'Why is my Christmas tree drying out?' We asked experts to help you stop the drop

Is your tree looking brown and you're wondering 'why is my Christmas tree drying out?' Worry not! Our experts are here to help

A Christmas tree in a living room surrounded by presents
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you're scratching your head and wondering: 'Why is my Christmas tree drying out?' don't fret. It's possible to remedy the issues making it go brown, and prevent your tree from dropping the rest of its needles. 

We’ve spoken to a professional Christmas decorator and two interior design specialists to find out the most common causes of tree dehydration, and how you can keep yours healthy.

If you want to know how to keep your Christmas tree alive for longer, we’re here to help with these expert-approved hacks.

How to stop your Christmas tree from drying out

Once you've taken the time to choose a Christmas tree, knowing how to prevent your tree from drying out is vital. Otherwise, you'll be left with a sad tree only fit for the Grinch.

1. Insufficient watering

An image of a Christmas tree in a small apartment

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In order to stay properly hydrated, your Christmas tree requires plenty of water. If you fail to keep your Christmas tree stand (like this Christmas tree stand from Amazon) topped up with enough water to cover at least the bottom two inches of your tree’s trunk at all times, you may find it starts drying out. 

Amelia Thompson, Interior Designer, says: “The most common reason is not providing enough water. Your tree can easily consume a gallon of water or more in the first few hours.” 

If you’re worried you may struggle to remember to keep your Christmas tree stand topped up with water each day, opt for a self-watering Christmas tree stand instead (like one of these self-watering tree stands from Amazon). Alternatively, using a Christmas tree-watering funnel (like this plant watering funnel from Amazon) works well, too. 

Amelia Thompson
Amelia Thompson

Amelia Thompson is a passionate interior designer and Christmas enthusiast with over 12 years of experience.

2. Exposure to too much heat

Be mindful of where you place your Christmas tree in your home. If there’s one thing that’s going to cause your Christmas tree to dry out fast, it's standing it next to a heat source. 

Thompson explains: “Being too close to heat sources accelerates drying." He recommends positioning your Christmas tree at least a few feet from a radiator. If you can't place it anywhere else in the room, switch off the radiator or reduce its temperature instead.

Sarah Ruffalo, Christmas Decorating Specialist, agrees and says: “Putting a tree near a radiator or heat vent can cause the tree to dry out.”

A good way to check if the heat from your radiator is going to be a problem or not is standing next to your Christmas tree while the radiator is on. If you can feel the heat from the radiator, it's too high or your tree is too close. Consider shutting off the radiator or moving your tree.

Sarah Ruffalo
Sarah Ruffalo

Sarah Ruffalo is a Christmas Decorator and teacher of all things Christmas.  Her expertise has graced the pages of prestigious publications, solidifying her status as a go-to authority in the world of holiday decor.

3. Lack of humidity

Christmas tree

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ever noticed when the radiators are cranked up or your log fire is on, the air in the room feels dry? That's because it really is dry, with the warmed air lacking the natural humidity it might otherwise have had. This can pose a problem for your Christmas tree. 

Thompson explains how: “Low humidity in the room can cause the tree to dry out faster.” So, if you’ve noticed the air in the room is feeling a little dry, it might be worth thinking about adding a humidifier (like this humidifier from Amazon) to help replace some of the lost air moisture from heating your home.

4. Your tree is too old

Another common cause of a Christmas tree that is intent on drying out is that it's an older tree. 

Thompson says: “If the tree was cut long ago and wasn't properly stored before you bought it, it will dry out more quickly.” 

To revitalize an older tree, cut two inches off the trunk and submerge the base in a mix of water and Christmas tree feed (like this Miracle Gro Christmas tree feed from Amazon). If you don't have equipment like this folding hand saw for tree cutting, or invoke the spirit of Christmas and chat to a green-fingered, and hopefully friendly neighbour who might be able to help.


What can I do if my Christmas tree has started to dry out?

When a Christmas tree starts to dry out, the resin at the trunk of the tree can begin to solidify, making it difficult for water to penetrate the trunk and hydrate the tree. The best course of action is to cut an extra two inches off off the trunk, before soaking the tree in a bucket of water. 

Once you’ve worked out the best ways to keep your Christmas tree from drying out,  keep on top of hydration at the tree trunk, and monitoring your tree daily for any signs of dryness. 

If, once you’ve decorated your Christmas tree, you begin to notice your tree’s needles are going a darker hue of green, are turning brown or becoming more brittle, this is a sign that your Christmas tree may be beginning to dry out and steps are needed now to salvage it.

Beth Mahoney
Freelance journalist

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a former staff writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.