If you’re lucky enough to have a loving auntie or neighbor in your life that loves to share tricks and tips with you, you’ve probably heard a “hack” or two about keeping real Christmas trees alive and fresh from Thanksgiving weekend through New Years Day. But is that even possible? And do any of those tricks really help fresh Christmas tree last longer? I have heard from multiple people over the years that to really make our Douglas Fir happy and healthy, we absolutely must use hot water (or very cold water), and put one (or more) of the following in the tree water:
- Sprite or 7 UP
- A ground up aspirin
- A penny
- Miracle Gro
Every year, we wrangle the tree into the stand and, a few weeks later as the tree begins to crunch-ify, I feel a slight pang of guilt that I forgot to add one or all of these things I’ve been told to add. But, as nice as it would be if there was some magical tree water additive that could extend the life of a real tree, is there really any truth to the rumors?
How to pick a Christmas tree that will last
Rather than adding anything to the tree water, the best thing you can do to ensure that your fresh Christmas tree will last all season long is to pick a truly fresh one to begin with, says Bianca Sparta, owner of Colibri, a flower and plant shop that sells fresh Christmas trees around the holidays. When you buy the tree, Sparta suggests asking when the tree was cut, and — if possible — ask for the freshest tree they have. Now that you’ve got the very freshest tree on the lot (or, ideally, you’ve cut one down yourself), Sparta says you should:
- Store the tree outside in water until you're ready to bring it inside and decorate.
- When you’re ready to bring it inside, give your tree a fresh cut with a saw, “just like you would a fresh flower,” she explains.
- Then, keep that tree stand completely filled with water every day. “Check it every day,” Sparta urges. “A whole huge tree is going to drink a lot of water.”
Freshness is everything when it comes to putting up a real Christmas tree in your home. “If you don't have a fresh tree, that's a problem, and nothing’s going to fix that,” Sparta says.
How to keep a real Christmas tree alive & fresh all December long
What about all of the additive rumors — a penny, Sprite, or aspirin? And does the temperature of the water that you pour into the tree stand matter at all? No, Sparta says, and in fact she discourages adding anything to your Christmas tree water. “Adding things to the water kind of mucks it up,” she explains. “You're just going to encourage bacteria to grow, which will then stop the tree from hydrating and or attract ants or other kind of things that you don't want to your tree.” Stick with fresh, clean water and change it daily, and you should expect your real Christmas tree to live “until Valentine’s Day,” Sparta says with confidence. “If you're buying a fresh tree, and you're taking care of it, making sure it's hydrated all the time, you should expect it to last at least a good four to six weeks.”