My Cut Christmas Tree Is Budding New Growth

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Cut Christmas trees are living things. Though they are cut down and brought indoors, they can sometimes continue to exhibit signs of growth. If a Christmas tree is budding in a house, it could be responding to the warmer indoor temperature. Although the tree is no longer attached to its roots, warmer temperatures might still initiate the process of budding, as would occur naturally outdoors during the springtime.

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Christmas tree is budding

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Whatever the evergreen tree species—whether fraser fir, blue spruce, scotch pine or any other conifer—your freshly cut tree was in its dormant phase outdoors in the cold. After you choose it at the tree lot or Christmas tree farm and bring it home, you put it inside in a Christmas tree stand. With the heat turned on inside, your tree could become very warm, as might happen outdoors in warm weather.

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Typical Christmas tree species are dormant before you bring them inside, so your indoor, warmer temps can confuse them into thinking it's time to put on new growth.

Christmas tree new growth can vary depending on the outdoor temperatures in which the tree was growing. If the fall was cold and the winter early, trees can go dormant early. If the tree spent enough time in the cold, it won't bud before warm temperatures return. The chill time is generally about six to 10 weeks, but the temperatures during that period need to stay consistently below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

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What to do with buds

If you see buds forming on your tree, it's best to leave them alone. They won't be able to grow much during the holiday season, so you needn't worry that they'll ruin the appearance of your tree. Alternatively, you can trim buds carefully with pruning shears or use these small pieces in your other holiday decorations.

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Some people even succeed in replanting the buds. Take a fresh bud (or a few) and put it in a glass with water. If it sprouts roots, you can try then planting it outside.

Christmas tree care after cutting

To prolong the life of a freshly cut Christmas tree, choose an area in your home that is at least 3 feet from any heat source and away from heating vents, fireplaces and direct sunlight. When you get the tree home, give it proper care by putting it in an unheated, sheltered place like your garage in a bucket of fresh water. Inside, put down something to protect the floor and use a tree stand that holds at least a gallon of water.

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Remember: Even though it is cut, this is still a living Christmas tree.

Check the bottom of the tree, and if it is covered with dried sap, cut 1 inch off the bottom. Then, immediately place it in the stand and secure it tightly with the bolts. Keep the container filled with water. If the level drops below the base of the tree, more sap will form, which can hinder water absorption. Check the water level several times daily. Thirsty Christmas trees can absorb several quarts a day, and your tree will probably drink even more during its first day or two inside.

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Keep checking for dead tree branches, and remove them as necessary using pruning shears. You will also want to vacuum up any dropped pine needles, as they can be a fire hazard (and prickly to step on). If the tree seems to be drying out even though it has water, there may not be enough humidity in the air. Try placing a humidifier in the room or changing the tree's location as a last resort.

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