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How Long Does a Cut Christmas Tree Last?

As the holiday season dawns again, it’s time to start thinking about putting up decorations, planning meals, and getting the quintessential Christmas tree selected, set up, and decorated.

It might be a bit of a surprise (or perhaps not a surprise at all!), but most of the Christmas trees produced in the United States come from Oregon. Following closely behind are North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

Bringing in a fresh-cut Christmas tree can bring back memories from your own childhood, the tree a decorated centerpiece of the Christmas affair. With the transportation, carrying it in, setting it up, and decorating it, a common question that continues to come up is, “How long does a cut Christmas tree last?”

Once Cut, How Long Does a Christmas Tree Last?

The short answer is about four to five weeks, but there are some tips and tricks that can help you extend the life of your cut Christmas tree. The more of the following tips you practice, the longer your tree will be lush, full, and evergreen.

These tips will help keep your cut Christmas tree lasting as long as possible.

1. Select a Christmas Tree That Is Healthy

mr-tree-how-long-does-a-cut-christmas-tree-lastFirst, decide where you’re buying the tree, whether from a tree lot alongside the road or a stationary place like a garden store or nursery. If from a roadside set-up, it’s important to take into consideration that many of the trees have come from out-of-state, and they have likely been exposed to many elements, such as destructive winds and even rain or snow. These external factors can already undermine the health of the tree.

If you’re looking for the best possible option (and aim to keep your tree fresh for as long as possible), check out a local Christmas tree farm to see what they have to offer. Whatever you decide, here are a few things to look for when selecting a cut Christmas tree:

  • Look for a uniform green color. As green as you can find. Once you see brown needles, you know that the tree has already started to expire.
  • Choose a tree from an area that is shaded. Avoid trees that have been sitting in the sun.
  • Feel the tree. Take some of the branches in your hand and see whether needles fall off or not.
  • Give the tree a shakedown. Either with some help or alone. Lift the tree slightly and then drop it back down. Brown needles will fall off, but if lots of green ones do, then keep perusing the various trees. Losing green “healthy” needles is a sign the tree won’t last as long as its counterparts.

2. Have the Trunk Trimmed Before You Head Home

Some locations will automatically do a little trim, but for the most possible freshness, make sure that you also give the tree a trim at home. When you cut the end of the tree’s trunk (or even stems of flowers), it exposes it to the air. If it goes directly into water thereafter, there is an increased likelihood of it surviving longer.

If you’ve arrived home with your tree selection and won’t be putting it in the stand (with water) right away, the best way to keep it fresh is to stick the tree in a bucket of water. Be aware that any real trees should be kept out of the elements in a protected area, such as a garage or shed. Once it’s time to put the tree in the stand, cut about an inch off of the end so the tree is fresh and will look nicer for a longer time.

3. Keep the Christmas Tree Hydrated

Once the tree is up and decorated, it sometimes can fall into the background until the evening before or the morning of the holiday. But you need to make sure that the tree has enough water because once it runs out, the end will oxidize (and unless you cut another inch off the bottom), it won’t be able to drink the water again, leading to a quicker demise.

There is a rule when it comes to keeping Christmas trees hydrated: based on the diameter of the tree, fill the stand with a quart of water per inch of diameter. Although people might say to add other things to the water, it’s always best to keep it naturally hydrated and only with water. It’s also best to check the levels daily.

4. Keep the Christmas Tree at a Safe Distance From All Sources of Heat

There are myriad Christmas cards with supremely decorated trees next to a blazing fireplace, but in all reality, the aesthetic should stay as an image of the past. That is, avoid placing the tree around fires, stoves, air ducts, or radiators. There is not only the fire risk, but the heat actually dries out the branches and needles more quickly, causing signs of aging sooner than it normally would.

5. Take the Christmas Tree Down While It Still Looks Somewhat Fresh

This may sound counter-intuitive if you’re one of those hoping to keep the Christmas feeling around longer. It’s easier and more time-efficient to avoid a trail of dried-out pine needles as you remove the Christmas tree. A dead tree can be used to start a hearty compost pile, be made into mulch, or be recycled. Finally, if you’re not sure where to put your tree at the end of the holiday season, you can contact your local waste disposal service and see what they recommend.

Your local Mr. Tree Services team would like to wish you and yours a warm and happy holiday season, filled with the joy of celebrating the time together. For any of your residential, commercial, or industrial tree needs, Mr. Tree is here for you. Please reach out to us and we’ll be happy to help you both this season and year-round.