Sugar Water for Christmas Trees: Will It Keep Your Tree Fresh?

Watering Christmas tree with sugar water

If cutting down or purchasing a fresh Christmas tree is part of your family's holiday traditions, you'll want the tree to stay green and healthy for as long as possible. One way some people do this is by adding sugar to the tree's water reservoir; however, that may not work.

Sugar Water Effectiveness

Advocates of using sugar water for Christmas trees say that the mixture acts as artificial sap or food for the tree, thereby helping the tree to live longer. However, supporting evidence is lacking and mostly anecdotal.

Experts now recommend not adding anything to your tree's water supply, whether that be sugar or sugar products such as honey, corn syrup, or 7-Up. In addition, associate professor Les Werner, the author of a University of Wisconsin Steven's-Point Christmas tree care study featured in the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, indicates that adding sugar to tree water does not help. For those wanting to preserve their tree's freshness for as long as possible, fresh tap water is their best bet.

Try the Sugar Theory Yourself

Although there is no direct evidence that adding sugar water to your tree prolongs its life, there is no indication that it causes harm. So if you decide to give it a try, there are some guidelines to keep in mind.

How to Add Sugar to Your Reservoir

People who use sugar water for their trees often use a mixture rate of one cup of sugar for every gallon of water added to the reservoir. Be sure to add the sugar water into the container from which you are watering your tree and stir until the sugar is dissolved before adding it to the water reservoir in your Christmas tree stand. If you don't do this and simply add the sugar directly to the reservoir, the sugar will sink to the bottom.

Chlorophyll Substitute Recipe

The following sugar water recipe includes ingredients that are said to act as chlorophyll substitutes for your Christmas tree.

Ingredients

  • 2 gallons hot water
  • 2 cups corn syrup
  • 2 ounces chlorine bleach
  • 1/2 teaspoon Epsom salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Borax
  • 1 teaspoon of iron (the kind you can find at any garden center)

Directions

  1. Mix the hot water, corn syrup, chlorine bleach, and Epsom salts until thoroughly combined.
  2. Add the Borax and iron and stir until dissolved.

Simple Evergreen Preservation Recipe

It is believed that the sugar in the mixture acts as food for the tree, and the vinegar in the recipe adds acidity to the water. Many believe that adding acid to the water may help the tree soak the water up more efficiently.

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon hot water
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons vinegar

Directions

Mix all ingredients and add to the water reservoir.

Keeping Your Tree Fresh Sans Sugar Water

There are other means of preserving a fresh Christmas tree for those who dispel the sugar water myth.

  • Fresh tree - Choose a fresh tree to begin with. Do a shake test and see if the needles stay in place or easily fall to the ground.
  • Fresh cut - If you have chopped your tree down within the last 8 hours, you're good. If you haven't, give the tree a slice at the bottom to help it absorb water better through its base.
  • Fresh water - Water your tree daily, never letting the water line fall below the trunk base. Use fresh water.

Success Varies

For many people, using sugar water is a tried and true way to keep their Christmas tree healthy, but experts say it doesn't work. Success or failure in making your tree last longer may be due to other factors such as room temperature, how long ago the tree was cut down, how the tree was stored, and how much water the tree receives.

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Sugar Water for Christmas Trees: Will It Keep Your Tree Fresh?