I had a spectacular Christmas tree last year that, unfortunately, dried out quickly. To prevent this from happening again, I went online to see if there are Christmas tree preservative recipes that I could make.

There are quite a few interesting suggestions for Christmas tree preservatives that you may not have heard of. Fortunately, most can be made with items that are already likely in your pantry.

You can also use these solutions with cut flowers.

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Christmas Tree Preservative Ingredients and Recipes

(Yes, I buy the little bottle of premixed Christmas tree preservative for sale at the tree lot, but it doesn’t seem to always work as well as it should.)

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

Christmas Tree Food Recipe #1

1 gallon of water
4 tsp Clorox bleach
2 cups Light Corn Syrup
4 tsp lemon juice or vinegar (optional)

You can store this mixture 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 to skip the lemon juice or vinegar altogether — some recipes use iron tablets instead.

Christmas Tree Food Recipe #2

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

Mix all ingredients together. Some people skip the bleach if they have pets who tend to drink water.

Christmas Tree Food Recipe #3

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

Mix the water and sugar. Add a penny to the Christmas tree bowl and pour the mixture on top. Save any extra for later. The copper from the penny acts as a disinfectant.

The More “Interesting” Christmas Tree Preservative Recipes

1. Add vodka to the water. The myth is that the vodka will allow the water to spread throughout the tree faster. Not sure about you, but when I add vodka to myself, I totally dehydrate. BUT, I was at the lot again yesterday and overheard a staff member mention this. Use at your own risk.

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

3. Run a whole-house humidifier. This seems impractical but some people swear by it.

However, all of your efforts will be wasted if the level of water falls 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.

Other Tips for Maintaining a Fresh Christmas Tree

When Christmas trees are cut, they are able to seal their pores by oozing sap. This prevents water and food from being absorbed. You’ll want to cut at least two inches off the bottom before taking it home and putting water in its bowl.

You can also cut a small slit at the bottom of the tree so that water can be more easily absorbed. The lot where we buy our Christmas trees does this for us automatically every year.

Also, if you have pets and small children, make sure that whatever food you feed your tree is nontoxic. I would stick to 7-Up and water.

What are your best recipes for Christmas tree preservatives?

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Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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

    1. I know it’s a little late for a reply but pennies minted after 96 became mostly zinc with copper plating. Shouldn’t be too hard to find a penny somewhere minted before that anyhow.

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

  3. 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.

  4. This year (2015-16) I used your “less common recipe”, in an old quart carton, and I kept the penny in the solution, refilling and re-measuring sugar as needed. Our tree has been robust! Thanks!

  5. I’m sorry, but you can’t ever forget to water the tree to the point where the tree butt is exposed to air for more than 30 minutes. No amount of preservative is going to help “fix” this mistake. As soon as the butt is exposed to air, the tree releases a sap that effectively seals the butt, thus preventing it from drinking water. If you want a long lasting tree, make a fresh cut and place in water within thirty minutes, and NEVER forget to water the tree!

  6. Tried your recipe of water with corn syrup and only used half amount of Bleach with the vinegar as well. We cut our norweigen spruce down first week in December and applied this recipe a week or so later. Within a week we lost needles dramatically. By Xmas there were bare branches and we ended up taking down tree on Xmas and by the time everything was off, tree appeared dead for what looked like a year. Highly NOT recommend your recipe. I have pictures for proof