Christmas Tree Not Drinking? Try This

Christmas trees are, arguably, the best part of the season. But if your Christmas tree is not drinking, it can turn the holidays sour very quickly. A dying, brown tree is fun for nobody – and it’s a fire hazard, especially with lights strung all over the tree. Luckily this is an entirely fixable problem, usually in about five minutes.

The most common cause for a Christmas tree not drinking is sap buildup due to a fresh cut not being made before placing the tree.

Let’s talk about Christmas tree care, shall we?

Why Is My Christmas Tree Not Drinking?

The answer to this is actually very simple. When a Christmas tree is freshly cut, sap comes out as a protective measure. The sap functions the same way blood does for us – it wells up when cut and stems the flow of blood (or in this case, water). If your tree has been ignoring water since you put it in the stand, there’s one solution.

Before beginning the process of setting up your tree, make a new cut at the base. This will remove sap that’s already built up and allow a fresh “wound” for the tree to absorb water through.

That’s it – a fresh cut is really the only solution to this problem. If you’ve already set up your tree and know for a fact that a new cut wasn’t made, you’ll need to take everything down and make the cut now. Depending on how long it’s been since you set the tree up, it may be dead already – so let’s talk about how to prevent this in the future.

Christmas Tree Care 101

Now we’re going to talk about basic Christmas tree care so you can have healthy, happy trees in the future. Tree choice, where you put the tree, and how much you water the tree will all affect its long-term health and appearance.

Tree Choice

Let’s start with tree choice – as it’s actually rather important. Picking the cheapest tree will often result in a dead tree with needles everywhere in your home. The most popular and highest quality Christmas trees are:

  • Fraser Firs are the most traditionally popular Christmas trees. This is due to their strong branches (meaning no dead branches at the base of the tree), good needle retention, and wonderful smell.
  • Blue Firs are beautiful, but difficult to find depending on your location. As you may expect, blue firs are, well, blue(ish). Their color, in combination with their decent needle retention makes them rather popular.
  • Balsam firs have very soft needles that are generally a very deep green. They’re shaped ideally for decoration, have strong branches, and are generally considered the “classic” Christmas tree for that reason.

Farm to Home

Before you get the tree off the farm, look at what the sales associates do to the tree. They should trim clearly dead branches, make fresh cuts at the base, and net the tree for you. If they don’t, you’ll need to do that yourself. As a rule of thumb, make sure that:

  • Obviously dead branches and needles are removed before you leave
  • A cut has been made at the base. You’ll need to do this again before you actually set it up, but the cuts will help in the long run.
  • Make sure the tree has been shaken while getting netted. This will ensure all unwelcome bug and critter guests are free from the tree.

Next, you’ll want to make sure you have a fresh tree stand. A tree removal bag is also good to get so that when the time comes to get rid of the tree, it’s as easy as possible.

Setup and Watering

Proper watering and setup are perhaps the most important part of getting a Christmas tree other than the actual purchasing and acquisition of the tree itself. Ensuring you are taking proper care of the tree will make it prettier, safer, and generally longer-lasting than neglect will. While this may seem like common sense, not everyone knows these things!

When setting up your tree:

  • Place the tree somewhere it’s not crowded or near electronics. This will lower the chance of fires.
  • First, place the tree removal bag down to limit the mess and protect your floors and carpets from moisture.
  • Next, make cuts at the bottom of the tree, removing any built up sap at the base.
  • Once this is done, screw the stand bolts into the base of the tree and put water into the base until the fresh cut is submerged entirely.

If you don’t provide enough water to cover the fresh cuts, you’ll see sap build up in roughly five hours – this will put you back to square one. Generally, trees need at least one gallon of water in the first day you have it. You’ll then need to provide 2-3 litres of water each subsequent day. You can add “tree food” that’s sold at most tree farms to improve its lifespan.

DIY Christmas Tree Preservative

If you’d like to keep your tree looking better for longer, you can make your own tree “food” at home. You’ll need:

  • 3.75 litres of water
  • 500 mL light corn syrup
  • 20 mL chlorine bleach
  • 20 mL lemon juice or vinegar

Combine all ingredients and mix the solution with your tree water as you refill it. Do not put this all in at once. Your tree food can be kept for up to five days at room temperature, or for two weeks if refrigerated.

Final Thoughts

If your Christmas tree is not drinking water, there’s an easy solution. Ensure that you make a fresh cut at the base of the tree before setting it up. It does not matter if a cut was made at the farm – do it again. Otherwise, sap will accrue, preventing water from entering the tree. This will make the tree die much, much faster and generally result in a bad time.

Ensuring you properly set up and water your tree will make its lifespan drastically longer, and allow you a beautiful, wonderfully smelling tree for your whole holiday season. And if you’re looking to improve the health of your tree, consider making your own tree “food” as shown above!

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About the Author Harry Thompson

Involved in home renovations throughout his life, Harry is an expert in everything to do with home and garden DIY. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking and tending to his garden.