The smell, look, and feel of a live tree provide a strong Christmas tradition that many of us cannot do without. But with that comes the concern of the tree drying out and becoming a fire hazard. There is an amazing number of water additives suggested for helping keep the tree fresh, but I’ve seen little research to back them up.
Hot water: The cut end of the tree can sometimes seal over with sap if the water level in the tree stand drops below the stub and it dries out. Hot water supposedly melts the sap and allows the tree to take in water.
Sugar water: This includes adding Karo syrup to the water, and is a popular suggestion, but I have read that the dissolved sugar could crystallize on the tree stub and seal it off, reducing water flow up the tree.
Soda: I’ve heard of adding a few tablespoons of Sprite or 7-Up to the water each fill up, and it’s supposed to keep things like cut flowers and Christmas trees fresh. I would worry about the sugar crystallization thing I mentioned earlier.
Aspirin: I’ve seen no proof that trees get headaches
Pennies: Adding a few to the bottom of the water reservoir is supposed to help, but I have no idea.
Salt: From seeing what salt does to trees along interstates, I’m skeptical of this one.
Root-Tone: This is a rooting compound used to start plant cuttings. It’s available at garden supply stores, and supposedly encourages the tree to absorb more water.
Chlorine: Putting a drop of chlorine in the water is supposed to keep any algae from forming a scum in the water. I’ve never had algae form in my water, so have my doubts about this one.
Okay, enough myth busting. To keep a tree healthy in your home, the secret is water. Make a fresh cut of the stub to open the wood pores before putting the tree in the stand, and water it daily without fail. Don’t ever let the water level drop below the stub or the pores could seal over with dry sap and shut down water flow. Locate the tree (water) in the coolest part of the room (water), away from heat ducts and radiators (water), and remember…water! Buy a tree stand that has a really generous water reservoir, and keep it full of…hello… water!