These 5 tips will help me keep my Christmas tree alive for longer this year

Christmas tree in a living room next to fireplace and orange garland.
(Image credit: Holly Cockburn)

From picking the tree and transporting it home, to decorating and vacuuming up pine needles - a lot goes into getting your home set up for the holidays. With all this effort to consider, it's important to ensure that you know how to keep your Christmas tree alive for longer. This way, it can remain a beautiful centerpiece in your home for well after the main celebrations have ended. 

To enjoy it for the maximum amount of time possible, you may choose to simply put it up earlier. This makes the right care even more vital, as you'll still want it to look full and bushy when the big day arrives. Meanwhile, if you're traveling over Christmas, like me, you'll want to make sure you're not returning home to a limp and lifeless tree. It might be your first real tree too, in which case use this advice as a starting point for general care. 

We've consulted the experts from Pines and Needles, who have delivered the know-how on how to properly care for your Christmas tree this season. Learn from the following tips and you can enjoy the smell and aesthetic of your tree for longer. 

1. Prep the trunk

Just like you need to trim flower stems before you place them in a vase, the same should be done for Christmas trees. This ensures that your tree is as fresh as possible when drinking up the water, so it will hopefully live longer. 

 Veronika Kusak, Director of Pines and Needles, explains "Just before you install your tree, saw off the bottom 1” (3cm) of the trunk. This creates a fresh cut and opens up the pores in the bark, which otherwise can block up with sap within a few hours of being cut. The tree is then able to drink water through these pores via capillary action." If you don't fancy sawing away at the trunk yourself, why not use one of the best chainsaws to save a bit of time. 

2. Create a routine

Think of your Christmas tree like a baby - routine is key for everyone's happiness. Your tree will thrive not only in the right environment, but also by ensuring it's fed, watered, and rotated at similar intervals during the day. 

Although it can be tempting to angle your tree so that its best side is always on show and sparse spots are hidden, you should remember to regularly turn it so that each side is seeing the sunlight. This will make it less likely for the needles to drop, making it look better and also resulting in less vacuuming for you.

3. Keep away from heat

One of the quickest ways to dry a tree out, and subsequently kill it faster, is by positioning it close to a radiator or heat source. 'Tis the season to have your central heating and dehumidifiers running, so if this is the case in your home then place your tree in a cooler spot - maybe try next to a window! 

4. Keep it hydrated

The most important part of caring for a Christmas tree is to remember to water it - just like any plant. 

What the expert says...

Veronika Kusak, Director of Pines and Needles, says, "when water level drops below the tree’s trunk, sap will re-seal the bark within a few hours, preventing the tree from drinking any further water even if you then re-fill the Christmas tree stand. 

Veronika says, "Place your tree in plain water - not soil or sand that would block the pores in the bark. This is best achieved by using a specially designed Christmas tree stand. Many precious hours can be wasted trying to make a tree stand up straight in an ordinary bucket using just bricks or stones!"

It's also important to do this regularly, rather than waiting too long for the base to dry out as "when the water level drops below the tree’s trunk, sap will re-seal the bark within a few hours, preventing the tree from drinking any further water even if you then re-fill the Christmas tree stand."

Veronika also noted that "your Christmas tree may drink 2-3 pints (1-2 liters) of water per day, depending on its size and your central heating settings." Being the centerpiece of your Christmas day is thirsty work! 

5. Feed the tree

Commercial Christmas tree feeds are popular with those who want to fast-track how long their Christmas tree lives, and these are readily available in most garden centres. If you're in favor of a DIY option, mixing a tablespoon of corn syrup into the water can act as a food source to help your Christmas tree stay in good shape.

Can you keep your tree until next year?

Whether you're thinking about the planet or wanting to save yourself some money down the line, asking "can you keep your tree until next year?" is a worthwhile feat. 

Depending on the climate where you live, you may be able to plant it in your yard. If this is the case, research the requirements of the Christmas tree species to be sure you can plant it in the right environment and with adequate space. You will, of course, need to ensure you purchase a tree with roots to do this - so it's something to bear in mind before you buy. 

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Holly Cockburn
TTR Features Editor, Cleaning

Holly, the former Features Editor of Top Ten Reviews, brings a wealth of experience in creating practical home content. With a background in freelance writing and product copy, she is dedicated to producing thorough features that help readers make the most of their homes and gardens.

With contributions from