Making NEW bottle brush trees look OLD

LOTS of posts in lots of blogs and lost of pins of Pinterest about this topic, but just in case you haven’t stumbled upon any of those other ones, I’ll add my 2 cents to the pile of information.

This is a batch of NEW green bottle brush trees that I soaked in bleach and water.  I WISH I could tell you an exact amount of each to use, but I started with about 1 part bleach to 10 parts water (as many of the other instructions say to use) and ended up just adding more, without measuring it.  If I HAD to say, I’d guess my mix was more like 1 bleach to 4 water.

The results are NOT instant, but you don’t want to leave your trees in the bleach solution for too long either.  (it WILL eventually dissolve all the brushes on your tree!  Yep!  I learned that lesson the hard way last year!)

AND no 2 trees seemed to bleach out the same; as you can see in the first picture.  These are the kinds of trees I used.  I’ve ‘tested’ several different kinds of bottle brush trees and one thing I’ve noticed is that the kind that have PLASTIC bases, as opposed to the wood bases shown on these, do NOT bleach out.  No matter how long you soak them; even in straight bleach. So, if you have that kind, (from Dollar Tree or WalMart) don’t bother.But you CAN spray paint those kinds to get a different color!

And, for the first time (that I noticed at least!) this year, I found some ‘already bleached’ trees at Michael’s; right next to the green ones.

They came in packages of ALL small trees, and a combo pack of big and small ones.  And really, for the same price, if you want white trees, just buy them that color to begin with!

I wanted some PINK trees, so I used some of the already white ones to start with, because my bleached ones lightened, but did not lose all their color.  They just looked like old faded trees.  And when I started to see RUST on the tip of the trees, I pulled them out of the bleach and rinsed them right away.  Lest I have a repeat of last years complete ruin if all my trees!

I mixed up some food coloring in water with a little vinegar to dye my white trees.  It took a LOT more food coloring than I expected,  I had to keep adding more and more red.  but I tested each time and let the tree soak for a good five minutes each time before I added more coloring.  Ultimately I did get a nice faded shade of pink.

These are some with the white bases, that DON’T bleach out.  So I spray painted them!  But I did also dye some of my lighter bleached green ones with blue food coloring, with not much success.  I wanted a deep turquoise, but settled for pale after using almost an entire bottle of blue food coloring!

And you’ve already seen what I DID with many of my bleached and colored trees.

BTW, you can also just add GLITTER to the white trees to get color.  Just use a stiff brush to apply a liquid adhesive (I use liquid varnish!   Mod Podge works too; or thinned down glue) to the outer tips of your branches and sprinkle on the glitter!

NOW I am ‘on a mission’ to find the TINY vintage looking glass balls to put on my little bottle brush trees!  I see the trees with them ALL the time, but never ‘just the balls’!  sigh.