At any given moment, approximately 350 million Christmas trees are growing in the United States alone. Each year, 25 to 30 million of those trees are cut down. Live Christmas trees are generally grown sustainably on tree farms, but these farms do sometimes use pesticides that can then be brought into your home. If a live tree is your thing, maybe growing your own Christmas tree is the way to go!
Christmas trees became a tradition in what is present-day Estonia and Latvia in the 16th centuries. Evergreen trees were brought into the home by Protestant Christians and decorated with things like candles, roses, fruit, and other ornaments.
The practice of decorating trees for Christmas likely originates even further back to the Pagan tradition of Yule Trees. Unlike Christmas trees, Yule Trees were not cut down and instead decorated outside with ornaments that symbolized the sun, moon and stars as they looked on the Tree of Life.
These two traditions give us a couple different ideas for growing our own Christmas trees.
Plant a tree in a pot
Just about any tree can be grown in a pot, although some types of trees will live a shorter lifespan unless planted in the ground. Some pine trees handle potted growing conditions adequately enough, though Norfolk Pines in particular are your best bet for a potted Christmas tree.
When using a potted tree as your Christmas tree, it’s important that the tree is left outside for most of the year. If you bring your tree in too early, it may begin its spring growth cycle in the warmth of your home. When placed back outside, the tree will revert back to winter dormancy, thus confusing the tree and doing it harm. It’s best to bring your tree indoors the week of the holidays and then return it outside.
Potted pine trees can be purchased at a nursery, but if you’re willing to be patient, it’s easy to plant a pine tree from seed. Click here for a simple guide to planting a pine tree from seed.
Plant your own Christmas tree farm
If your heart is set on bringing in a cut Christmas tree each year, you can opt to grow your own Christmas trees at home. White pines and Douglas firs are the most common types of pines grown for use as a Christmas tree. These trees generally take 8 to 14 years to grow to harvest size.
If you have the space to do so, consider planting 10 to 14 Christmas trees. Your wait time will be approximately 10 years, but you can sustainably grow your own Christmas trees by propagating a new one each time you cut one down. Every year, you’ll have a tree grown right at your home!
Grow a Yule Tree
As we touched upon earlier, early Pagans had what were called Yule Trees which were trees planted permanetly outside and decorated. If you want a Christmas tree but you don’t necessarily need it to be in your home, consider planting it permanently outdoors.
Not only will you still have a lot of fun decorating your Yule Tree, your neighbors and passers-by will be able to enjoy the cheerfulness of the tree you decorated on some of the shortest, darkest, and coldest nights of the year. Plus you can hang home made bird feeders from the tree to provide a nice snack to visiting wildlife!