For many people, Christmas just doesn’t feel as merry without the smell of Pine, Fir, Spruce, Cypress, or Cedar wafting through the living room while you exchange gifts with your family. Once the holidays are over and all decorations have been taken down, you may be curious to know if your Christmas tree could be replanted and grow again.
A freshly-cut Christmas tree cannot survive without its roots. Hence, it cannot be replanted. Potted Christmas trees and dug-out Christmas trees, having their root system intact, can be replanted. The key is in keeping the root ball wet and keeping the tree indoors for no more than 1 week.
If you are on a mission to replant your Christmas tree this year, we are here to share some tips and facts in regrowing both potted and freshly-cut Christmas trees!
Table of Contents
- 1 Replanting a Christmas Tree: Cut vs Potted
- 2 8 Golden Tips on Buying a Potted Christmas Tree
- 3 Can You Propagate a Christmas Tree’s Branch? Yes, in 7 Steps
- 4 Why You Should Replant Your Christmas Tree
- 5 Takeaways
- 6 Sources
Around 30 million real Christmas trees are sold in the USA each year . Cutting down, transporting, and landfilling these trees contribute their fair share to global warming. So you might be wondering, is there a way to save your tree instead of throwing it out?
Christmas trees without their roots, except for extremely rare occasions, will not survive. Hence, replanting a chopped Christmas tree will almost certainly not lead to the tree’s survival and growth.
Freshly-cut Christmas trees are more commonly sold by retailers and nurseries compared to potted Christmas trees because trees are easier to transport without a root ball. Unfortunately, detaching the roots of plants are, in most cases, equivalent to giving them a death sentence especially in the case of big trees.
However, the possibility is not completely nonexistent! A few people have reportedly kept their Christmas trees alive after sticking the cut trees back into the soil. Nature can be surprising and plants can find their way to survive. The key is in keeping the tree constantly hydrated.
Instead of burning or landfilling your tree, it will be better for the environment to have your trees mulched for composting, chipped for landscaping, drilled into river banks for flood barriers , or fed to goats (if it was organically grown).
If you intend to try your luck in replanting a Christmas tree without roots, here are a few tips to follow:
- Ideal conditions: Make sure to replant the tree in the same environment, soil type, and temperature where it was harvested.
- Cut fresh. Saw off the stump and apply a rooting powder.
- Holes: Drill a few holes at the base of the trunk to allow water to seep through.
- Remove leaves. Pluck off some foliage at the bottom.
- Water. Keep a steady stream of water flowing into the base of the tree.
Potted Christmas trees can be easily replanted and, in the right growing conditions, the chances of survival are pretty high.
Last year, after discovering the environmental impact of Christmas trees, I decided to buy a freshly potted one and later on transplanted it outside in a larger pot. It was definitely a success!
So, how did I repot my Christmas tree?
After the Christmas tree has been decorated and displayed inside the home for a week, you can follow these steps in replanting the tree:
- Pre-dig the hole. Weeks before the ground is frozen in late December or early January, dig a hole which is as deep and thrice as wide as the root ball of your tree. Temporarily cover the hole with dried leaves wrapped inside a plastic bag.
- Don’t replant in harsh winter climates. If you are in Zone 6 or lower, wait until spring to replant your tree. You can keep the tree in your garage, watering it daily. If you are in Zone 7 or higher, acclimatize the tree in your garage 3-4 days before bringing it outside for replanting.
- Remove all synthetic obstructions. Put the tree in the hole. Cut off all nettings, twines, and containers which can girdle the roots and kill the tree in later years.
- Untangle the roots. Remove matted roots but be careful not to disturb the main root ball.
- Cover the roots with the same soil. It will be healthier for the tree to be replanted on its native soil. You can also fill the hole with loose, organic matter, making sure that the soil is not compact.
- Protect the trunk. Make sure that the topsoil slopes away from the trunk. Slowly water the soil and check for areas which cave in.
- Insulate the base. Surround the base of the tree with 2-3 inches of fallen leaves, grass cuttings, or other lawn debris.
- Stabilize. Place 4 or more stakes around the tree and tie them together with some wire or twine, reaching up to ⅔ of the tree’s height. This is done to keep the plant base steady and to avoid disruption in root growth. Remove the stakes after 1 year.
- Wait before fertilizing. It is generally recommended to skip fertilizing in the first year after transplanting so the roots can have a chance to establish themselves . Specifically avoid Nitrogen-rich fertilizers that can induce quick growth.
Instead of chopping down a tree for the holidays, you might consider buying a living one. Local nurseries sell potted Christmas trees when they are 2-6 ft (1- 2 m) tall. Christmas trees can also be dug out with their root ball wrapped in burlap sacks.
Here are some tips to follow when buying a potted tree:
- Check your hardiness zone. Choose a type of tree which is tagged with a hardiness rating similar or lower than your zone. You can check your hardiness zone here.
- Decide on the size. Pick a tree which can fit well in your vehicle and your house. Keep in mind that bigger trees need a higher volume of daily watering.
- Ensure plant health. Watch out for yellowing and drooping needles, an irregularly-shaped trunk, or some shedding bark. If that’s the case, avoid buying the tree
- Check the root ball. If possible, examine the root ball, making sure that it is well-developed but not overcrowded. For dug-up trees, bring home a good amount of the tree’s original soil. Keep the roots wet at all times.
- Secure the tree. Wrap the tree in fabric on the way home. Tie it up steadily to minimize stress from being shaken.
- Acclimatize the plant. Before bringing it inside, keep the tree in your garage for 3-4 days. Once inside, keep it away from sources of heat such as vents, fireplaces, and windows with direct sunlight.
- Water daily. Do not flood the container. You may place ice on the topsoil to help in cooling and maintaining moisture. You may also spray the leaves with a mixture of pine oil and water.
- Keep inside for 5-7 days. If you want your tree to survive once you replant it outdoors, never keep it indoors for longer than a week .
It is possible to propagate a Christmas tree branch. However, given the lack of soft tissue, it is necessary to pick a fresh and relatively flexible branch and use root hormone.
Since freshly-cut Christmas trees have extremely low chances of surviving after being replanted, you can instead choose to propagate the tree through branch cuttings.
Here are the steps to follow in replanting a Christmas tree’s branches:
- Keep the tree well-watered. While displayed indoors, the tree should never be allowed to dry out. As soon as moisture runs out, the sap will seal off the stump and keep the tree from drinking any more water.
- Choose a healthy branch. Near the top of the tree, choose a straight 5-inch branch with fresh buds. The sooner you cut it from the parent tree, the higher your chances are of having a successful replanting.
- Cut the branch. Cut the chosen branch with a slanted angle. Pluck out the needles all the way to the middle.
- Apply rooting hormone. Dip the branch in a store-bought rooting hormone. You can also choose to apply Aloe Vera gel, willow water, or honey to serve as an antiseptic that can fight diseases.
- Let it sit in a jar of water. Keep the branch in a jar of water with the needles above the lid. Place the jar in a cool but well-lit area. It will take 4 weeks or longer for the roots to appear. Replace the water once a week and mix in some rooting hormone.
- Transfer in soil. Once the roots are once inch long, place the cutting in a burlap sack filled with oxygen-rich soil. Water when the topsoil is dry.
- Transfer outside. In the spring, the tree can be transplanted outdoors. You can easily tear off the burlap sack without damaging the roots.
If you are an environmentally-conscious consumer who is looking to reduce your carbon footprint, you can replant your Christmas tree after the holidays. Some families have created a tradition of replanting their trees each year and watching the trees grow along with the kids.
If grown successfully, the tree will reward you with a sunshade and a windbreak. Pine, Fir, Spruce, and other conifers can also raise the price of your property because of their distinct smell and aesthetic value.
However, a Christmas tree can only be replanted once. To give your tree a chance to establish its roots and survive against storms, you should not uproot your tree in the next holiday season to be reused for indoor decorations.
- Christmas trees with their root balls cut off are unlikely to survive.
- Potted Christmas trees or dug out Christmas trees can be replanted.
- The key to a successful replanting of a Christmas tree is to keep the root ball wet and to keep the tree indoors not longer than 7 days.
- You can propagate a Christmas tree from its branches.