Sugar Water for Christmas Trees: Giving It a Try

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.

In fact, Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences recommends not adding anything to your tree's water supply, including sugar or sugar products such as honey or corn syrup. 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.

Some people use 7-Up instead of white sugar to help preserve their tree but there is no evidence supporting this works.

Try the Sugar Theory Yourself

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


  • 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)


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

Simple Recipe

It is believed that the sugar acts as food for the tree and the vinegar adds acid to the water. Adding a bit of acid to the water may help the tree soak the water up more efficiently.


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


Mix all ingredients together and add to the water reservoir.

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: Giving It a Try