How much sugar water for christmas trees

Skip the Sugar Water - Best Care for Christmas Trees | Davey Blog

Decorating the Christmas tree is a quintessential holiday moment. The soft glow from the twinkle lights dances around the room. The ornaments burst with memories as you pull them from their storage. And you look around, and soak up all the joy!

Now, all that’s left is to make sure your Christmas tree stays alive and full of wonder throughout the holiday season.

Below, tree care industry experts share their best care tips to keep your tree looking fresh.

Christmas Tree Care Tips – Sugar Water, Brown Needles and More

What do you put in Christmas tree water to keep it fresh? Sugar?

R.J. Laverne, Davey’s manager of education and training and an ISA Board Certified Master Arborist®, answers below.

“I’m not aware of any substantial benefits of adding anything to the water,” Laverne says. Instead, he says it’s far more important to make sure that the tree always has enough water.

“If you keep the basin of the Christmas tree stand filled on a regular basis, you won’t have to worry about placing any additives in the water,” Laverne instructs.

How long can a Christmas tree live without water?

Coe Roberts, a certified arborist and manager of digital strategy at the Arbor Day Foundation, fields this question.

“Trees bought in early December that don’t receive adequate water will likely be unacceptably dry by the time the 25th rolls around,” Roberts says.

That’s why his best piece of advice for Christmas tree care is, “Water. Water. Water.”

He recommends putting your tree in water as soon as you bring it home. From there, provide a quart of water for every inch of tree diameter. Be sure to check and replenish your Christmas tree’s water every day. “It’s normal for your tree to take in a large amount of water one day and just a little the next. The cycle can be random,” Roberts says.

How do you best preserve a Christmas tree? Does drilling a hole in its trunk help?

Tchukki Andersen, a board-certified master arborist and staff arborist at the Tree Care Industry Association, shares her tips.

“Your tree preservation efforts need to start at the Christmas tree lot or farm. Give the tree a shake before you buy. If lots of needles fall off, you’ll be doomed,” Andersen shares. Instead, pick a fresh, healthy tree.

To help preserve your tree on the drive home, wrap it in plastic or a net. Once your tree is home, “cut an inch of the trunk if you bought it precut and place it immediately in a bucket of water,” Andersen says.

If you cut your tree and brought it right home, there’s no need to cut again. Just pop in water. Andersen says this works better than drilling a hole in the trunk because it exposes more of the flat surface area and helps the intake of water.

How can I stop needles from falling from my live Christmas tree?

Brian Sayers, a certified arborist and Chair Elect at TREE Fund, answers this one.

First, Sayers advises picking a tree that holds its needles better, like a fir. More on choosing the perfect type of Christmas tree here.

Once you’ve got your tree, resist the urge to bring the tree inside sooner than necessary. And most importantly, Sayers recommends “making sure that it never goes dry.”

Or Sayers says you could always go a different direction. Try “a tree that is in its original root ball. When the holiday season is over, take it outside, keep the root ball from freezing and plant in the spring.” 

Check out our other blog posts about Christmas tree care.



  • Christmas Tree Care

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Making your real Christmas tree last through the holidays

Bert Cregg, Michigan State University, Department of Horticulture and Department of Forestry -

Originally written by Jill O'Donnell and Bert Cregg.

Fresh tree, fresh cut and fresh water are essential in keeping your real Christmas tree fresh and hydrated throughout the holiday season.

Photo 1. The pull test is a quick and easy way to assess the freshness of a real Christmas tree. Photo by Bert Cregg, MSU.

Nothing says the holidays like having a real Christmas tree in the house. However, surveys indicate that the potential mess of pine needles on the floor often deters would-be real tree buyers. Michigan State University Extension reminds consumers that the keys to keeping the needles on your tree while it is on display in your house can be summarized as: fresh tree, fresh cut, fresh water.

Fresh tree

Starting with a fresh tree is essential to good needle retention and tree keepability. The best way to ensure a fresh tree is to cut one yourself at one of the many choose and cut farms located throughout Michigan. Use the Michigan Christmas Tree Association website to find a farm near you.

If you are not able to get your tree up right away, be sure to keep the tree in a cool, protected spot such as a garage, with the cut end in a bucket of water. If you buy a tree from a tree lot or a garden center, you can check the tree for freshness by doing the pull test. Gently pull on a shoot with your thumb and fingers; if the tree is fresh, you should not have any needles come off in your hand (Photo 1).

Fresh cut

Cut 0.5 to 1 inch off the base of the tree right before you put it in the tree stand to help the tree resume water uptake (Photo 2). After trees are cut at the farm, the cut end will begin to dry out and resin can clog the water conducting tissues in the trunk. These factors will limit water uptake, so re-cutting the end aids in allowing the tree to take up water and keeping the tree hydrated.

Photo 2. Re-cut the base of the tree before putting it in the tree stand to help the tree resume water uptake. Photo by Bert Cregg, MSU.

Fresh water

A fresh tree can use up to 1 quart of water per day for each inch of diameter on the cut end. A typical 7-foot-tall tree may have a 3-inch trunk diameter, so will need up to 3 quarts of water per day. If your tree is taking up a lot of water, this is actually a good sign and indicates the tree is fresh and hydrated.

Be sure to replace the water that is used each day and don’t allow the stand to dry out. Do not add sugar, aspirin, bleach or floral preservatives to the water; plain tap water is all that is needed to keep your tree fresh.

More information on selecting and caring for your Christmas tree from MSU Extension
  • Tips for success with your first real Christmas tree
  • Choosing the right Christmas tree
  • Christmas trees for connoisseurs: Try an exotic species this year
  • Living Christmas trees: Another real tree option
  • Why is my Christmas tree beginning to grow?
Tip sheets:
  • Michigan Christmas Trees

This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit To contact an expert in your area, visit, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

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Can you imagine New Year without a Christmas tree? We are not. Almost everyone in the house has the main symbol of the New Year: someone has a very small artificial tree, someone just fir branches decorated with a pair of shiny balls, and someone has a big living tree under the ceiling. Of course, you want to keep a live Christmas tree for as long as possible. How to extend the life of a festive tree, read on.

1. The main thing is to choose the right one, buy it on time and properly store the Christmas tree before installation. The less time has passed since the tree was cut down, the better and longer it will stand. Although, of course, this can be quite difficult to do: as a rule, you have to buy a Christmas tree in advance, when there is more choice, and then just store it on a balcony or in another cool place.

2. When buying, it is important to pay attention to the color of the needles, the flexibility of the branches and the smell of the Christmas tree. A freshly cut tree has a rich green color, the branches do not break if they are bent, the needles do not crumble and smell when rubbed between the fingers. At the same time, in no case should there be mold and breaks on the table. The trunk of a healthy spruce is covered with green needles, as are the branches. But if he is very thin, this means that the tree is weak, it will lack nutrients, and it will not stand for a long time in any case.



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3. If you bought a Christmas tree in advance and stored it, for example, on a balcony, you should not immediately bring the tree into the room: due to a sharp temperature drop, the needles will fall off more and faster. It is necessary to gradually warm the Christmas tree to room temperature, holding it, for example, on the landing.

Before installation, it is better to cut down the lower branches, file the cut a little (2 - 3 cm is enough) and expose the trunk by 15 - 20 cm. This is necessary in order to remove the resin that clogs the pores, so the tree will absorb water better.

4. The Christmas tree should be placed away from radiators and heaters, otherwise the needles will quickly dry out and fall off. Periodically, tree branches should be sprayed with water from a spray bottle. And if you have a humidifier at home, then this will be a great option to keep the Christmas tree alive. Do not forget: when spraying a tree, the garland must be unplugged from the outlet to avoid fire.



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5. The Christmas tree can be installed on a special cross or in a bucket of water or sand. Moreover, if you put the Christmas tree on a stand, then the only thing you can do to help it is to wrap the lower part of the trunk with a damp cloth and moisten it periodically. But if you install a tree in a bucket, here you can already try folk methods to extend its life.

The most popular recipe: five aspirin tablets and five tablespoons of sugar are diluted in three liters of water. Sometimes salt is added to this set. Aspirin prevents the development of putrefactive bacteria, and salt and sugar provide nutrition to the tree. But in no case do not dissolve one sugar in water: it contributes to the decay of water.

You can dilute 0.5 teaspoon of citric acid and a spoonful of gelatin or a little crushed chalk in water.

Glycerin helps prolong the life of the Christmas tree: 1 teaspoon of glycerin is added to 1 liter of water.

You can put the tree in a bucket of river sand, while the trunk should be immersed 15 - 20 cm. There were cases when, with such care, the tree even took root. River sand contains impurities of iron oxide and hydroxide, which, when interacting with aspirin, form microfertilizers. Do not forget that the sand must always be wet.

You can also use special stimulants sold in stores. They must be accompanied by instructions in what proportions fertilizer should be diluted.

6. Do not forget that in addition to spruce, you can choose a tree of another species. The longest in a warm room and without much care is fir - 2 weeks or even longer. Pine will last a little less, and spruce - about 10 days.

Happy New Year!



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which spruce or pine tree to choose, what to add to the water?

A coniferous tree is the main decoration of the New Year holidays, their integral symbol. Today, many people prefer to purchase artificial Christmas trees or pine trees that will last more than one year. Yes, and you can dress them up long before the celebration - nothing will happen to synthetics. But what should lovers of everything living and natural do, including the unique coniferous aroma, so that the holiday passes without unpleasant surprises in the form of yellowed and crumbling needles? A live Christmas tree stands for a long time, if you follow some simple rules.

Before the start of the holiday

Here, as they say, you need to start from the very beginning. That is, from the choice of a freshly cut healthy tree.

How do you know if the tree will last a long time?

  • Fresh herringbone or pine needles are bright (not yellowed) and flexible, not brittle, oily to the touch, lush, looking up, not splayed in different directions. They can be bent for a long time, but they break off with great difficulty. Otherwise, there is a high risk of buying an already “worn out” Christmas tree, which is not long to live.
  • The needles on a fresh tree are strong. If you shake it and hit the base on the ground, the needles should not crumble.
  • Fresh and healthy living tree has a pronounced coniferous aroma. The opposite suggests that the Christmas tree, most likely, has already managed to freeze slightly. Accordingly, it crumbles pretty quickly.
  • To stand longer, the tree must not only be freshly cut, but also healthy. The disease may be indicated by a too thin trunk (less than 10 cm in circumference), the presence of fungus, mold, incomprehensible growths on it.

In order for the purchased tree to stand longer, it should not be immediately brought from the frost into a warm apartment after purchase: sudden temperature changes are detrimental to it. Therefore, we make them not sharp. We give the forest beauty to get used to the temperature of the entrance (holding her there for about an hour), then you can hold her for another 20 minutes in the hallway, where it is usually a little cooler than in the rest of the apartment. And only after such acclimatization can the Christmas tree be brought to where it will stand.

Living coniferous trees are recommended to be installed and dressed up directly on the eve of the holiday, maximum 2-3 days before it. Therefore, if you purchased a Christmas tree in advance (5-10 days), keep it on the balcony or loggia until this moment so that it is not warm.

And now - install

Here, too, there are some important nuances. So, we immediately dismiss the option of installing a Christmas tree on a cross or a special stand: it will not allow you to keep the trunk in a constantly wet state (and this is one of the essential conditions for the long life of a forest beauty). Accordingly, you will have to stop at the “bucket-sand-water” option.

There are often tips on the net to put the tree just in the water, without sand, but this is not very convenient and safe. Since the spruce will not be very stable, children or animals can easily knock it over. And this means that there is a risk of dousing carpets with water and wet electric garlands.

So, for the correct installation of the Christmas tree, you need to do the following:

  1. The trunk of the tree is cleaned from the bottom of the bark by 8–10 centimeters.
  2. The Christmas tree is placed in a bucket, fixed with stones, covered with sand and carefully compacted.
  3. If it was necessary to cut off the top or several branches, the wounds must be treated with garden pitch or something similar.
  4. Now the sand needs to be moistened by watering it with a solution of water with aspirin (a couple of tablets per 1-2 liters) or with citric acid, vinegar. Depending on the size of the Christmas tree, sand can absorb from 1 to 3 liters of acidic liquid.

How to care for a decorated Christmas tree?

If you need the tree to stand for a long time and not crumble, the “set and forget” option is definitely not effective.

Learn more