Cleaning Guides

How Long Do Real Christmas Trees Last

Mariusz S. Jurgielewicz /

While artificial Christmas trees offer convenience and a mess-free alternative, there’s a special joy in seeking out a real Fir during the holiday season and decorating it with your loved ones. Also, there’s the scent that everybody loves, no matter what country you’re from.

Here in Australia, where Christmas coincides with summer, the tradition of adorning real Christmas trees continues to gain popularity. While the iconic image of snow-covered landscapes is swapped for sandy shores, we still enjoy putting up real Christmas trees. But with our climate, you might inevitably wonder about the real Christmas tree’s lifespan. After all, these plants need cold and not warmth.

The natural lifespan of different tree species

To the question “How long do real Christmas trees last”, the answer is: different Christmas tree species have varying lifespans. So, let’s compare the three most common real ones:

  • Fraser Fir lifespan – Known for its excellent needle retention, the Fraser Fir typically lasts up to 5 weeks with proper care;
  • Douglas Fir lifespan – A popular choice, Douglas Firs maintain freshness for about 4 to 5 weeks under optimal conditions;
  • Noble Fir lifespan – With good needle retention, Noble Firs can last between 3 to 6 weeks, depending on factors like temperature and care;

However, in Australia, the dynamics of Christmas tree lifespans can differ from those in regions experiencing winter during the holiday season. Fortunately, native species like the Norfolk Island Pine or the Wollemi Pine are well-suited to withstand the summer conditions. They may even have a longer lifespan in the Australian summer, as they are naturally acclimated to the local environment.

When to buy a Christmas tree

While real trees typically endure for up to 5 weeks, the climate in Australia makes things a tad more difficult. So, for optimal freshness and vibrancy, consider purchasing your Christmas tree no earlier than three weeks before the intended start of your festive celebrations and opt for a species known for superior needle retention. The already mentioned Norfolk Island Pine and the Wollemi Pine are renowned for maintaining needle integrity, so whichever you choose will stay vibrant for at least a 3-week period, provided you give it the proper conditions. Finding a good tree is just one of the things to do before Christmas.

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Factors influencing the freshness and longevity of real Christmas trees

When it comes to the longevity of your real Christmas tree, several factors come into play. From the moment it is cut or potted to the time it graces your home, each stage significantly contributes to the tree’s overall health.

  • Cutting time and transportation methods – It’s crucial that your tree of choice is cut as close to the time of purchase as possible. This helps minimise drying out, considering the warmer temperatures;
  • Storage methods – For cut trees, immediate trunk immersion in water is essential upon reaching home. Always keep the stand full of water. Potted trees, especially in Australia’s higher temperatures, require that you vigilantly monitor their soil moisture. It should never become dry;
  • Environmental factors – Your home’s climate matters. Keep the room cool and humidified, especially if you prefer a long-lasting real tree. Regularly misting the tree’s foliage can help combat the higher temperatures and ensure a more extended, vibrant appearance. Avoid placing it near heat sources like radiators, as they accelerate the drying process, leaving you with a prematurely wilted tree;
  • Water uptake – Ensuring your Christmas tree receives an ample water supply is crucial for robust needle retention. For instance, a well-hydrated tree exhibits a lush and vibrant appearance, with needles staying firmly attached to branches. By consistently providing water, you actively contribute to the tree’s longevity, preserving its visual appeal and minimising the hassle of needle cleanup during the festive season.
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How long do real Christmas trees last?

On average, with optimal care and environmental conditions, a well-maintained real tree can last anywhere from three to six weeks. However, it’s essential to monitor the tree’s freshness and consider removing it from your home if signs of dryness or excessive needle drop appear.

Care tips for prolonging your tree’s life

Now that you know the proper conditions for your Christmas tree, it’s time you learned how to take better care of it so it lasts longer.

  • Regular maintenance – Trim the trunk before placing the tree in water to enhance water absorption and longevity. Consider misting the branches and needles daily to prevent brittleness and early breakage. Check for dryness and needle retention regularly, taking necessary steps to maintain the tree’s health;
  • Watering your Christmas tree – Real Christmas trees, like any other plant, require sufficient hydration to combat the warm temperatures. Keep the tree’s water reservoir consistently filled to maintain hydration and freshness throughout the holiday season. Monitor the water level daily;
  • Optimal placement away from heat sources – The ideal location for your Christmas tree is the one that provides shade during the hottest parts of the day and can protect it from excessive heat and sun exposure. Avoiding prolonged exposure to direct sunlight helps preserve the tree’s freshness. Also, set up the tree away from sources of heat, such as radiators, fireplaces, and heating vents. Shield the tree from direct exposure to heat to prevent premature drying and needle drop.

Recognising when it’s time to bid farewell to your Christmas tree

As the holiday season winds down, it’s important to recognise the signs when your once-vibrant Christmas tree is reaching the end of its life.

  • Needle drop rate – While some needle drop is normal, excessive shedding of needles, even with proper watering, is a strong indicator that the tree is drying out and losing its vitality;
  • Browning and discolouration – the vibrant green colour of the needles begins to fade, and the overall appearance of the tree shifts to a duller hue. Browning, especially towards the interior of the tree, is a clear sign of aging;
  • Brittle branches – As the tree ages, the branches become more brittle and less flexible. If the branches snap easily or feel dry and breakable to the touch, it’s a sign that the tree is past its prime;
  • Loss of fragrance – the aromatic scent that once filled the room diminishes significantly. A notable loss of the characteristic Christmas tree fragrance indicates a decrease in the tree’s freshness;
  • Noticeable dryness – Run your fingers along the needles; if they feel excessively dry and easily fall off, the tree has likely lost its moisture content and is no longer capable of absorbing water effectively;
  • Wilting and drooping – The branches start to lose their upward or outward orientation and instead droop or wilt. This change in posture is a visual cue that the tree is no longer able to support its weight due to moisture loss;
  • Changes in appearance – Twigs and branches may become misshapen or take on an irregular appearance. This alteration in the tree’s structure is a clear sign of its aging and diminishing health;

Once you reach this point and there is a mess of needles on your carpeting, you might want to book one off cleaning. Afterwards, you need to dispose of the tree. Fortunately, there is an environmentally conscious way to do it. Many municipalities in Australia offer programs for recycling your Christmas tree, where trees are repurposed into valuable mulch for parks and various eco-friendly initiatives. Additionally, checking with local waste management about dedicated curbside pickup services is a common and convenient method of disposal.

Should you prefer a hands-on solution, consider shredding or chipping your tree at home to craft natural mulch for your garden. Always remember to remove decorations before disposal.

Enjoy your holidays without the hassle of cleaning

Call in the Fantastic team to clean your home before the holidays!

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How often should you replace your Christmas tree?

The frequency of replacing your Christmas tree depends on factors such as the type of tree, care practices, and your personal preference for a fresh appearance. On average, consider replacing your tree every three to four weeks to maintain its vibrancy and minimise fire hazards.


  • Purchase your tree no earlier than three weeks before the festivities for optimal freshness;
  • Maximising the lifespan of a real Christmas tree is possible with appropriate care, ensuring a vibrant and festive centrepiece for the holiday season;
  • Different Christmas tree species have varying lifespans. Fraser Fir, Douglas Fir, and Noble Fir range from 3 to 6 weeks. Native Australian trees may outlast traditional choices;
  • Watch for signs of needle-drop, browning, brittle branches, loss of fragrance, dryness, wilting, and changes in appearance;
  • Embrace environmentally conscious disposal methods, like recycling, or opt for live potted trees for a sustainable holiday tradition.

We’d love to hear about your Christmas tree traditions and experiences! Have you embraced the charm of a real tree, or do you opt for the convenience of an artificial one?

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