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DIY Christmas Tree Preservatives From The Pantry

DIY Homemade Christmas Tree Preservatives

We’re off to the tree lot this afternoon. I had a spectacular tree last year but it dried out quickly (I did forget to put water in it once) so I went online to see what I could add to it as a preservative, other than the little bottle of premixed stuff for sale at the tree lot.

There are quite a few interesting suggestions for Christmas tree preservatives that I’ve never heard of. Whatever you do, definitely make a slit at the bottom of the tree (our lot does that for us) so that water can be more easily absorbed. You can also use these solutions with cut flowers.

Christmas Tree Preservative Recipes

The most common homemade preservatives use common household ingredients. You need a food source, a disinfectant (to prevent algae, etc), and an acidifier (helps plants absorb more water and food).

1 gallon water
4 tsp Clorox bleach
2 cups Light Corn Syrup
4 tsp lemon juice or vinegar (or some recipes use iron tablets) – This step is OPTIONAL

You can store for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. If you decide to add lemon juice or vinegar, add it to the water and not to the bleach directly because otherwise you risk toxic fumes. In light of that, you may want skip the lemon juice or vinegar all together, or try the following:

1 gallon water
1 can of 7UP (or equivalent) that isn’t diet
splash of bleach

OR (less common)

1 gallon water
4 tsp sugar dissolved in water
1 copper penny

Add a penny to the sugar so that the copper acts as a disinfectant. It’s not clear to me if you leave the penny in or out or the solution. I think you take it out.

Here are the more “interesting” versions:

1. Add vodka to the water. The myth is that the vodka will allow the water to spread through out the tree faster. Not sure about you, but when I add vodka to myself, I totally dehydrate. Not recommended.

2. Add aspirin to the water. This allows better flow of water into the trunk. People claim this works.

3. Run a whole-house humidifier. Talk about impractical.

However, all of your efforts will be wasted if you let the level of water get below the trunk of the tree. I’m guilty of that.

I suppose I should also remind you to use these methods at your own risk. I’m going with the first recipe sans lemon or vinegar.

  • Larry - December 10, 2014

    Handy article . The penny is to add copper to the water which acts as a mild algae and bacteria inhibitor . However these days Pennies are only about 2 percent copper. The rest is zinc. The idea is to leave the penny in the tree stand dish. Great articles you have about the Christmas markets in Germany, where the custom of the tree originated.

  • Becca - December 4, 2009

    My grandpa adds aspirin to his flower vases…so I would guess that is good :)
    .-= Becca´s last blog ..Dinner Parties =-.

  • 2 Toddlers and Me - December 4, 2009

    Interesting finds. Aren’t all pennies copper? Funny though that it helps a preserve a tree. I wonder who figured that out.

  • angi - December 4, 2009

    thanks so much for sharing this recipe

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I'm Katie Dillon, a freelance luxury travel writer who lives in seaside La Jolla, CA. This is where I document my recent trips around the world, the latest San Diego happenings and other fun lifestyle topics. Thanks for stopping by!

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