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 more than 60 gardening books, the laidback gardener, Larry Hodgson, lives and gardens in Quebec City, Canada. The Laidback Gardener blog offers more than 2,500 articles to passionate home gardeners, always with the goal of demystifying gardening and making it easier for even novice gardeners. If you have a gardening question, enter it in Search: the answer is probably already there!

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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