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If you've chosen a real fir tree for the holidays this year you might be wondering how often you should water your Christmas tree to ensure it lasts as long as possible.
There will be those that might not be aware that even the best real Christmas trees need watering, left alone asking how often but it's a hugely important task, far more so than perfecting your Christmas tree decorating ideas.
Keeping a freshly-cut fir well-watered is about more than merely keeping your Christmas tree theme looking its best on lush greenery, it's also about avoiding a dry, potentially dangerous fire hazard for your home. “A dry Christmas tree is highly flammable,” warn the experts at Alan Boswell Landlord Building Insurance (opens in new tab). “For those opting for real trees, make sure to keep them hydrated to avoid this."
So just how much is enough when it comes to keeping Christmas trees hydrated? We asked horticultural experts and, much like how often should you water succulents, it would seem the gardening pros are unanimous in their advice – and it's more than most of us on the w&h team would have ever guessed.
How often should you water a Christmas tree?
How long a real Christmas lasts is very much down to being well-watered. This is even more important when buying real Christmas trees online because the time in transit could possibly affect how it's cared for.
"You should water your real Christmas tree with at least 500ml of water, once a day," advises Liam Walsh, a horticultural expert from Log Delivery (opens in new tab). "This is really important, as Christmas trees can actually take in up to 2 liters of water a day, depending on the size. Get yourself into a good routine of watering your Christmas tree so you don't forget, to ensure that you're not letting your tree dry out."
“You ought to water your Christmas tree on a daily basis, in the same way, you do for your favorite fresh-cut flowers or potted plants," agrees David Denyer, award-winning in-house florist at eflorist (opens in new tab).
"The amount, however, is largely dependent on the temperature of the room. If you’re someone who needs the heating on full blast from October to March every year, then your Christmas tree might need as much as three pints of water in a single day," says David. "Generally speaking, it’s best to keep your tree in a cool location with limited exposure to the sun. This, in tandem with regular watering, should see your tree last for roughly six weeks.”
"As long as there is always water for the tree to take in, then your tree will stay healthy for as long as possible," adds Liam.
Our team of experts shared these top watering tips:
- Cut the base to encourage better feeding: Before you've decorated it in your finest array of the best Christmas decorations, experts advise cutting the trunk for better results when watering. "As soon as you take your tree out of the net, you should cut 1-2 inches off the bottom of the trunk before placing it in a large bucket or tree stand," advises William Mitchell, gardening expert, and owner of Sutton Manor Nursery (opens in new tab). "This opens up the tree’s pores, allowing it to easily absorb water. If you don’t cut the bottom of the trunk, it will remain blocked with sap and will struggle to drink water, no matter how often you feed it."
- Don't add sand to your stand to support the trunk: "You should refrain from putting your tree in soil or sand as this will also block the pores, making water absorption extremely difficult," says William.
- Test water levels daily with your finger: "If your tree is in a stand keep the water reservoir topped up," says Dobbies’ (opens in new tab)Horticultural Expert, Marcus Eyles. "Test with your finger daily to see if it needs more water - if you can feel the water at the bottom of the stand, don’t add any more."
- Keep the soil damp for potted trees: "If your tree is potted, keep the compost damp but don’t overwater it," Marcus warns. "Test the soil with your finger - if the top layer feels dry then add water.”
Should I spray my Christmas tree with water?
Ideally, you need to water from the base because this is where the roots would take up water if the tree was still planted in the ground. Spraying the tree can help to prevent the tree from looking dehydrated but this would only be necessary if it's not being watered enough. Think of it the same way you would your skin, moisturizer can hydrate the skin on a surface level but if you don't drink enough water you're already dehydrated on the inside where it matters most.
“Spraying your Christmas tree with water can reduce its dryness in the short term and lower the number of needles that fall off. However, it will not prolong the tree’s life," confirms William.
"You should avoid spraying your tree with additives as they are unnecessary and will not provide any benefit. The most effective way to look after your tree is by watering the trunk with water alone.”
What do you put in Christmas tree water?
Essentially using just water alone should be sufficient, according to our experts. "Reviving a droopy Christmas tree is a headache that no one wants to endure, with those celebrating the festive season turning to bizarre anecdotal hacks ranging from lemonade to Viagra to help keep their tree alive," reveals David. "However, a constant supply of water is all that your tree should realistically need."
However, you can add a dash of baking soda to the water to kill off any potential bacteria in the water to help keep your Christmas tree alive for longer and looking its best.
What happens if you don't water a Christmas tree?
What happens if you don't water a Christmas tree is simple: it will die prematurely – and with potentially dangerous consequences.
A real Christmas tree indoors, without water, becomes dried out very quickly, given that our homes are warm due to central heating and trees prefer to be outside in the cold air with more moisture. "Avoid neglecting your tree at all costs," William warns. "If you don’t regularly water your tree, it will become dry and brittle, making it a dangerous fire hazard. first and foremost."
"Also the tree will droop, the needles will fall off and it will give off an unpleasant odor," William points out, which is the last thing you want before the big day.
Sean Lade, irrigation expert, and director of Easy Garden Irrigation (opens in new tab)offers this professional advice: “If you do forget to add water for a few days, dried sap will seal the trunk and slow down water absorption. If this happens, make a fresh cut and promptly refill the stand with water."
Keep your tree hydrated and always check your Christmas tree lights, ensure they have no frayed wires, and remember to switch them off at night or when you leave the house.
On that note, we're off to give our Christmas trees a well-deserved drink of water.
Tamara is a highly experienced homes and interiors journalist, with a career spanning 19 years. Now the Lifestyle Editor of womanandhome.com, she has spent the last 16 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, and it’s with these award-winning interiors teams that she gained a wealth of knowledge and honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing about every aspect of lifestyle and interiors.
With a keen eye for the latest interior trends, there's not a lot she doesn't know about home decor – whether it’s what colour we should be painting our living rooms next season, or if the latest 'must-have' buys are actually worth investing in.
A true homes and interiors expert, Tamara has served as an ambassador for leading interior brands on multiple occasions, including appearing on Matalan’s The Show and presenting at top interiors trend events such as the Autumn Fair and Spring Fair.
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