How to Revive a Dying Christmas Tree

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It's not fun when your Christmas tree seems to be dying before Christmas Day arrives. When a Christmas tree drops pine needles or the needles are turning brown, brittle and dry, it's time to act quickly; otherwise, the tree could become a major fire hazard.

Whether you're dealing with a live potted Christmas tree or a cut tree in a tree stand, a sufficient water level is the key to keeping that tree as healthy as possible. Treat the pine tree as you would any potted plant or even fresh-cut flowers, ensuring that the tree has plenty of water on a daily basis.


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Reviving a Potted Christmas Trees

1. Mist the pine needles or use anti-dessicant

Mist the pine needles to help prevent them from drying out. Another way to keep the needles fresh is to use spray or an anti-desiccant designed for house plants.


2. Place tree in waterproof container

If you bought the live tree from a tree farm, place the tree in a waterproof container to make it easier to sufficiently water the tree. Water a potted Christmas tree daily with at least 1 to 2 inches water.


3. Add ice atop soil

Placing ice cubes or crushed ice atop the soil helps keep the soil wet in between waterings. Once the pine tree is indoors, keep it away from heat sources such as fireplaces and radiators. If you're planning to plant the live tree in your yard after the holiday season, do your best to only keep the tree inside for seven to 10 days. Longer than that, and the tree may acclimate to the indoor temperature.


4. Choose good indoor location, LED lights

Choose a holiday location for your live Christmas tree away from direct sunlight and overly drafty areas. Use LED lights instead of old-school Christmas lights on a live pine tree, as the heat from old-fashioned lights dries out the pine needles prematurely.


5. Re-acclimate tree to cold weather

Once the holiday season is over, place the tree in a cool, somewhat dark area such as the garage and let it re-acclimate to cold weather, if you live in a cold-winter climate. Plan on planting the tree in spring or when the ground softens, but remember to water the tree and keep it healthy in the meantime.


Reviving a Fresh-cut Tree

Much like buying a holiday flower arrangement, it's best to buy a fresh-cut tree closer to Christmas Day instead of many weeks ahead of time; otherwise, it could look like a dying Christmas tree before the holiday arrives.



1. Saw a slice from trunk bottom

Saw off the bottom 1/2 inch to 1 inch of the trunk, as this ensures the tree is able to absorb the water. Make the cut horizontal, perpendicular to the sides of the trunk, which helps ensure the tree sits properly in the tree stand. Forgetting to cut a slice from the bottom of the trunk could be why the tree seems to be dying too fast.


2. Check water reservoir daily

Check the water reservoir in your tree stand daily because the tree needs 1 quart to 1 gallon of new fresh water every day. The first day your tree is in the tree stand, it's likely to absorb a lot of water since it hasn't been sitting in water at the retail location.

3. Keep trunk bottom submerged

Also make sure the bottom of the trunk is fully submerged at all times. If not, the fresh cut you've made could seal up, preventing the tree from absorbing water efficiently. If you bring a tree home and aren't able to put it in the tree stand the same day, stick the bottom of the tree in a bucket of water after you've cut the bottom of the trunk. This helps keep the Christmas tree as fresh as possible for as long as possible.



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