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When we got our Christmas tree, which the farm called a Fraser fir, we were told to give it warm-to-hot water, and to ensure that the water line stayed above the bottom (cut) end of the tree. Otherwise, it might sap over and prevent the tree from soaking up more water. We did that while we were here, but we were away for four days last weekend, and despite filling the basin to the brim, it was empty by the time we got home. We refilled it, and it’s been 24 hours without any change to the water line, where previously it was soaking up a substantial portion of the water every day.

The tree itself still seems fine, with only a light scattering of needles on the floor under it and the ones on the tree itself still seeming healthy and flexible, not dried out and brittle. Presumably that’s just due to all the water it had already soaked up.

Is there anything we can do about this situation? I don’t have the equipment in my apartment to saw a new cut on the bottom of the tree (nor do I much like the idea of taking all the ornaments off so that I could do that), but it seems likely there isn’t much else to be done about it. Am I missing any easier steps that might help? Ultimately, we’d like the tree to remain fresh and healthy through New Year’s at a minimum, since we’re hosting a New Year’s Eve party, but we certainly wouldn’t mind our tree lasting beyond that.

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When you got home after the four-day trip, if the water was below the bottom of the cut then the xylem effectively closed, which is why the tree isn't soaking up any water. Frasers tend to hold their needles well, and with New Year's Eve now only 4 days away the tree should be fine. I certainly wouldn't take everything off of it to make a new cut.

  • This is what I figured, thanks for the confirmation. – KRyan Dec 27 '18 at 14:24
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The fact this tree was sucking up water meant it was quite vigorous for a dead tree. I am assuming this is a cut tree, not live, right? Keep your tree as cool as possible. Taking it out doors with the snow and cold will help. Yes, saw another cut. Bring it in when you do your party. Redo the decorations? Fraser Firs are high altitude trees. Incredible trees. There is also a spray you can use to minimize the leaves transpiring too heavily...Leaf Shine or some such thing. It would help your tree to last longer by taking it outside with cold temperatures. New cut, fresh water. This will cause your tree to look as green as it is right now. The spray slows transpiration and dusts and revives the color and adds a bit of shine.

Like Jurp suggested, your tree might make it just fine for the next few days. If too decorated and/or too big, I would carefully tip the tree over and saw an inch or two off the bottom of the trunk with chain saw or pruning saw. A helper would make it much easier. Just UNPLUG every thing first. Remove valuable ornaments until the tree is stabilized. Use plain water, no additives such as sugar or chlorine.

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    Use a chainsaw in an apartment? They will never let their tree go dry ever..... – kevinsky Dec 27 '18 at 14:05
  • Unfortunately, I don't have a saw (chain- or otherwise), but I really appreciate all of the information. – KRyan Dec 27 '18 at 14:23
  • You could rent a chain saw, borrow one? A good pruning saw would make an easy cut. I would at least carve up the bottom to open the vascular system and get water to be sucked up into the plant again, or the needles will be falling off. I would take a serrated steak knife and garf up the end of this trunk. Do you have a drill? Screw 1/2 inch to 1 inch screws into and then back out of the bottom of this trunk. That will help to unplug the vascular system and add to the longevity of your tree! – stormy Dec 28 '18 at 5:17
  • Kevinsky, I've had HAD to do this...a short burst will not cause the sprinkler system to go off. A longer one will! Even in the garage! Very embarrassing! – stormy Dec 28 '18 at 5:19

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