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No, adding sugar to Christmas tree water won’t help keep it fresh

While some people swear by adding something extra like sugar, soda and even vodka to their Christmas tree’s water, our sources say fresh water is the best option.

In the weeks before Christmas every year, millions of Americans head to Christmas tree farms across the country to buy a real, live tree for the holiday.

Online searches show that many people are wondering how to keep a real Christmas tree fresh. Several VERIFY viewers and some websites claim adding something extra to the tree’s water – like sugar, soda and even vodka – can help it stay fresh longer.

THE QUESTION

Does adding sugar or other substances to Christmas tree water help keep it fresh? 

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, adding sugar or other substances to Christmas tree water won’t help keep it fresh. 

WHAT WE FOUND

According to the Michigan State University (MSU) Extension, plain tap water is all that is needed to keep your Christmas tree fresh during the holidays. On its website, a professor warns against adding any extra additives like sugar, aspirin, bleach or floral preservatives to the tree’s water. 

“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,” Dr. Bert Cregg from MSU Extension writes. 

Dr. Kathy Crowley, an assistant professor of plant biology at Unity College in Maine, told VERIFY adding things like sugar, soda or vodka can actually do more harm to the tree than good. She also says, “All the tree needs is basic fresh water.” 

“I know all of us would love to be able to add something magical to the water to keep our Christmas trees more fresh. But truly, the main thing you can do for your Christmas tree is to make sure you have a fresh tree to start with and that your tree isn't all dried out before you even get it home,” Crowley said. 

“If you add too many extra things to the water, you could conceivably cause some of the water to be drawn out the bottom of the tree rather than going up into the tree — much better simply to let the natural process of water uptake work,” Crowley added.

The National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) says displaying trees in water with a traditional reservoir type stand is the “most effective” way to minimize needle loss and maintain the tree’s freshness. 

“When you get it home, make sure you cut off the base of the trunk — just a narrow disc, maybe half an inch to make sure that the base of the trunk is open and that water will be able to enter the tree,” Crowley said. “Then, make sure that water is always touching the base of the tree, and that way the tree will be able to get the water that it needs to stay hydrated.”

More from VERIFY: Yes, there is a Santa shortage for the 2021 Christmas season

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