get your tree, you need to make sure your first order of business is getting it placed in a stand full of water. It will easily lose its luster and dry out if it is deprived of water.

Keep an Appropriately Sized Watering Can

Since your average six-foot Christmas tree will require more than one gallon of water each day, you’ll want to have a watering can that is appropriately sized so that you can make as few trips as possible. Of course, this is all dependent on the size of your tree, so make sure to get those measurements.

Man cutting tree with chainsaw
Photo Credit By: Pikrepo

Pick the Right Stand

It’s a good idea to get a stand that is appropriately sized for your tree. Once you know the diameter of the stem, you’ll know what size stand will work best since you need to provide at least one quart of water per inch.

Check Your Water Levels Often

Each tree is different, and throughout the years, you may notice that certain trees will take in more water than others. Since you don’t want the water level to fall below the tree’s base, you should monitor the levels closely so that you can top it off as needed and keep your tree in tip-top shape. It’s recommended to check the levels twice a day for the first week or so, and at least once per day through the season after that.

watering lavender plant
Photo Credit By: Mostovyi Sergii Igorevich, Shutterstock

Give the Needles a Spritz

In a lot of areas, the holiday season comes with colder weather, which means the heat is running and the air inside is typically drier. Give the needles a spritz with some water from a spray bottle to mist them down and prevent them from breaking off. That dry air can cause them to become brittle and snap more easily, this is just a way to stave that off.

Try a Tree Watering System

Tree watering systems are an easy way to add water to your tree without having to move everything around it. As the holiday season moves on, more and more presents fill up the underneath of your tree, making it a chore to get back in there to water it properly. This is just an optional step to keep things easier and simpler.

plastic bottle watering plants
Image Credit: Jakkrapong Waree, Shutterstock

Keep the Tree Away from Heating Vents

Your tree will survive longer if it is kept in a cooler area. While most of us must use our heat during the winter to keep the house warm and cozy, the least you can do is keep your Christmas tree away from any vents that blow out the warm air.

trees & plants divider

Most Common Types of Live Christmas Trees

There are plenty of different types of live Christmas trees available to purchase during the holidays. They may have different looks, scents, and may vary in color but their watering requirements are all the same. Here’s a quick look at some of the most popular Christmas tree varieties and some quick facts about each.

Balsam Fir

The Balsam fir may be one of the most classic of all Christmas tree varieties. They are popular because they are very symmetrically shaped like a triangle. The branches are very flexible with dark green needles. They do not hold heavy ornaments well but have a strong, Christmas-y scent that lots of people long for.

Douglas Fir

The short, compact Douglas fir is a very popular Christmas tree type that is super easy to find and inexpensive to purchase. The needles are soft and rarely drop unless the tree has not been watered properly. These aren’t great at holding onto heavier ornaments, but it has a very sweet, pleasant fragrance.

douglas fir trees
Image Credit: Sharon Snider, Shutterstock

Fraser Fir

The Fraser fir is very fragrant, and the needles are dark green. These trees have a more compact look, and their limbs are very sturdy, making them great at holding onto heavy ornaments.

Noble Fir

The noble fir is a long-lasting Christmas tree that has the classic look. It has short limbs and needles when compared to some of the other trees on the list. These trees are hardy and hold heavy ornaments well. They tend to last throughout the entire holiday season without issue if they are watered properly.

Balsam F
Image Credit: Menno van der Haven, Shutterstock

White Fir

The white fir tree has soft needles that stay in place without dropping. They are a beautiful blueish green coloration and tend to have a more expensive Christmas tree variety because they have a lengthy growth period.

Blue Spruce

The blue spruce is well known for its gorgeous silverish blue needles and their flawless symmetrical shape. They do not drop needles easily unless they become too warm. They are sturdy and hold heavy ornaments well. This tree isn’t too fragrant, but the needles have an unsavory smell if crushed.

Colorado blue spruce
Image Credit: barmalini, Shutterstock

Norway Spruce

The Norway spruce is a cone-shaped tree that is beautifully colored in forest green. The needles are quite sharp and drop easily, which is a downfall for this kind. The scent of this tree is very mild and pleasant.

Black Hills Spruce

Black Hills spruces have sturdy needles and tend to hold all kinds of ornaments. These trees feature a grayish green color, and while they do tend to drop needles regularly, it’s not as bad as some other types. The needles do smell very pungent when they are crushed.

Scotch Pine

The Scotch pine is a very popular Christmas tree variety that holds onto its needles fairly well. These trees tend to have more crooked trunks and they are a bit duller in color compared to some other varieties. They have a strong, long-lasting pine scent.

White Pine

White pine has a beautiful display of soft, blueish-green needles that do not drop excessively. They do not have a strong scent, so they are great for those that have allergies or are sensitive to the smell of pine. These trees don’t do well with heavy ornaments and will wilt easily if they are deprived of water.

trees & plants divider Final Thoughts

There may be several different types of live Christmas trees to choose from when the holiday season rolls around, but each type has the same watering needs. Watering your live Christmas tree properly is essential to keeping it healthy and vibrant throughout the Christmas season.

Featured Image Credit: Євгенія Височина, Unsplash


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