This Is How Often You Should Be Watering Your Christmas Tree

Keep your tree festive and fresh for the season.

Jewel tone Christmas tree ornaments and packages
Photo: Marta Pérez; Styling: Vero Designs

You've corralled the family, walked the lot, looked at every last tree, debated which was too Charlie Brown and which looked like it belonged in the center of town. You settled on one that was juuust right, brought it home, trimmed it to your heart's content, and now it's time to simply enjoy, right? Not so fast. Unlike most holiday decor, it's not just about easy setup and smart storage. Opting for a living Christmas tree over artificial comes with a bit of maintenance, mostly in the form of watering. As experts at the Department of Horticulture and Department of Forestry at Michigan State University advise, there are three essential factors to having a tree that's festive for the whole season: "Fresh tree, fresh cut, fresh water." Here's what you need to know.

How To Prepare

Before you ever water, you'll need to make sure your tree is able to absorb the water in the first place. Start with a tree that you know is fresh. An easy test to find out how fresh the tree is to gently pull a branch between your thumb and fingers; a fresh tree should lose no needles in the process.

As the Farmer's Almanac frames it, think of your Christmas tree as a giant cut flower. You'll want to make sure the bottom is freshly trimmed so it is not sealed off and can take up water. The Almanac advises to trim at least one inch off. Finally, much like when you bring flowers home from the store, get the tree in water as soon as possible.

How Often Do I Water?

Your best bet is to find a time you can remember to check the water levels every day and refill any water lost over the last 24 hours, making sure the water level never dips so low that the tree's cut end is exposed.

How Much Do I Water?

Did you know a tree can absorb a gallon of water in just 24 hours depending on the size? Once set up, a healthy tree should absorb water, meaning you will regularly need to refill your tree stand. MSU advises that a healthy, living Christmas tree can absorb "up to 1 quart of water per day for each inch of diameter on the cut end." That means a tree with a trunk three inches in diameter would need three quarts per day. A properly sized tree stand will hold enough water for your tree's needs.

Should I Add Anything to the Water?

Many old wives' tales advise adding a variety of concoctions to your tree's water to make it last longer, from aspirin to sugar to bleach and more. This is not necessary; your tree will be plenty happy with a refreshing refill of fresh clean water.

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