The Christmas tree is the centrepiece for the festive season, but how long does a Christmas tree last inside? Will your tree still be just as healthy and happy at the end of the holiday season as it was at the start? Before you purchase a freshly cut tree from the Christmas tree farm, here is everything you need to know about its lifespan.
Most Christmas trees can last up to five weeks or more, ensuring your holiday season is merry and vibrant from start to finish.
All you have to do is make sure you purchase a healthy tree and follow our proper care tips to keep it verdant and upright with needles firmly attached.
First, Choose a High-Quality Tree
Before we get stuck into real Christmas tree care, you need to pick the perfect tree for the festive period. You have numerous options available when finding a fresh-cut Christmas tree:
Firs, including the Nordmann Fir, Korean Fir, and Fraser Fir, have soft needles and a classic shape.
Pines, such as the Scots Pine, for a traditional green tree and amazing fresh scent.
Spruces, including the iconic Norway Spruce and intriguing Blue Spruce, for something a little different.
Typically, firs are the most long-lasting and will retain the charm of evergreen trees for the full five weeks or more. Pine and spruce Christmas trees last four to five weeks, but may start to drop needles more notably towards the end of the season.
The most important thing to note when understanding how long Christmas trees last is that it all depends on when they are cut. Those convenient trees sitting outside the supermarket may already be a week or two into the five-week lifespan!
To ensure you receive a healthy Christmas tree that will last the full five weeks, order from a trusted seller. At Christmas Trees Direct, our UK local farm-grown trees are fresh cut for every order, arriving with healthy and green pliable needles - a good sign that the tree is healthy and hydrated.
Real Christmas Tree Care Guide
With your freshly cut tree on its way to your home, here are our four essential tips to prolong the life of your magical real tree. Many of these tips also apply to our long-lasting pot-grown Christmas trees.
1. Prepping the Tree for Your Home
How long a Christmas tree lasts really comes down to hydration. If you need to tidy up your home before bringing the cut tree inside, keep the tree somewhere cool and dark. The garage or shed is ideal. You should also keep it in a bucket of water just to stop the trunk from drying out.
When you are ready to bring your cut tree into your home, cut off one inch at the base. Cut straight across rather than at an angle. You can even keep this piece of the trunk as an ornament!
Cutting the tree like this removes any resin that has built up on the base. Resin is naturally produced when the tree is first cut, and it can prevent your live Christmas tree from absorbing water once it's inside your home.
Most real Christmas trees will shed a few needles during this process as they are moved around - that's totally normal, and there's no reason to panic.
2. Use a Sturdy Tree Stand or Pot with Drainage
To ensure your cut Christmas tree remains a healthy tree, use a Christmas tree stand. Choose one that has a water reservoir and is easy for you to adjust (foot pumps will save your back). Stands prevent the tree from getting knocked over, which can damage any living plant. Of course, the water reservoir makes watering your tree easy - water absorption is key to ensure your tree lives a long and merry life.
Always choose a stand that's the right size for the tree trunk: trying to narrow the trunk to fit a small stand can reduce the amount of water the tree can absorb, thus speeding up the drying process.
For potted trees, place the nursery pot inside a larger pot. Always choose a pot with good drainage so the soil isn't sitting in a puddle and rotting the root ball.
3. Choose the Perfect Spot
The next step for Christmas tree care is to place your tree somewhere cool. If the air is dry, the green needles may turn brown more quickly, so you can try using a humidifier or plant mister if you have one! Always avoid placing your tree next to heat sources, like radiators. This also applies to under-floor heating, as warming the water in the tree stand can encourage mould.
While cut trees don't need access to sunlight, how long a potted Christmas tree lasts depends on the amount of light it receives. To ensure that the potted tree can survive beyond Christmas, keep it somewhere cool with direct sunlight.
Extra tip: use LED Christmas lights for your tree, as they don't get hot when they sparkle. This will ensure needles stay fresh, cool, and firmly attached for as long as possible. You don't need to be the National Fire Protection Association to realise that hot lights on a dry tree are a major fire hazard!
4. Check Water Levels Daily
Whether you have a fresh-cut tree or a potted tree, you should ensure you keep the tree hydrated daily.
For potted trees, that means digging your finger into the top inch of soil. If it feels dry beneath the surface, water until it is moist and let the excess drain away.
For fresh-cut trees, top up the water reservoir with fresh, clean water. Despite advice you might see online, you don't need to add vinegar, sugar or other plant foods. Your tree will be happy with plain water up until Christmas day and beyond.
There's no exact amount of water that you should provide each day. The amount of water your tree needs depends on how many needles it has, the general size of the tree, the temperature and humidity of your home, plus the variety of trees. Always double-check water levels instead of assuming the tree has enough moisture.
Removing Your Christmas Tree
When the tree is starting to lose needles, feels brittle to the touch, and the branches start to sag, it is time to remove the tree from your home. Don't wait until there are very few green needles left, as having a tree with many brown needles in your home is a fire hazard. Dry trees lead to Christmas tree fires, so we want your tree outside before it gets to that stage!
With your tree outside, use the vacuum hose without an attachment to hoover up those dropped needles. As for the tree, its job is done, and you can either compost, recycle, or feed it to farms/zoo animals in need.
If you have a potted tree, take it outside after the season and either re-pot it or plant it in the ground. Learn more in our guide, What to do with your pot-grown tree after Christmas.
Troubleshooting Tips to Keep Your Cut Tree Alive!
Having trouble with your real tree? Here's what we recommend for our Christmas tree care guide.
Needles feeling brittle - for a naturally soft-needled tree (like the Fraser Fir), this is a sign of dehydration.
Shedding needles prematurely - if the tree is only a few days or weeks old, shedding needles is a clear sign that it needs more water.
Shedding needles at the end of five weeks - no tree lives forever; this is the natural progression of a Christmas tree.
Excess resin on the branches - there will be resin on the trunk of the tree when purchased. Cut off one inch of the trunk to remove this. If you notice more resin, try increasing the water.
Drooping branches - either your ornaments are too heavy, the tree naturally has soft branches (check variety details), or it is nearing the end.
The reservoir doesn't need refilling - if the tree looks fresh and alive, it just doesn't need more water. If it's looking shabby with falling needles, the tree has reached the end of its life, and no amount of water will help.
How long does a potted Christmas tree last?
A poor-quality potted Christmas tree lasts around two weeks inside or longer if it is high-quality with an intact root ball. Providing it with water and sunlight prolongs its life.
How long does a cut Christmas tree last?
How long real Christmas trees last depends on the variety? Most cut Christmas trees will survive for around five weeks.
What type of real Christmas tree lasts the longest?
Fir trees last the longest when properly cared for, including the Nordman Fir and Fraser Fir.