HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GROW A CHRISTMAS TREE?

snowy spruce

People have started to think about where their Christmas trees are coming from every year. This trend has also become a wake-up call for a lot of Christmas tree farmers to take proper care of the trees they are growing. People want to know the exact age of a tree, the care which was taken, and what will happen to the tree once Christmas is over. On top of this, a lot of people are also attempting to grow their own Christmas trees (me too). This might be because of a business opportunity or just for sentimental value. Anyhow, there is a lot of misinformation on the internet about the whole process so I decided to do some research.

The exact time it will take you to grow a tree is very difficult to estimate, it depends on a lot of variables. For example the species of the tree you are growing and the climate of the region you are in. However, it is safe to say that it usually takes about 6-10 years on average for a tree to grow 7ft tall.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF CHRISTMAS TREES

Artificial trees just don’t feel the same. Especially if you think about Christmas, it comes once a year and you will want to go for the real thing. The feel of a real Christmas tree is completely different in my opinion. The smell when you walk into the room coupled with the decorations can add a completely different dimension to your holiday season.

One thing where a lot of people get confused is about which tree to go for. In the old days, you wouldn’t have so many options. you would probably get what was growing around in your region. In recent times, you have many more options to choose from. Trees from all around the world are available to be delivered to your doorsteps.

One recommendation I would give from the beginning is to go for a tree that is naturally grown near you. Not only won’t the quality be better but it would also be better for the local businesses and ecology.

Nevertheless let’s take a look at some of the popular Christmas trees in the world.

BALSAM FIR

I would recommend this tree to anyone who is looking for that iconic Christmas tree smell. You can be sure that this tree will not only fill your living room but your entire house with the holiday smell. This tree also has a very vibrant dark green color with very soft needles. This tree is perfect for hanging wreaths.

DOUGLAS FIR

This is easily one of the most popular trees in the United States. This is because of its easy availability and also because of its shape. Douglas Firs have a very iconic pyramid shape which is perfect for that living room aesthetic. These trees also have a very mellow sweet smell. This way you are getting the best of both worlds. However, Douglas fir needs a bit more attention than other trees. You will have to water this tree a lot, otherwise, it will wither and die.

FRASER FIR

Also known as the ‘white house’ tree, this is a perfect choice if you are thinking about going heavy with decorations. This is because of its strong branches which don’t droop if you hang too many items on this. You also get a little bit of that Christmas smell.

COLORADO BLUE SPRUCE

This is easily the most distinctive-looking tree on this list. With its silvery look, it will give a very snowy winter vibe to your living room. There are some hidden advantages to this tree though. If you have pets who destroy trees, you don’t have to worry here. Because of its sharp needles, it will usually keep them away. But also a word of advice, wear long sleeves when decorating if you don’t want itchy and red arms for days.

blue spruce
blue spruce ready to take home for holidays

CANAAN FIR

This is a kind of hybrid tree between Balsam Fir and Fraser Fir. It has that needle retention from Fraser Fir, while also having a pyramid shape. You can identify this tree through its upward-curving needles. This tree hasn’t gained a lot of following due to being new but it’s a worthy contender.

WHITE SPRUCE

If the smell of the tree isn’t a deciding factor for you then this is a good choice. If you crush the needles of this tree, it can give an unpleasant smell. But other than that it is a great choice for heavy decorations. It also provides a very nice color and foliage.

WHITE FIR

White fir has an all-rounder quality to it. Ranging from a nice citrus smell to a unique vibrant color and needle retention. No wonder why this tree has jumped in popularity.

NORWAY SPRUCE

If you google ‘Christmas tree Rockefeller center 2015’ then this is the tree you will see. It sort of has a pendulum shape which gives off a forest look. But if you are looking to hand a lot of decoration then this is not a good choice. You also need to make sure that the tree is properly watered at all times.

EASTERN WHITE PINE

If you are looking for something minimalistic then this is the one. This is also perfect for people who don’t like or are sensitive to tree smell. With this tree, you can be sure that the attraction will be the tree itself. It is a beautiful option but it won’t be able to handle heavy decorations.

EASTER RED CEDAR

Known for its straight upward needles and an evergreen look. This tree will give off a little bit of a tropical vibe in my opinion. I have never seen anyone cut one down and take it indoors for holidays. It’s rather growing in the yard and decorated to give some extra oomph to the Christmas vibe.

WHAT’S THE FASTEST GROWING CHRISTMAS TREE?

If you are planning to start growing a Christmas tree today, don’t expect a full-grown tree next year. It will take years for you to have a properly grown tree. The interesting thing is that the time it takes a tree to grow varies a lot. Depending on the species you have, it might take 15 years or 4 to have a 7 feet tree. Let’s take a look at all the levels of tree growth.

Among the fast-growing trees are the Leyland Cypress and Arizona Cypress. The former can grow about 3-4 feet per year in its youth. Usually, they are found in the southern US region. The Arizona Cypress also shows a similar growth rate. They can be grown in the southern states as well like Florida, Georgia, etc.

Among the average growth rates are one of the most popular trees. Fraser Fir and Canaan Fir are considered to have an average growth rate. The latter can grow at an impressive 2-3 feet per annum. Similarly, the Fraser Fir has a cycle of about 7 years. both of these trees are usually found in the southern states as well including Virginia and Tennessee.

The Eastern Redcedar is considered to be on the slow side. You can expect them to grow at about 1-2 feet per annum. With a similar growth rate is the Virginia pine. Although with the right amount of time, you can expect them to grow huge!

douglas fir

HOW TO GROW YOUR OWN CHRISTMAS TREE?

If you have finally decided to go ahead and try growing your own Christmas tree then you should have all the information necessary. The first step would be choosing the correct tree. Don’t just go for the one which looks the best or grows the fastest. There are specific trees for each region and choosing a tree this way will give the best results.

Entire North America for example has been divided into zones based on the climate. You can check which zone you are in by simply googling your location, or look here.

SELECTING THE TREE

Now, if we talk about Firs, they are best suited for zones 4-6 on average. Usually with a variation of 1 zone for different kinds. For example, Fraser Fir is best suited for zones 4-7. Douglas Fir is best suited for zones 4-6.  While Balsam Fir is best suited for zones 3-6. Firs grow the best in cooler areas and higher elevations.

Pines are known for their fast growth rate. They are ideal for zones 3-8 with the only exception being Sand Pine. They can grow in zones 7-10 which is a hotter climate. If the soil around your house is not the best then go for Virginia Pine and Scotch Pine. They both can give pretty decent results even with poor soil.

Spruce is ideal for zones 2-7 and they prefer a cooler climate. The one downfall with spruces is their shorter life span post-harvesting.

PLANTING IN THE POT

Before you move the tree to the outdoors, you should first grow the seedling in a pot. I would suggest getting a young seedling from a nearby nursery. Before you put the seedling in the pot, make sure you have prepared the soil. You don’t want the Ph level of the soil to be too high or low. The recommended level is around 6.5 and 7.

You should add some peat, vermiculite, and perlite. You can also consider adding a little lime to the potting mixture. Again remember to be within the suggested Ph levels.

After this, you just have to make sure to water the plant at least once a week, don’t overdo it though. If the plant is indoors make sure there is ample sunlight or fluorescent lamps to provide heat.

MOVING TO THE PLANTING SITE

Before you plant, get the soil tested and stick to the correct Ph levels. One other thing you need to keep in mind is to make sure the planting site gets a good amount of sun. I would also mow the area beforehand. This way there will be less competition for the soil nutrients.

One plus point would be if there is a little slope on the planting site. Christmas trees don’t like too much moisture, a gentle slope makes for good drainage.

After this, all you have to do is place the plant in the soil. The steps here are pretty similar to any sapling. Dig an appropriate-sized hole and place the plant there. Cover it with soil and gently tap the ground. make sure to water the plant especially during the summer months and droughts.

HARVESTING

Harvesting time comes within 6-10 years depending on the species. Most people harvest their tree when it is about 6-8 feet in height. This is the average ceiling height in most people’s houses, but as it is your tree, this is entirely up to you.

WHERE TO GET SPRUCE (OR FIR) SAPLINGS?

These days you can get saplings delivered right to your doorstep from any of the growers across the country. But even with this option, I would recommend going to your local nursery. They can give you better tips according to the local climate and point you in the right direction to pick the most suitable tree for your needs.

HOW OLD IS A 7FT CHRISTMAS TREE?

As I have talked about before, this answer depends on a lot of factors. Starting with which variety of trees are you using and factors such as nutrition, soil type, altitude, and climate will affect the growth rate a lot.

For example, high altitude will result in relatively slower growth. Similarly, if your region is prone to extreme cold or heat, the tree might get frostbite or become dry.

On average, if all other conditions are correct you can expect a tree to become 7ft in about 8-12 years. You don’t want to speed this up too much. The faster a tree grows, the lesser foliage it will have.

CAN YOU KEEP YOUR TREE ALIVE ALL YEAR?

A lot of people think that your tree will go to waste after the holidays so if you have a garden then I would recommend going for a potted plant. After the holidays you can replant the Christmas tree it and it will make your garden look beautiful all year round. You just have to make sure to properly take care of it.

Of course, some trees might go through the cycle of shedding and dormancy. But to my knowledge Christmas tree varieties are evergreen in nature because of their needle-like leaves. This means that the tree will be green all year round. Once you see the needles drop, it means that something is wrong. It’s a sign that your tree is dying and it might not recover anymore.

HOW MUCH DO CHRISTMAS TREES USUALLY COST?

The prices of both real and fake Christmas trees have been on a rise recently. A lot of people have been blaming this on Millennials as they have started realizing it is more economical and safer for the environment to go for a real tree.

Interestingly in the past three years, the price of real Christmas trees has risen by over 17%. Some people go for a real tree because of their nostalgia factor or they just prefer the feel of a real tree. For a 7ft tree, you can expect to spend as much as 85$.

Surprisingly one tip to get a real tree for cheaper is to buy on Christmas eve as a lot of shops are trying to get rid of their stock. You can get the price down to as low as 50$.

WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES FOR BUYING A CHRISTMAS TREE?

If you are the type of person who doesn’t see the appeal in buying a whole tree, don’t worry. There are a lot of options out there for everyone. Especially with Amazon and other similar websites, you can get almost anything you want.

Some of the best alternatives can be Christmas trees made of other materials such as metal. Cloth, paintings, Lights, sometimes even ladders. If you don’t want anything resembling a tree, neon lights or fairy lights are the best options. You can pair them up with other decorations to give a very holiday feel to your home.

I know people who only buy fir wreaths for Christmas. It gives the smell of a real tree and at the same time you do not have to blow a hole in your wallet at the same time saving a tree.

HOW LONG CAN MY TREE LAST INDOORS?

If you take proper care of your tree once you buy it, it can last for about 5 weeks. So you don’t have to worry about getting your tree in early December and if it will survive till the end of the holiday. All you got to do is trim the base of the tree once you get it home and give it enough water. Another tip is to keep the tree away from heaters and strong lights. More heat means the tree will dry up faster.

fir cones with seeds

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION

If you are confused after reading so much information, don’t worry. I will try to address some of the most common queries that people have. Hopefully, it will make it easier for you to make the decision.

HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO GROW A CHRISTMAS TREE?

Most of the work is done during the first couple of years of growing the tree. Once the tree has been settled in the soil, all it takes is pruning and watering from time to time. Don’t worry, it won’t take up all your time.

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST TO GROW A TREE?

The costs involved in growing a tree are the sapling, water, and fertilizers. The overall cost of growing 1 tree is pretty low, close to zero I would say. The most expensive thing you need is water, and it’s only necessary after planting the sapling.

IS ARTIFICIAL TREE A BETTER OPTION THAN A NATURAL ONE?

It depends on your preference really. An artificial tree won’t be able to give you the same experience. The smell and the look can’t be replaced. Although an artificial tree can last for multiple seasons easily.

CONCLUSION

To sum it all up, it is not that hard to grow a Christmas tree on your own if you have space for it. Sure, it will 8-10 years, but the end reward will be worth it. Make sure to do your research before starting the process. This includes the type of tree and getting your soil tested. Even if you are buying a tree make sure to trip the base and give it ample water to increase its life.

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