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!

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

5 comments on “Garden Myth: Christmas Tree Water Additives

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

  2. 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.

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