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If you add tree or floral preservative when you water your Christmas tree it really will extend its life. It's easy and inexpensive to make your own solution, rather than buy a commercial product. There are several 'recipes', all using common household ingredients. In addition to water, they include three basic components: a food source for the plant, an acidifier to reduce the pH of the water (helps the tree absorb water and food), and a disinfectant to prevent the growth of algae, fungus, and bacteria.

Now... some recipes call for mixing bleach and vinegar, which I really don't recommend. However, at the low levels of bleach used in tree preservative, you should be ok, as long as you make the solution in a well-ventilated room and add only a small quantity of bleach to the solution (don't mix it directly with vinegar or lemon juice). Adding a penny to the solution, instead of bleach, is one alternative some people use.

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November 20, 2011 at 12:21 pm
(1) treefarmer says:

I respectfully disagree with the benefits of using anything other than plain water for your Christmas tree. The tree is already dead. The entire point of whatever you add to your Christmas tree stand is to maintain hydration. The tree will not grow so there is no need to add sugar as an energy source. The tree will maintain its hydration best when water flows freely from the stand and transpires through the needles. Making a solution with anything other than water changes the osmolarity and would impede the necessary capillary action for maximal water movement through your tree. There’s a reason the Christmas tree growers associations recommend plain water. Save your sugar for some Christmas cookies

December 3, 2011 at 7:05 pm
(2) Jones B says:

I tried the sugar & bleach solution last year – total disaster.
Tree dried out in 1 week. Needles started dropping after 2 weeks. Looked like Charlie Brown’s tree by Christmas. Removed it from the house Dec 26. Used snow shovel to remove needles. Never again! Penn State Dept of Agriculture has research showing that plain water is best. Demand to see test data before believing claims about any concoction.

December 5, 2011 at 3:30 pm
(3) Tab B says:

The preservative works great if you use it correctly. Start with a fresh cut. Let the tree stand overnight in the solution then discard and replace with water only. Top off with just water from then on out.

December 7, 2011 at 11:25 am
(4) Greg says:

Mixed it perfectly, and killed our tree in one week. Then we read on Mythbusters where they did a controlled study. None of these really work, in the end, regular water seems to be best. Now we have to take our tree down, go cut another one and start over. :(

November 26, 2012 at 11:14 am
(5) Loki's Garden says:

Instead of focusing on what to put in the water, pay attention to where you put your tree. The cooler your tree is, the longer it will take to dry out. Avoid setting trees near fireplaces or heat registers; in front of old drafty doors or windows is actually good for it.

November 26, 2012 at 3:02 pm
(6) christina says:

why would anyone be stupid enough to add bleach to a plant? are you kidding me with this?

December 1, 2012 at 6:17 pm
(7) Jessica says:

Bleach is chlorine, which is the same as what’s added to the water that comes out of your faucet. If kept at low levels (which is what the author recommended), it keeps the water from growing algae.

December 18, 2012 at 10:13 pm
(8) DSH says:

If your tree water is warm enough to grow algae then your tree doesn’t stand a chance from the beginning.

December 3, 2013 at 4:44 pm
(9) Wilson says:

Thank you folks for the good laugh specially Mr. Charlie Brown comment. I agree, adding bleach is not a good idea. The common sense thing to do is to add just water, preferably pure water. Keep it simple.

December 7, 2013 at 2:24 pm
(10) Anita says:

I respectfully disagree. We add warm water and some sprite every year and our tree usually does grow. We are picking up the brown shells when the tree sheds them to show the new growth of needles

December 9, 2013 at 6:59 pm
(11) Jim says:

Bleach won’t help with algae… unless you leave in the deep south and keep the cut tree outside in the sun. Alage is a plant… A bleach solution is commonly used to kill bacteria and wet stage fungus such as yeast.

December 19, 2013 at 8:14 pm
(12) Dan says:

I use white vinager and it works good. My trees last an entire month. Thee to one ratio. One part vinager three parts water. Keeps the tree from saping up and starving the tree.

December 21, 2013 at 7:44 am
(13) Sam says:

I have used the corn syrup & bleach recipe,
Several years in a row our tree was up so long that it went through the budding stage.

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