You do have a real tree, don’t you??? If not, you can skip this section.

Okay, you have your tree selected (and you got the one before Charlie Brown did, we hope) and you cut off the bottom inch of the trunk and popped it in the correctly-sized stand and filled the base with water. (See further advice from the people who grow the trees below.) Your lovely personalized ornaments from are in place and the lights make everything sparkle. That’s it for tonight.

Next morning: you check the water in the stand and there’s some there… but the end of the tree trunk is high and dry. Oops. Now what?

Most likely you’ll have to start over and end up with a slightly shorter tree because the sap has congealed again in the base of the trunk so that water can’t make its way up to keep the needles fresh – and you know what that means… it’s time to haul out the shop-vac because the needles will start falling off and covering the floor.

Or, you could rely on technology (and a little basic science) to keep the tree watered properly without having to crawl under it with a heavy pitcher and risk adding too much water – there goes the carpet-cleaning bill – or too little (see the paragraph above).

The staff has done some research for you. We don’t recommend any of these products, nor have we actually tested them. They do, however, seem to make sense in their own way. You could help the process and let us know how you keep you r tree watered. We’ll post the most interesting responses in our blog.

To start off, here’s the basic tree care instruction list from the National Christmas Tree
Association [with a couple of editorial comments from us]:

1. Displaying trees in water is the most effective way of maintaining their freshness and minimizing needle loss problems.

2. In selecting a tree, make sure that the "handle" at the bottom is long enough to allow the trunk to fit into your tree stand. Otherwise, it will be necessary to remove large branches near the base, which could ruin its appearance. [That’s actually a pretty critical point. If possible have someone hold your prospective tree upright while you stand far enough back to judge the “handle”. Look at the possible bottom branches which you might have to remove to make the tree fit in your stand. Imagine your “perfect” tree without those branches. Think about another tree.]

3. Make a fresh cut to remove a 1/4" to 1" thick disk of wood from the base of the trunk before putting the tree in the stand. Make the cut perpendicular to the stem axis. Don't cut the trunk at an angle, or into a v-shape, which makes it far more difficult to hold the tree in the stand and also reduces the amount of water available to the tree. If you use a "center pin" stand, make sure the hole is drilled in the stem after it is trimmed. [Some tree lots will do this for you. If not, you need to do it yourself at home and remember to put something under the tree to catch the sawdust. Sometimes it’s easier to perform this operation if the tree still has its plastic netting around it.]

4. Once home, place the tree in water as soon as possible. Most species can go 6-8 hours after cutting the trunk and still take up water. Don't bruise the cut surface or get it dirty.

5. If needed, trees can be temporarily stored for several days in a cool location. Place the freshly cut trunk in a bucket that is kept full of water. The tree may need to be supported in some manner to keep if from tipping over.

6. To display the trees indoors, use a stand with an adequate water holding capacity for the tree. As a general rule, stands should provide 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter. Devices are available that help maintain a constant water level in the stand. [We’ll get to those in a minute.]

7. Use a stand that fits your tree. Some stands have circular rings at the top, so the ring must be large enough for the trunk to go through the hole. Other stands are open, which may allow a greater range in trunk size. Avoid whittling the sides of the trunk down to fit a stand. The outer layers of wood are the most efficient in taking up water and should not be removed. [Italics added for emphasis!]

8. Keep displayed trees away from sources of heat (fireplaces, heaters, heat vents, direct sunlight). Lowering the room temperature will slow the drying process, resulting in less water consumption each day. [It’ll save energy, too.]

9. The temperature of the water used to fill the stand is not important and does not affect water uptake.

10. Check the stand daily to make sure that the level of water does not go below the base of the tree. With many stands, there can still be water in the stand even though the base of the tree is no longer submerged in water. [We said that already – but this is where we got it.]

11. Drilling a hole in the base of the trunk does not improve water uptake. [There are those added Italics again.]

12. The use of "I-V" type devices to supply water directly to holes drilled in the sides of the tree trunk is not as effective as displaying the tree in a more traditional reservoir type of stand.

13. Applying film-forming anti-transpirants to the tree does not have a significant effect on the rate of moisture loss from the Christmas tree. These products supposedly block the evaporation of water from the surface of foliage, but in reality they have little effect.

14. Adding water-holding gels to the stand is not beneficial and they can reduce the amount of water in the stand that is available to the tree.

15. Do not use additives in the water, including floral preservatives, commercial tree preservatives, molasses, sugar, bleach, soft drinks [just drink the traditional 7-Up you used to add to the tree water because someone told you to once, we guess], aspirin, honey, and other concoctions. Clean water is all that is needed to maintain freshness.

16. Displaying trees in water with proper care is the most effective way of maintaining a tree's moisture. Some flame retardants can damage needles and actually increase the rate of moisture loss from trees.

17. Use of miniature lights will produce much less heat and reduce drying of the tree [see our tips on lighting elsewhere for more on this and the next 3 points].

18. Always inspect light sets prior to placing them on the tree. If worn, replace with a new set.

19. Do not overload electrical circuits.

20. Always turn off the lights when leaving the house or when going to bed.

21. Monitor the Christmas tree for freshness. After Christmas or if the tree is dry, remove it from the house.

22. Go to and type in your zip code to find a recycling program near you.

23. Never burn any part of a Christmas tree in a wood stove of fireplace.

Prepared by Dr. Gary Chastagner and Dr. Eric Hinesley Edited by the Scientific Research Committee of the National Christmas Tree Association

So, there are the basics.
Now on to the possible tree watering solutions:

Here’s a pretty low-tech idea that has a suggested retail price of $13.99. It’s the StaReal system.
That’s all you see of the system. It’s the plastic thing in the middle, right next to the snowperson. The StaReal watering unit provides both physical (using a long funnel) and visual (using an internal float system) access to the stand’s reservoir at all times. The precise level of water in the reservoir is continuously shown – at the top of the funnel (that’s the visible part in the photo), even while adding water. If someone wants to add water each time the level goes down a fraction of an inch, it is very simple. The water level indicator is literally in the funnel and you pour water on it. There is only one moving part, no batteries or electrical circuits, and is made in the USA of the finest materials. for more information.”

A slightly more involved watering system is from Molor Products Company (
It’s called the Tree Fountain (TF-3, $9.99 suggested retail) and it uses a standard 2-liter soda bottle as its water reservoir. Molor provides the base for the system, along with the hose that connects it to the tree stand. When the soda bottle is filled with water and inverted to fit in the base, the water inside travels to the tree stand and then the old principle of water seeking its own level takes over. The result is that there will be a constant 2” of water in the stand until the soda bottle runs out and needs to be refilled.

The Ever-Green Watering System ( ) takes the Molor product a step further.
They provide the water reservoir as well as the camouflage Christmas gift to hide it in. It works essentially the same way –the reservoir attaches via a thin plastic hose to the tree stand and the water level is maintained at a constant level as long as the base reservoir has a water supply. Prices range from $14.99 to $19.99 and the gift boxes come in a variety of wrappings.

There are others out there that range from a simple plastic trumpet-shaped funnel to devices that provide an electronic warning that the water level is becoming too low.

The main thing to remember is that your ChristmasOrnaments personalized ornaments look best against a healthy green Christmas tree.

Written by Dianne Weller
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