How to stop a Christmas tree from drooping – 5 ways to keep it looking luscious

Advice from the experts to ensure your tree maintains its posture and shine throughout the holiday season

Christmas tree decorated in modern kitchen
(Image credit: Getty Images/Maryna Terletska)

Ideally, we want our Christmas trees to stay looking luxuriously lush for the entire month of December. And a little into the new year too. 

Of course, if you’ve got an artificial tree you can sit smugly in silence here, but those with cut-trees will know that as the days tick by, there can be a noticeable difference in the height of the branches, the richness of the foliage and the overall quality of the tree.

It is possible to care for a Christmas tree in a way that stops it from drooping and losing its shine. Get off to a good start with your care routine and you'll have a great shot at making it to January.

Close up of Christmas tree in front of a dresser

Real trees have many benefits but they do require maintenance

(Image credit: Simon Bevan / Future)

6 tips on how to stop a Christmas tree from drooping

A sawn-off Christmas tree will begin to droop fractionally from the moment it is cut. But prolonging this deterioration is possible by giving the tree what it needs and keeping it in the optimum environment.

1. Start off with a healthy tree

Woman checking branches of a Christmas tree

Check that drooping hasn't already kicked in before you make a purchase

(Image credit: Tijana Tosic / Alamy Stock Photo)

If you haven’t already bought your tree, then be sure to check the health of it before you buy. If it’s already netted it's impossible to see if the branches have already begun to droop. 

'To prevent your tree from drooping before the festivities even begin, the choice of tree is a good place to start,' explains Fern Berg, founder at Tree Vitalize. 'Choose a Christmas tree from a reputable seller who has nurtured the tree right up until the point it was cut. Also, consider the type of tree you opt for. Long-lasting varieties include the Fraser Fir, Concolor Fir and Scotch Pine.

'An experienced seller will know the optimal time to cut each species to ensure as much sap as possible is retained in the tree, helping to keep it fresher longer,' says Fern.

Fern berg headshot
Fern Berg

Fern is the founder of Tree Vitalize and has planted and currently cares for over 100 different native and exotic fruit, nut, and ornamental trees. She also cultivates an extensive vegetable garden, several flower gardens and cares for an ever-growing happy family of indoor plants.

2. Hydrate your tree immediately

Blue living room with christmas tree and sofa

Before adding your ornaments, get your tree to soak up as much water as possible

(Image credit: Future)

That means soaking it in water as soon as you bring a Christmas tree home. Better still, saw an inch off the base of the trunk. The same way you’d cut the bottom of your flower stems before putting them in a vase. Doing this makes it easier for the tree to soak up water. 

You will be impatient to get your tree inside to decorate, but leave it standing in the water for as long as possible before bringing it inside.

3. Keep it away from heat sources

Real tree in a living room near a fireplace

Though an idyllic picture, don't position your tree too close to the fireplace

(Image credit: Joanna Henderson / Future)

The image of a Christmas tree in a cozy room with a crackling fire is an almost irresistible one. However, heat sources like fireplaces, underfloor heating, aircon units and radiators will dry out your tree quicker and cause drooping branches. A cool spot is a far better option to keep your Christmas tree alive and prevent droop.

'Always keep your freshly-cut Christmas tree away from heat sources. Even the best of us start to droop if the heat hits us directly all day long, so keep your tree away from air vents, fireplaces, and radiators,' says Christmas decor expert, Emily Piepenbrink.

Emily Piepenbrink headshot
Emily Piepenbrink

Emily creates for Christmas year round. After working for interior designers to decorate clients’ homes for Christmas, having holiday designs and photoshoots published in magazines, and even producing art for Christmas cards, she started Made Merry to share her passion for Christmas decor.

4. Use a stand with a water reservoir

Gift boxes standing near a plastic Christmas tree stand with water reservoir

Hide your water reservoir with a festive tree skirt 

(Image credit: Georgy Dzyura / Alamy Stock Photo)

These will allow you to water a Christmas tree with ease, keeping it well hydrated and its branches looking fresher and fuller. Don’t forget to top up the reservoir daily as the tree takes up plenty of water. 

The fresher the water the better, so try to dispose of water that has started to go cloudy, and replace it with new water.

Shop tree stands with water reservoirs

5. Position your ornaments carefully

Detail shot of ornaments on a Christmas tree

Lightweight ornaments won't create a pull on your branches

(Image credit: Future)

'I love a heavy Christmas ornament, but you've got to position it correctly to save your tree from saggy branches,' urges Emily Piepenbrink. 'Heavy ornaments need to be wired to the strongest branches, which usually means they get tucked into the tree a bit.'

She also suggests swapping out your usual metal hooks and using a small piece of floral wire to attach it to a thicker branch.

Christmas lights can also affect the health of your tree. 'They can be another source of heat that may contribute to the drying (and drooping) of your tree,' explains Fern Berg. 

'Use LED lights if possible as they do not emit much heat. You might also like to reduce the amount of time the lights are on, perhaps turning them off during the day and overnight, and just having your tree lit up during the late afternoon and evening hours,' she says.

6. Consider a living tree

Alive fir tree in pot prepared for Christmas

(Image credit: Tatyana Aleksieva-Sabeva / Alamy Stock Photo)

One of Fern's top tips to avoid drooping would be to consider a living Christmas tree. 'These will require some additional care, including acclimatizing the tree to be indoors (and to go back outdoors when Christmas is over), and having a plan to plant or donate the tree after Christmas,' she says. 

'You should also limit the amount of time a living Christmas tree is kept indoors to two weeks at a maximum. In addition to having a more lively Christmas tree, the benefit of a living Christmas tree over a cut one is that it will go on living long after the festivities are over,' adds Fern.

You can't dispose of a living tree after Christmas. If you don’t have the space to plant your tree after Christmas, Fern suggests renting a living tree instead.


What is the best non droop Christmas tree?

'This is a function of freshness and water uptake, not species. Fresh tree equals needle retention,' explains Lisa Tadewaldt, tree care expert.

'The most common types are regional but they are generally types of spruce, fir, and pine. Types of fir are the most popular overall, and in my opinion superior, with Grand fir and Douglas fir popular on the west coast and Balsam fir popular further east.'

Lisa Tadewaldt headshot
Lisa Tadewaldt

Lisa is co-founder of Urban Forest Pro, a tree care company based in Portland, Oregon, U.S. An ISA Certified Arborist.® Lisa has been in the tree care business for over 20 years and has established a great reputation as a tree care expert within the industry.

It only takes a little extra care and some diligence to prevent your Christmas tree from drooping over the holiday period. Hydration is key, and so is positioning. Get these right and you will be happy with the results. 

Teresa Conway
Deputy Gardens Editor

Teresa was part of a team that launched Easy Gardens magazine two years ago and edited it for some time. Teresa has been a Gardens Editor at Homes & Gardens, Country Homes & Interiors and Living Etc magazine since 2020 and has developed close working relationships with top garden designers, and has been exposed to an array of rich garden content and expertise.