Personalize the festive season — grow your own Christmas tree!
Having a Christmas tree in the house has been popular since the 19th century; bringing a tree indoors was a pagan tradition in Europe for hundreds of years before that.
Bringing in the Christmas tree is a ritual that most people enjoy. Not everyone is in love with the potential mess of needles dropping everywhere, however! Some people prefer an artificial tree for this reason. But many types of evergreens will not drop needles and make excellent choices if your heart is set on a real tree.
Why not take it one step further and grow your own Christmas tree? You will only have to go as far as the garden to get it. You will also have less needle drop, you can choose which type of tree you grow, and you’ll get immense satisfaction from growing something yourself rather than buying it.
Which types of evergreen make the best Christmas tree?
Many different types of evergreen trees make excellent Christmas trees. The most common choices are usually firs and spruces.
The classic Christmas tree famous for adorning Trafalgar Square in London every year is the Norway spruce (Picea abies).
But other evergreen trees drop a lot fewer needles, such as the Nordmann fir (Abies nordmanniana). This has become much more prevalent as the tree of choice for the festive period.
The Fraser fir (Abies fraseri) holds its needles very well. Or you could try a blue spruce tree (Picea pungens) for a different, modern look. We like the idea of a blue Christmas tree!
You could even choose a pine tree, such as the Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris).
Another option is to think about how you could use prunings from other evergreen trees at Christmas. Bundles of cypress cuttings last surprisingly well indoors.
Can you stop needles dropping from a Christmas tree?
Have you ever brought in a lush green Christmas tree abundant with dense, beautiful needles, only to find it stripped bare within a week? The problem with buying a Christmas tree is you don’t know how long it has been cut and stored for.
Some trees are treated to keep their needles for longer. But if you grow your own, you remove all doubt about whether your tree is going to drop its needles or not. Your own tree will be fresh from the garden, and likely to last a lot longer than anything you can buy.
You can help your tree to hold onto its needles for longer by keeping it cool (not always that easy indoors!). It also helps if you bring it in as close as possible to Christmas. This is much easier when you don’t need to buy from a shop, just walk into the garden.
How long does it take to grow a Christmas tree?
This depends on whether you are growing from seed or from a young plant.
How long does it take to grow a Christmas tree from seed?
It will take about 10 years to grow a decent-sized Christmas tree from seed, although it depends on what type of tree you choose. Seeds should be soaked, then chilled in a freezer before you sow them in a seedbed with plenty of grit.
After a couple of years, plant your young trees out where you want them to grow. In about 10 years your Christmas tree will be ready! Grow a little plantation if you have room, so you have lots to choose from when it comes to cutting. If you sow a Christmas tree seed every year, you will have trees of different sizes in your plantation, which gives a pleasing effect.
Your firs and spruces can grow in amongst deciduous trees as long as there is enough space and light. This can create a lovely arboretum-style feature in your garden. Plus you will have just a short walk to get your Christmas tree each year!
How long does it take to grow a Christmas tree from a young plant?
This is quicker than growing from seed. If you buy a young potted Christmas tree, you can let it grow on in the garden until it reaches the size you want.
Choose a tree that is already 2 feet tall, and it will be happy indoors over Christmas. It shouldn’t drop needles, as long as you keep the compost in the pot moist. Protect your carpet and furniture with an outer container that is watertight.
If you buy a tree that has already grown to about 2 feet you will have something much larger in as little as 5 years. It’s nice to watch your own Christmas tree grow taller every year, especially when there are children in the family growing with it!