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How do you fix a dried out Christmas tree?

Having trouble keeping your Christmas tree alive? Here’s a step by step guide on how to save a dying Christmas tree and fix a dried out Christmas tree.

There is something really magical about a live tree for Christmas. They smell great and add an extra special feeling to your holiday decor.

But, live trees do require a certain amount of maintenance – they can drink up to a quart of water from their stand daily!

The last thing you want is for your beautiful (and expensive) Christmas tree to dry up and die before Christmas!

To keep your tree fresh, you have to keep it watered. If your tree is getting dry, you almost definitely have a watering problem.

why is my christmas tree drying up

Why is my Christmas tree drying up?

The most likely reason that your Christmas tree is drying up is that it ran out of water and the trunk sealed up with sap. At that point, even if you refill the water, the tree won’t be able to drink. It will then dry up, turn brown, and drop needles.

Can a dry tree recover?

Can you revive a drying Christmas tree? This really depends on how dry the tree is. If it is just starting to dry out, maybe. If the tree has been dried up for a longer period of time, it’s going to be hard to revive it.

You definitely cannot get Christmas tree brown needles or crispy leaves to return to being green and soft. That is a one way street. There are some things, however, that you can do to try to perk up your tree.

2021 christmas tree

How do you fix a dried out Christmas tree?

The best way to revive a Christmas tree is:

  • Water
  • Re-cut the trunk
  • Trim branches
  • Move away from light and heat
  • Increase humidity
  • Use LED lights


The #1 most important thing is to keep your tree watered – ideally, keep the water level 2-3 inches above the bottom of the trunk. Don’t let it dry out!

Re-cut the trunk

If your tree sits dry for a while, you are going to have to re-cut the trunk. Once it seals up with sap, it won’t drink. If it dried out, you watered it, and it’s not drinking – you need to cut the trunk.

Yes, this is a nightmare to do on an already decorated tree, but a dead Christmas tree is a huge fire hazard. This is your only hope for saving a drying out Christmas tree.

Trim branches

If you plan has a lot of extra branches, especially at the bottom, trim them. If there are dead branches, cut them. This will save energy of the plant to conserve the important branches.

2022 christmas tree

Move away from light and heat

A heat vent or sunny window can dry out your tree! Move it to a dark corner if it’s getting too much sun or heat.

Increase humidity

If your tree is being watered, but still getting crispy, consider running a humidifier. This will add moisture into the air and help prevent it drying out.

Use LED lights

LED lights don’t heat up like old fashioned lights do. That heat can burn the branches! LED lights are better for live trees.

Why is my Christmas tree not drinking?

If your tree is not drinking, it is probably dead.

How do I get my Christmas tree to start drinking again?

Here are some simple steps to take to get your Christmas tree to absorb water again.

Keep it wet

The most important way to keep your tree alive and drinking is by keeping it wet and in water at all times.

Cut the trunk

If you forgot to water the Christmas tree, it might have sealed up with sap. First, water it and fill the water all of the way. Check back at the end of the day – did it drink water?

If not, you need to cut the trunk. You’ll have to remove it from the stand and cut 1-2 inches off the bottom of the trunk. This is not great to do to a decorated tree, so try not to forget to water it.

how to hang christmas tree lights vertically

Does adding sugar to Christmas tree water help?

There is a lot of disagreement over whether trees need to be fed or not. Some people swear by adding a tablespoon of sugar in the basin of water to “feed” the tree.

No sugar? You can also use:

  • corn syrup
  • coca cola (my great aunt swore by this!)
  • 1 asprin

Will drilling holes in Christmas tree help it drink water?

Drilling holes into the trunk of a Christmas tree will NOT help it drink more water. Neither will removing or peeling off the bark.

Christmas trees actually absorb water through a layer of their bark, so removing it can make the tree dry out even worse.

Any more questions about how to fix a dried out Christmas tree?!

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