Garden Myths

Garden Myth: Christmas Tree Water Additives

Photo: Mike Raia

So, you’ll be bringing a cut Christmas tree indoors for the holiday season. What additive should you put in the water to make it last longer? 

I’ve seen such recommendations as a copper penny, aspirin, Seven-Up, sugar, honey, bleach, birth control pills, distilled water and fertilizer. Plus, you’ll find Christmas tree preservatives, apparently designed just for that purpose, in any hardware store. Which is best? 

You’ll find that any serious, non-partisan study always comes to the conclusion that plain tap water is just fine: you really don’t need to add anything. 

Do recut the base before you bring the tree indoors (this will open the pores to allow better water absorption) and do keep the base of the trunk constantly in water, but other than that, just relax and enjoy your tree!

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

5 comments on “Garden Myth: Christmas Tree Water Additives

  1. Thanks for this–my thoughts exactly! You mentioned copper pennies–I have used them in water with tulips and I think that helps them stay upright longer. Or is that a myth too? Your advice please.

    • The “pennies for tulips” tip has been tested and offers no advantages either. Sorry!

      • Terri Taggart

        I was advised to use ice cubes in the water with cut tulips to mimic cold conditions. I do add ice cubes and to my mind they do work, but you need to do add ice cubes each day.

      • Actually, you only need to avoid hot water. Room temperature is fine.

  2. Thank you for saying so, but I know no one would believe me if I were to repeat this anyway.

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