No matter how good they look, artificial Christmas trees just don’t capture the same type of Christmas spirit as a live tree. The festive event of either chopping one down in the forest or picking one from a Christmas tree lot is often an event the whole family looks forward to all year long. But how many times have you found the perfect tree only to discover a few days or weeks into enjoying it, it loses the pep in its step?
While watering your Christmas tree at the trunk is important to keep it alive and looking fresh, many people skip out on spraying the needles and branches with water. Spraying your Christmas tree with water can keep needles from falling off and drying out, along with giving the tree added moisture.
These tips can help you choose the right tools for spraying your Christmas tree, determine when to spray it, and learn how much to spray it each time. Read on for the best reasons to spray your Christmas tree with water and the best methods for doing so!
Most Common Types Of Christmas Trees
There are many types of Christmas trees, but most fall into the category of pine trees, which are trees with needles that require moisture. According to the USDA, a few of the most common types of Christmas trees are Douglas fir, balsam fir, noble fir, blue spruce, and Scotch pine.
None of these trees is immune to the seasonal problem encountered by families all over the country (and the world!) who look to bring a live tree into their homes once a year at Christmastime. The worst problem for Christmas trees is dryness, a problem that is compounded because winter is, for most homes, the driest time of the year.
The dry outdoor air of winter combined with the dry indoor air of artificial heat makes a sad environment for a live tree. However, you can take some steps to make your home more hospitable to your Christmas tree this year.
This will help you preserve those beautiful needles, characteristic Christmas tree branches, and, perhaps most importantly, that Christmas tree smell!
Since pine trees are the most common, understanding how they grow can help you learn how to keep your Christmas tree looking fresh! Check out our full guide on the timeline of pine tree growth if you’re considering getting this type.
If you’re thinking about your next tree – get a fresh one and cut it down yourself.
Here’s me cutting down our tree last year – it always makes for a memorable experience 🙂
As a side note, we actually got a great deal on this tree due to the lack of needles on the bottom, so we just did a little more leg work and chopped those off / trimmed the tree. SO – always keep your eye out for stuff like that!
OK, now back to it.
Your Christmas Tree Probably Needs More Water Than You Think
It is standard for Christmas tree stands to include a reservoir for water, like this Cinco Express Christmas Tree Stand. According to the University of Georgia, your Christmas tree stand should be big enough to hold about a gallon of water, and you need to refill the water in the stand every day.
Christmas Trees Need A ‘Fresh Cut’ To Absorb Water
It is also common for Christmas tree lots to offer fresh cuts off the bottom of the tree trunk so that water can be more readily absorbed as soon as you get your Christmas tree home and in its stand.
According to North Carolina State University, a fresh cut is a very important part of helping your Christmas tree get enough water. The cut should be about ½ inch off the bottom of the tree’s trunk, and you can make new fresh cuts throughout the season if you find you need to up the water consumption capabilities of your Christmas tree.
Some people recommend additives to help your tree stay fresh, but Michigan State University recommends that you add nothing at all to your tree’s water; Christmas trees need fresh water and that is all.
Spraying Your Christmas Tree Branches With Water Keeps It Hydrated
Despite all the emphasis put on keeping your Christmas tree hydrated, few people have ever heard of spraying a Christmas tree’s branches with water, and most people rely on that stand reservoir to keep their tree alive. Unfortunately, that method does not always work, and many trees are standing in a thick blanket of their own needles long before the presents are opened.
So, how do you keep that from happening? You spray the needles themselves. This simply means using a spray bottle or mister to apply water directly to your Christmas tree’s needles and branches, from the star on top to the presents below (but make sure to cover the presents!)
If you have ever visited a botanical garden or greenhouse, you have probably noticed that they regularly mist the tropical plants with water, creating a very humid environment, much like that of a jungle or rainforest. These plants rely on water from all around, not just at their roots. You can think of your Christmas tree similarly.
If you do not water your tree at all, you can expect a heavy loss of needles and your tree will appear dry quickly. Therefore, watering your tree is very important, and many people go to great lengths to make sure their trees get enough water in the reservoirs of the tree stands.
Spraying the Christmas tree gives it that extra moisture in parts of the tree that are not hydrated enough from the water that is taken in through the tree’s trunk. Read on for some specific ways your Christmas tree can benefit this year from a little extra water.
Spraying Your Christmas Tree Keeps It From Losing Its Needles
One of the biggest problems with indoor Christmas trees is the loss of needles over the holiday season. It is quite common to have an enormous pile of pine needles lying on the floor of your living room when the New Year comes around and you take the tree outside.
Needles can also turn brown when they dry out, which does not look very festive!
The primary culprit in needle loss is dryness. While the water the tree drinks from its trunk can counter some of the dryness of the needles, you can give them an added boost with some added water. Spraying your Christmas tree’s needles directly with water keeps the needles from getting too dry, keeping the needles green and on the branches longer.
More moisture for the needles can also help them keep their green color. Dry, brown needles can quickly make a beautiful Christmas tree look sad. If you spray the needles regularly and water the tree from the trunk every day, you can fight this common problem and keep your Christmas tree looking full and healthy for weeks.
When pine needles begin littering the floor, just remember they have uses after they are dried out. Pine needles are harvested for pine straw, which you can learn the uses of here.
Spraying Your Christmas Tree Helps It Live Longer
If you regularly mist the needles and branches of your tree, it will keep the tree alive longer. This results not only in helping the tree retain its needles but also in keeping the tree’s limbs and branches from drooping.
Nothing can ruin the appearance of a Christmas tree faster than dried, brittle limbs falling toward the ground. Sometimes this can be so bad that the branches fold in on themselves, causing ornaments to fall and break, strands of Christmas lights to fall haphazardly, and presents under the tree to become hidden by a tiny forest of dead branches.
To keep your tree from this fate, keep it watered and hydrated. While this type of branch drooping is extreme, it happens most often to very dry trees. If you have experienced this type of Christmas tree demise in the past, your home is likely very dry and you will need to take drastic measures to keep your Christmas trees alive, hydrated, and fresh.
How To Properly Water And Spray Your Christmas Tree
The only tool you need for this method is a sprayer. Luckily, misting plants is a method used by many house plant enthusiasts and gardeners, so there are several options you can pick from to spray your Christmas tree.
Misters, like Continuous Spray Mister will keep your tree’s needles moist without soaking the tree and turning it into a dripping mess. So it’s probably best to use a mister instead of a standard spray bottle.
But, in a pinch, you can just rinse out an empty spray bottle from your all-purpose kitchen spray or something similar. Just make sure that there aren’t any residual cleaning supplies in it, as those have the potential to damage your Christmas tree, undoing all the great work you were doing by spraying it.
You can also buy a new spray bottle, like the JohnBee Spray bottle, if you want to make sure you are only spraying water on your tree and nothing else, like a cleaner.
How Often To Spray Your Christmas Tree With Water
Luckily, if you keep your tree stand’s reservoir full, you may not need to spray your Christmas tree with water every day. A good place to start is to mist or spray your Christmas tree every two or three days.
Some experts recommend spraying it every day, so monitor it in the meantime. If the needles look or feel dry, you might need to spray them more often.
The humidity level of your home or the weather outside your home can also affect how often you should spray the tree. If it’s very rainy or you live in a warmer, more humid climate, you can probably spray your tree less. If you live in a very dry climate, you might need to spray it more often.
Another factor for humidity can be the temperature outside and inside your home. If it is very cold out, you are probably going to have your home’s heat turned up to compensate and make your house more comfortable.
As you probably know, this usually creates very dry air in your home, so the colder it is outside, the more likely it is that you will need to increase the frequency with which you spray your Christmas tree with water.
Fighting Extreme Christmas Tree Dry-Out
If the Christmas tree described earlier sounds familiar to you–a dried out tree, falling needles everywhere, and branches pointing horizontally to the ground–you need to take extreme measures to keep your tree from drying out.
Here are some steps you should take that might differ from those who live in more humid environments:
- Check your Christmas tree’s water level every single day. To make sure it is getting enough water, don’t worry about the exact amount in your tree stand’s reservoir. Just fill it up every day.
- Spray your Christmas tree with water every single day. You might also consider going from a mister to a spray bottle in this situation. Your ornaments are going to get wet, but the payoff might be worth it. Spray the tree until the needles are wet. And don’t forget to spray the branches, too! The more water you can get on the tree within reason, the better.
- But don’t forget about the gifts under the tree! Move gifts out of the way each day before spraying so you don’t end up soaking all those Christmas presents. Keeping your tree alive might take more work in this scenario, but when the branches are healthy and the needles are green and fresh, you will probably think it was worth all the work.
- Consider putting a humidifier near your tree for the duration of the Christmas season. This can constantly deliver a stream of cool moisture to your tree all day long to help stop it from drying out.
Eventually you will have to discard your Christmas tree. When that time comes, you can use the pine wood for many things!
Make Sure Not To Water The Decorations On Your Tree
Before you spray your Christmas tree, make sure you have unplugged all the lights on the tree. Don’t rely on an on and off switch; you will need to unplug the lights.
You should also pay attention to the types of ornaments and decorations you have put on your tree. A good start is to give your Christmas tree a thorough spraying all over before you put on any lights or ornaments. Allow the branches and needles to dry, then string the lights and decorate your tree. This will buy you a few days before you have to spray the tree again.
When you get ready to spray your tree after it has been decorated, you can use a couple of different methods to prevent any damage to your Christmas tree ornaments and decorations.
First, make a note of where the most important ornaments on your tree are, and just don’t spray those areas. The branch holding the ornament that commemorates your child’s first Christmas? Just skip that one.
The same goes for any other ornaments that are of particular significance to you.
If you find that all of your ornaments fall into this category, determine whether you think any of them are waterproof. A light misting of water will not harm many types of Christmas ornaments. Those that will be harmed can simply be skipped or even temporarily removed while you spray your tree.
Once you have finished spraying your tree, give it some time to dry before you plug the lights in again. A good time to spray your tree might be right before you go to sleep, as that is likely when you would turn off all the Christmas tree lights anyway.
This way, your tree will be dry enough for the lights to be plugged in again when you wake in the morning.
You might also want to move the Christmas gifts out from under the tree before you spray it, or you can cover them with a waterproof material until you finish misting your tree.
These steps might seem like a hassle, but when your tree is still green and fresh at the end of the season, you won’t regret it!
Some Final Tips On Choosing A Fresh Christmas Tree
Now that you are in the festive spirit, it’s time to put all your new knowledge of Christmas trees to good use.
But first, a few final tips you can use before it’s even time to water your tree.
- Choose a tree that seems fresh from the beginning. It’s much easier to keep a tree hydrated than to rehabilitate a dried-out, dying tree.
- Test the needles on your Christmas tree before you buy it. If they seem fresh and hydrated, and most stay on a branch if you pull it, this is probably a good, fresh tree.
- Choose a Christmas tree lot known for high-quality trees. You can even ask where the trees are from, how long ago they were cut, and whether they were kept covered during transport. These are all factors that can affect the freshness of the tree and, therefore, the tree’s life once you bring it into your home.
- Buy your Christmas tree on the same day you plan to set it up in its stand. Don’t buy a Christmas tree and then leave it wrapped in netting outside for a few days before you put it in its stand. Those few days can cause the tree to lose a lot of valuable water, meaning that you might see more needles on the floor on day one than you expect several weeks in.
- If you want to make sure your Christmas tree is fresh from day one, you might be able to cut one down yourself. Many Christmas tree farms across the country offer this option, which allows you to cut the tree down on the same day you bring it home.
Other states have designated forest areas where you can obtain a permit to cut down a tree in the wild. Don’t wander off into the woods and choose just any tree, though; make sure you are not on private property or in an area that requires a permit.
Either way, cutting down the tree yourself or having one cut down the same day you purchase it is a sure way to know how fresh your Christmas tree is from the beginning.
That’s A Wrap!
Picking out and decorating a Christmas tree is a highlight of the season for many families. Seeing that same tree dry out, droop, and lose all its needles before the stockings have been filled is a real disappointment during the Christmas season.
Try to prevent that from happening this year by spraying your tree with water and following our other tips for keeping your tree fresh from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.
Chastagner, G. A., & Riley, K. L. (2003). Postharvest quality of noble and Nordmann fir Christmas trees. HortScience, 38(3), 419-421.
Smith, W. A., & McClung, W. A. (1967). Safe Use of Christmas Trees. Leaflet/Texas Agricultural Extension Service; no. 722.
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