How often should I water a Christmas tree? What the experts advise to do over the festive period

Don’t let your Christmas tree go thirsty

Neutral living room filled with Christmas decorations
(Image credit: Future PLC / Brent Darby)

‘How often should I water a Christmas tree?’ is a question more and more people are asking themselves as Santa gears himself up for a big night on the (roof) tiles. And it’s a very important question, too.

While there are so many Christmas tree trends out there, there’s no point decorating it if you don’t know how to look after a real Christmas tree. They should be treated like all of the other plants you have in and around your house and should be given some TLC to survive the festive period. 

Watering your Christmas tree is a big part of that, which is why we decided to consult with the experts to understand how you should keep your tree healthy and hydrated up until the big day and well into the New Year. 

How often should I water a Christmas tree?

Cosy Christmas living room with cream corner sofa and light brown walls

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

The benefits of a real Christmas tree certainly outweigh the cons, but there’s no doubt that these trees require a lot of maintenance - especially in the watering department. In fact, a real Christmas tree could potentially absorb 1-2 litres of water every single day, which is why it’s important to keep the trunk submerged in water at all times. A stand with a water well will help you do that. 

Of course, this number will change on a tree-by-tree basis and is highly dependent on the size and the health of your tree. Nevertheless, experts recommend watering your potted Christmas tree every single day and ensuring your water stand is full of water at all times. 

‘You should aim to water it with 1-litre or so of water every two days, so spread this out effectively,' advises Steve Chilton, garden expert at LeisureBench. 'Some days you may need more than 500ml to fill it up, and some, you may need less. It really does depend on where your Christmas tree is placed, so just make sure to keep an eye on it and make sure it doesn't dry out.’

‘I recommend maintaining a water level that lies above the base of the trunk at all times and make sure that your tree stand/base can hold enough water to keep the tree healthy. The less the base can hold, the more you'll have to water it.’

Headshot of gardening expert Steve Chilton
Steve Chilton

Steve is a passionate and knowledgeable garden expert with several years of experience within the field and has developed strong expertise for all things nature and plants. Steve is a keen educator and loves to share this knowledge with others. He strives to simplify complex garden practices and encourage eco-friendly gardening.

Can I over water Christmas trees?

Pale grey living room, large decorated Christmas tree, grey sofa and armchair, festive cushions, wood burning stove, framed print

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Brittain)

Watering your Christmas tree with 1 litre of water every couple of days certainly seems a lot, so we can understand why you may question whether you can overwater a Christmas tree. But the answer to this question all depends on what type of Christmas tree you have. 

If you have a cut Christmas tree in a water stand, it’s impossible to overwater it. That’s because the cut tree will only ever absorb the water it needs - which is why it’s so important to keep the water well full at all times. And if there’s too much in the water well, the tree simply won’t absorb it until it needs to. 

However, it is possible to overwater a potted Christmas tree. Too much water in a container without proper drainage holes can very easily cause root rot, which could see your Christmas tree die before the big day. Because of this, you should ensure that your potted tree comes in a pot that has good drainage so any excess water won’t drown the roots.

Should I spray water on my Christmas tree?

Pale grey living room, large decorated Christmas tree, grey sofa and armchair, festive cushions, wood burning stove, framed print

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Brittain)

Christmas trees weren’t designed to live indoors, especially cut trees in a house with central heating and radiators in every room. Because of this, it’s very easy for real trees to dry out and start to die when they are placed inside a home. To combat this dry and hot climate, it’s always a good idea to spray water on your Christmas tree once a day.

You don’t have to arm yourself with a giant water gun and completely drench the tree, though. A small spray bottle should do the trick, and this should allow you to gently mist the needles and the branches of the Christmas tree. This will not only keep the tree hydrated but will also prevent the needles from becoming too brittle.

How do I know if my Christmas tree is too dry?

Blue living room with tree decorated with lights and baubles

(Image credit: Future PLC)

‘Regular watering is essential for Christmas trees, and often we find that one major problem is that they're not watered enough, either due to forgetting or the idea that they simply don't need to be watered,’ says Steve.

‘If you don't water them enough, then you'll find that the tree won't last as long, which can be a problem, especially if you get your Christmas tree earlier on in the season.’ But while it’s very easy to under-water a real Christmas tree, it’s important to understand the signs of a dry Christmas tree so you can act fast. 

Visible signs of a dry Christmas tree are: 

Brittle needles: If you were to run your hands over the branches and the needles of a well-watered tree, you should find that they bend and move with your movements. 'If the needles are falling off easily, it could be a sign that your tree needs more water,' explains Mark Rofe at 'The best thing you can do in this situation is to water the tree and place it in a cool place, away from direct heat like radiators or underfloor heating.’

Brown needles: Just like many other plants, a Christmas tree will turn brown when it’s dried out. And if you spot that the needles on your Christmas tree are starting to lose their green colour, it’s a sure sign that you need to give it a drink. 

Drooping: The fullness of a healthy tree makes it perfect for hanging decorations on, but if you start to notice that the branches and decorations are getting closer and closer to the floor, you might want to give your Christmas tree some TLC. As soon as it starts to droop or wilt, you need to give it some water. 

So, it’s important to maintain a regular watering schedule to ensure a healthy and happy tree over the Christmas period. 

Lauren Bradbury

Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.