Can you replant a Christmas Tree? The Answer May Surprise You!

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Did you know that almost 30 million live Christmas trees are sold annually in the United States? That’s a staggering number of trees that bring joy and festive spirit to homes during the holiday season. But what happens to these trees once the holidays are over? Can you replant a Christmas tree and give it a second life in your backyard?

We’ll explore whether it’s possible to extend the lifespan of these trees beyond just a few weeks and tips and tricks you can employ during the holiday season to increase your chances of keeping that tree alive.

So, if you’ve ever wondered if you can try replanting your Christmas tree instead of tossing it out, keep reading! You might be surprised to learn in some cases, you can indeed replant that Christmas tree.

A full size lush Christmas tree against a bright white background. The image is used to ask the question if a fresh Christmas tree like this can be replanted after the holidays.
Table of Contents

    Replanting a Christmas Tree Without Roots

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    We’ll also explore alternative methods for keeping your tree alive after cutting, tips for preserving moisture and preventing needle drop during transplantation, creative ways to repurpose a rootless Christmas tree in your garden or landscape, and how long you can expect a rootless tree to survive once planted.

    How To Increase Your Chances of Replanting Your Christmas Tree

    Replanting a cut real Christmas tree without roots may seem impossible, but you can get lucky with the right approach. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

    Step 1: Choose the Correct Type of Tree for Replanting 

    Not every living Christmas tree is suitable for replanting. Look for species that have a higher chance of survival when transplanted, such as spruce or cedar trees. We have provided a list of appropriate trees below.

    Suitable Species for Successful Transplantation

    Not all types of Christmas trees will root after being cut. Most common Christmas tree varieties, like pine trees, cannot root and grow once cut. However, there are a few exceptions.

    Norway Spruce: 

    Norway spruce trees (Picea abies) have some potential for regrowth if cut and maintained in water immediately after being harvested. The chances of success are still relatively low, but they can develop roots and be planted after the holiday season.

    White Spruce: 

    White spruce (Picea glauca) is another variety that may have limited success in rooting after being cut and placed in water. Like the Norway spruce, it’s not a guaranteed success, but there have been cases of it working.

    Blue Spruce: 

    While it’s less likely than the live trees still rooted in the ground, blue spruce trees (Picea pungens) may sometimes form roots when cut and placed in water. Success can be highly variable.

    Eastern Redcedar:

    Eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana) is a type of evergreen that may have some success in rooting if cut and placed in water. However, this is still relatively rare.

    Fraser Fir: 

    While there are some anecdotal reports of Fraser firs successfully taking root, the success rate for replanting these trees is very low. As a result, Fraser firs are typically harvested for use as cut Christmas trees rather than for their potential to be replanted. If you want to plant a Fraser fir, purchasing a live, potted fir from a nursery or garden center is best. 

    Remember that even in the rare cases where these trees form roots after being cut, the success rate is low, and the resulting tree may not thrive in the long term. It’s usually better to buy a potted live Christmas tree if you want one that can be planted after the holiday season. Additionally, most Christmas tree varieties sold as cut trees are not intended for planting and may have been treated with chemicals to preserve their appearance, which can hinder root development.

    Warning: Before planting any tree in your backyard, check that the tree in question is not invasive in your area. Norway spruce, for example, was brought to North America via Europe and is considered invasive. 

    Fir tree on a white background.

    Step 2: Prepare the Tree For Planting

    Remove any decorations or lights from the tree before replanting. Trim any broken branches or uneven growth to ensure better aesthetics once planted.

    Step 3 Dig a Hole To Accommodate the Tree Trunk 

    Prepare the planting site by digging a broad and deep hole to accommodate the tree’s trunk and any possible roots that have formed. The hole size should be twice as wide as the trunk.

    Step 4: Carefully Remove the Tree And Place In the Planting Hole

    Gently lift it from its stand or container and plant the tree in a prepared hole. Be cautious not to damage any remaining branches during this process.

    Step 5: Fill the Hole around the Trunk and Roots With soil:

    Once the tree is in position, fill in around the root ball with soil and firmly pack it down to provide stability.

    Step 6: Water The Soil Around the Tree Thoroughly

    After planting your living tree, water your newly transplanted tree generously to help settle the soil and hydrate its roots.

    Recently planted evergreen tree being watered.

    Replanting a Cut Christmas Tree with Growing Buds – Higher Success Rate

    Replanting a cut Christmas tree with growing buds presents a unique opportunity to extend the life of your holiday centerpiece. While not all species are suitable for successful transplantation, certain trees have a higher chance of thriving when replanted outdoors.

    To make the most of this opportunity, it’s essential to understand how to encourage bud growth on your cut tree and care for the tree once transplanted.

    Unique Opportunity for Replanting

    Replanting a cut Christmas tree with growing buds allows you to enjoy its beauty beyond the holiday season. Instead of discarding the tree after use, you can give it a second chance at life by planting it in your backyard or garden. Planting your holiday tree will add greenery and create lasting memories as you watch the tree grow over the years.

    Encouraging Bud Growth on Your Cut Tree

    To increase the chances of bud growth on your cut Christmas tree before replanting it, there are several techniques you can try: 

    Keep It Hydrated: Ensure that your tree remains well-watered throughout its time indoors by placing it in water-filled containers or using specialized stands that provide hydration.

    Mist Regularly: Spraying water on the branches helps maintain humidity levels and prevents them from drying out.

    Avoid Heat Sources: Keep your tree away from direct heat sources such as radiators or fireplaces, which can cause excessive drying.

    Provide Adequate Light: Place your tree near windows or in well-lit areas to provide sufficient natural light, as this can stimulate bud growth.

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    Caring for Newly Transplanted Trees with Growing Buds

    Once you have successfully replanted your cut Christmas tree with growing buds, it’s essential to provide proper care and nurture it during its transition:

    Watering: Ensure the tree receives adequate water, especially during dry spells or prolonged periods of heat. Water profoundly, but avoid overwatering, as excessive moisture can lead to root rot.

    Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch around the tree’s base to help retain moisture and regulate soil temperature.

    Protection from Cold: If you live in an area with harsh winters, protect your newly transplanted tree from extreme cold by wrapping it in burlap or using protective covers.

    Pruning: Regularly prune your tree to maintain shape and remove dead or damaged branches. Pruning promotes healthy growth and prevents disease.

    Fertilization: Consider fertilizing your transplanted tree with a slow-release fertilizer formulated for evergreens. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application rates.

    Cedar tree isolated on white. The image is used to illustrate what types of Christmas trees can regrow.

    Potential Challenges and Risks

    While replanting a cut Christmas tree with growing buds offers an exciting opportunity, there are potential challenges and risks to consider:

    Survival Rate: Not all trees will survive transplantation, even with growing buds. Factors such as soil conditions, weather extremes, and improper care can affect their chances of survival.

    Size Limitations: Cut Christmas trees are typically smaller than mature trees in nurseries or forests. Your replanted tree may take several years to reach its full size.

    Time and Effort: Replanting a cut tree requires time, effort, and patience.

    Fir tree isloated on white. The image is used to illustrate what types of christmas trees can regrow.

    Summary – Can you Replant Your Christmas Tree? – Yes, No, and Maybe.

    Replanting a Christmas tree is possible, but the success rate varies. Cut trees without roots can be replanted, but the chances of success are low. Trees with growing buds are a better option but require proper attention. In either case, choose the right tree and prepare the planting site carefully. That tree may thrive and live in your yard for years and years to come. What a wonderful reminder of Christmases past.

    And if you want to know more about Christmas trees, check out the National Christmas Tree Association.

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    Can I replant any Christmas tree?

    The ability to successfully replant a cut Christmas tree depends on the type of tree you choose. Some species have better survival rates when transplanted than others. It is advisable to research which types are more suitable for your specific climate and soil conditions before purchasing.

    How long does it take for a replanted Christmas tree to grow?

    The growth rate of replanted Christmas trees varies depending on several factors, such as species, environmental conditions, and care provided. On average, a replanted Christmas tree can take 5 to 10 years to reach its full height.

    Can I use any soil to replant my Christmas tree?

    While different species of Christmas trees have varying soil preferences, using well-draining soil rich in organic matter is generally recommended. This type of soil ensures proper root development and minimizes the risk of waterlogging.

    Do I need to prune my replanted Christmas tree?

    Pruning your replanted Christmas tree is only necessary if damaged or diseased branches exist. However, light pruning can be done to shape the tree as it grows.

    How often should I water my replanted Christmas tree?

    Proper watering is crucial for the survival and growth of a replanted Christmas tree. It is recommended to water deeply but infrequently, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between watering sessions. Monitor the moisture levels regularly and adjust accordingly based on weather conditions.

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