Why oh Why? Christmas tree edition

Hope everyone has had a chance to digest their Thanksgiving meal and is spending a productive day at work shopping on-line.  My daughter and I enjoyed one of our Holiday traditions this weekend and brought home a Christmas tree from a local choose-and-cut farm.  This was followed by another tradition at our house known as the “Annual cursing of the Christmas lights.”  Seems like no matter how careful I am when I put away the lights when we take down the tree, they are always a mangled mess the next year.

Christmastime is also time for another ‘Why oh why?’  As in, why do people make such a big deal out of watering their tree?  Working in Extension with Christmas trees, I’m glad that we’ve gotten the word out and people are concerned with keeping their tree watered.  But is it really that hard to put water in the stand?  I use a watering can with a long stem and it seems to work fine.  Let’s look at some of the devices people have come up with water Christmas trees.  I’ve rated each on scale of 0 to 4 watering cans.


The tree IV.  I’ve mentioned this one on the blog before.  The theory here is that the tree will suck up water from a reservoir you attach to the trunk.  Trunk injection is possible with conifers but requires pressure and resin quickly fills the hole. 0 cans.

The watering cane.  OK, maybe you’ve got back problems and bending over with a regular watering can could be an issue. 4 cans.



Water funnel system.  I’m not sure the video convinced me this is faster and easier than the watering can. 2 cans.

Water reservoir cleverly disguised as a package.  Assuming the issue is you don’t like to bend over and put water in the stand, I don’t see where bending over to put water in a fake package is a big improvement.  And what happens if you forget which package is which? 2 cans.

Funnel cleverly disguised as an ornament.  Gets around the bending over issue, but can you really hide the tubing? 3 cans.



Christmas Vacation anti-transpirant.  According to the advertisement you can put this stuff in the first time you water the tree and then you are good to go for the next month.  The same product is sold as ‘Stasis’ and is used to protect bedding plants from wilting during shipping.  The theory is that the product induces stomatal closure by increasing abscisic acid levels.  I’m withholding judgment on this one until I see some data one way or the other, but to say I’m dubious is an understatement.


Keeping a Christmas tree hydrated is like most things; you can’t go wrong with the tried and true.  A fresh tree that is kept well-watered will retain needles for weeks and is very unlikely to be involved in a tree fire.   A tree this is allowed to dry, on other hand, is another story.  So before depending on a gimmick to keep your tree watered ask yourself if you’re willing to bet your house on it.


7 thoughts on “Why oh Why? Christmas tree edition”

  1. Will you do another blog on “de-watering” the stand? Always a challenge to get all that crud out of the stand before the tree is moved otside for “recycling”. My favorite tool is a Turkey baster and a pitcher to suck up the muck before I hug all those dried needles after the BCS bowl is done.

  2. Actually, I consider my ‘tree fountain’ one of the best purchases I ever made! Every year I rejoice when I set it up and get the siphon flowing. Maybe I leave too many low branches on my tree, but yes, it’s a real pain to try to reach under there with a watering can. But more importantly, I can just glance at the level of water in the bottle to see if the tree needs more. I love it!


    (Let’s see if that forces a new paragraph.) Now, what I’d really like to know is if you add anything to the water? That powdered stuff they sell for flower bouquets, sugar, aspirin, bleach? Our water seems to algae quickly (I don’t know what that says about our water quality!), so I usually add a little bleach (like a teaspoon) to every 2-liter bottle to keep the slime at bay.

  3. In terms of water additives – my standard reply keeping water in the stand is the most critical thing. I’m not aware of any studies on additives and Christmas tree keepability. Floral additives can improve vase life of cut flowers by a few days – not sure if that’s enough to make a difference for a tree that may be around for 4+ weeks.

  4. Karen, I am curious about your experience with putting a small amount of bleach in the stand water. I get this question quite a bit as some people have issues with foul odors coming from their tree stand. Have you seen any evidence of a negative reaction from your trees?

  5. I’ve been adding bleach to my tree water for 10-20 years now and have never had a negative reaction from the trees. We keep our trees up for at least 3 weeks, sometimes longer, and they generally keep sucking up water the whole time, though they do slow down after the first week. Last year we were loathe to take the tree down because it was still so green and vibrant! I do still get some slimy build up, so I could possibly be adding a little more, but I’d rather err on the cautious side. I’d love to have an exact amount based on research! I often add the floral preservative as well, on spec, though I’m not sure if it really makes any difference.

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