Why is my Christmas Tree turning brown?

Last Updated: October 21, 2023

As the holiday season approaches, there’s nothing quite as heartwarming as a lush, green Christmas tree adorned with twinkling lights and colorful ornaments. But what if your Christmas tree starts to lose its vibrant hue and takes on a dull, brown tone?

Finding your Christmas tree turning brown can be a significant cause of concern, particularly during the festive season. This issue may stem from a variety of reasons, from care problems, environmental factors, to disease and pest attacks.

Identifying the exact cause behind your Christmas tree’s browning can be challenging. However, understanding the common causes can help you figure out what the issue is.

It’s worth noting before we get into it, that prevention is always better than cure. So, make sure to take care of your Christmas tree right from the start to avoid browning.

Types Of Christmas Trees That Are Prone To Turning Brown

Different types of Christmas trees have varying susceptibilities to turning brown. Several factors can contribute to this, including the type of tree, the care it receives, and the environment in which it is kept.

Below are some of the most common types of Christmas trees that are prone to browning if not properly cared for.

  • Norway Spruce: Known for its beautiful shape and strong scent, the Norway Spruce is a popular choice for Christmas trees. However, they are also known for dropping their needles quickly, especially if they are not kept well-watered, leading to a brown appearance.
  • Scotch Pine: While generally resilient and long-lasting, Scotch Pine trees can turn brown and lose needles if exposed to excessive heat or dryness. Besides, a lack of water can also lead to similar results.
  • Blue Spruce: These trees are loved for their unique color, but they can turn brown if not given the right care. Inadequate hydration and exposure to high temperatures can lead to a change in color.
  • Fraser Fir: Although Fraser Firs are known for their ability to retain their needles and stay green longer, they are still susceptible to going brown if they do not get enough water or are exposed to heat sources like a fireplace or heating vent.

What Causes Christmas Trees To Turn Brown

There are several reasons why a Christmas tree might turn brown. Understanding these causes can help you prevent your holiday centerpiece from losing its vibrant green color. Let’s delve into some common culprits:

Poor Watering Habits

One of the primary reasons Christmas trees turn brown is due to poor watering habits. A tree, just like any other plant, requires an adequate amount of water to maintain its health and vitality. When a tree doesn’t receive enough water, it can quickly become dehydrated and start to brown.

This is both the case for Christmas Trees that are potted in soil, and those that aren’t. A lot of newer Christmas tree stands have space around them for you to add water in. Although watering your tree won’t keep it alive forever if it’s been chopped down, it can help it stay vibrant for longer.

Heat and Dry Air

The indoor environment during the Christmas season can also contribute to a browning tree. Central heating systems can create a hot and dry atmosphere that is not conducive to the well-being of a Christmas tree. This can cause the tree’s needles to dry out and turn brown.

You also want to make sure your Christmas Tree isn’t near any radiators or in a room with underfloor heating as that can cause it to turn brown quite fast.

Exposure to Direct Sunlight

Exposure to direct sunlight for prolonged periods can also cause your Christmas tree to turn brown. The sun’s harsh rays can scorch the tree’s needles, causing them to turn a dull brown color. This usually isn’t an issue for those of us in the northern hemisphere as the sun is a lot weaker in winter, but if Christmas falls in your summer, the hot sun rays can dry out your tree.

Old Age

Finally, it’s important to remember that Christmas trees that have been chopped down will eventually die and turn brown.

Understanding these causes is the first step in maintaining the health and longevity of your Christmas tree. Proper care and a bit of attention can ensure your tree remains green and vibrant throughout the holiday season.

Other Environmental Factors That Affect Christmas Trees


The level of humidity in your home can also affect the health of your Christmas tree. Low humidity levels can cause your tree to dry out faster, leading to browning. Consider using a humidifier in the room where you keep your tree to maintain a healthy moisture level.

Pests and Disease

Pests and disease can also lead to browning in Christmas trees. Check your tree regularly for signs of infestation or disease, such as discolored needles or sap leakage. If you notice any of these symptoms, you may need to take action to treat your tree.

The Importance Of Proper Hydration For Christmas Trees

Ensuring that your Christmas tree receives proper hydration is crucial for maintaining its health and vibrancy throughout the festive season. Lack of adequate hydration can cause the needles to turn brown quite quickly, a common issue experienced by many Christmas tree owners.

Why Hydration Matters

When you first bring your Christmas tree home, it’s still very much alive and going through its natural life processes, even if it’s been chopped. It’s thirstier than you might think, and water plays a major role in maintaining its freshness. A well-hydrated tree not only looks lush and green, but also emits that wonderful, fresh pine scent we all associate with the holiday season.

Watering Your Christmas Tree: The Basics

Here are some basic guidelines to keep in mind when watering your Christmas tree:

  • Initial Watering: Give your tree plenty of water right after you set it up.
  • Regular Hydration: Check the water level daily and top it up depending on how quickly it dries out.
  • Water Temperature: Use room temperature water. Cold water can shock the tree and impede water absorption, while warm water can promote the growth of mold and bacteria.

Signs of Dehydration

It’s important to recognize the signs of a dehydrated Christmas tree. These can include:

  • Brown, dry, and brittle needles
  • Needles falling off the tree in large quantities
  • A lack of that fresh pine scent

Steps To Take To Prevent Your Christmas Tree From Turning Brown

Understanding why this happens and taking the appropriate steps can prevent this from getting worse. First and foremost, ensuring that your Christmas tree is well-hydrated is paramount, as a lack of sufficient water can cause the needles to dry out and turn brown.

Placement and Exposure

Next, consider where your tree is situated. Trees placed near heat sources, such as radiators or fireplaces, may dry out more quickly. Additionally, exposure to direct sunlight can also cause browning. To prevent this, keep your tree away from such spots.

Proper Tree Care

Proper tree care is another critical aspect that extends beyond just watering. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Regular Watering: Exactly how much will depend on other environmental factors so keep monitoring it throughout the holiday period.
  2. Use of Preservatives: Some people use tree preservatives in the water. However, experts suggest that clean water is all that’s required for keeping your tree fresh.
  3. Limiting Light Exposure: While Christmas tree lights add a festive touch, they can also generate heat which can contribute to drying out the tree. Limiting the hours your tree lights are on can help prevent this problem or switch to LED lights that don’t give off heat.

Choosing the Right Tree

Finally, the type of tree you choose can impact its longevity. Some species of Christmas trees are more resistant to drying out than others. For example, Fraser firs and Noble firs are known for their excellent needle retention, which can help prevent browning.

How To Revive A Brown Christmas Tree

It’s a disheartening sight to see your once vibrant and green Christmas tree turning brown. But, don’t lose hope just yet. There are still ways prevent the issue from getting worse and this can help to maintain your Christmas Tree until at least the end of the holidays.

1. Water It Regularly

One of the most common reasons why Christmas trees turn brown is due to lack of water. Christmas trees, especially those that are cut, require a lot of water to stay fresh and green. Make sure to check the water level of your tree stand every day and replenish it as needed.

  1. Keep It Away From Heat 

Heat sources such as vents, fireplaces, and direct sunlight can dry out your Christmas tree, causing it to turn brown. Position your tree away from such heat sources to help it retain moisture and stay green longer.

3. Use a Humidifier

Indoor heating can dry out the air in your home, which can have a negative impact on your Christmas tree. Consider using a humidifier near your tree to increase the moisture level in the air.

4. Spray It With a Tree Preservative

There are tree preservatives available in the market that can help your Christmas tree retain its moisture and stay green longer. These usually come in a spray form and should be applied according to the instructions on the label.

5. Remove Dead Branches

If despite your best efforts, some branches have turned brown and died, consider removing them. This can help prevent the spread of any potential disease and can also improve the overall appearance of your tree.

Proper Disposal Of A Brown Christmas Tree

There comes a time when every Christmas tree, no matter how well cared for, begins to lose its vitality and turn brown. At this stage, the tree is no longer safe to keep in your home as it becomes a potential fire hazard and the large number of needles that would drop from it can become dangerous if you have pets and children in the house.

Therefore, the proper disposal of a brown Christmas tree is a crucial step to ensure the safety of your home and the environment.

The first thing to remember is to never throw your Christmas tree in your regular trash bin, as this adds to landfill waste. Instead, there are various eco-friendly disposal options you can consider:

  1. Recycling Centers: Most cities have recycling centers that accept Christmas trees. They often chip and shred the trees to make mulch for public parks and gardens.
  2. Curbside Pickup: Many residential waste services offer curbside pickup for Christmas trees shortly after the holiday season. The trees collected are usually recycled into compost or mulch.
  3. Tree Drop-Off Locations: Some communities set up temporary tree drop-off locations at the end of the holiday season. These sites allow residents to conveniently dispose of their trees in an environmentally friendly manner.

Before you dispose of your tree, ensure to remove all decorations, lights, tinsel, and garland. It’s important that only the organic tree material is recycled or composted.


In conclusion, the health of your Christmas tree is dependent on a variety of factors, from the way you maintain it to the environmental conditions in your home. By paying close attention to these elements, it’s possible to prevent or rectify the issue of a Christmas tree turning brown.

  • Choose a fresh tree: Always start with a tree that’s fresh and green. Look for a tree that has a healthy green color and a lush, full appearance. Remember, a tree that’s already showing signs of browning before it’s even been cut is likely to deteriorate more rapidly once it’s in your home.
  • Water regularly: Your Christmas tree needs plenty of water to stay hydrated and maintain its green hue. Fill the tree stand with water as soon as you get the tree home, and check the water level daily to ensure it remains sufficient.
  • Keep away from heat sources: Heat can rapidly dry out your Christmas tree, causing it to turn brown. Keep your tree away from fireplaces, radiators, and direct sunlight to help it retain moisture.

Check for pests: Pests can cause damage to your Christmas tree and lead to browning. Regularly check your tree for signs of insects or disease, and take action if you notice anything unusual.

Fiddle and Thorn is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

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