Have you ever been tempted to grow your own Christmas tree and wondering how long it takes? Or maybe you’re pondering the thought that you could start a small Christmas tree farm?
If you’ve got land to spare then growing Christmas trees is a great way to make use of it, but you need to be aware that it can be a long-term commitment.
The trees commonly used for our festive decorations are normally a rapidly growing variety, but even the fastest-growing tree will take time before it is big enough to use.
How Long Does It Take to Grow a Christmas Tree
There are many different types of Christmas trees, and each variety has a different growth rate. The slow-growing Balsam Fir grows 12″ per year, whereas the fast-growing Leyland Cypress can grow over 24″ each year. In the right conditions, some Christmas trees can grow 4ft each year.
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How fast your Christmas tree grows depends on the stage you purchase it at. Christmas trees have several stages of growth; the seed stage (which is slow), then a growth spurt (from sapling), and then the growth rate slows down again once it reaches mature height.
Be aware that many Christmas tree varieties grow to a great height, so you’ll see significant growth for quite a few years. They can be shaped by pruning, to some extent, but you may lose that traditional “Christmas tree look” if you need to prune the top.
You can significantly increase the tree’s growth rate by purchasing a sapling, versus growing it from seed.
Let’s take a look at some of the different varieties of Christmas trees and how long they take to grow.
How Long Do Different Types of Christmas Tree Take to Grow?
Many people don’t realize that different types of trees grow at different speeds! And nowadays, Christmas trees come in many different varieties, all with specific desirable traits.
Each variety of tree has very specific growing conditions in which it will thrive; a tree planted in the wrong place will not grow at the optimum rate.
Let’s take a look at the most common types of Christmas trees and find out how long they take to grow!
This tree is most commonly grown in areas with colder winters and cool summers, such as the eastern U.S.
The balsam fir is one of the easiest Christmas trees to grow, as they require little maintenance to keep them looking perfect.
Growth Rate – Slow; 12 inches per year
Includes absolutely everything you need to grow a Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea) from seed: seeds, growing medium, a mini-greenhouse, and detailed instructions
The Douglas fir prefers a milder climate to the Balsam fir and is popular in the northwest U.S.
This variety is particularly good for holding its needles after cutting, avoiding the dreaded needle drop! It is also naturally cone-shaped and needs little maintenance.
Douglas fir is a popular choice for Christmas tree buyers, as it has a deep blue-green color and dense needles. It also has the classic Christmas tree scent that we all adore!
Growth Rate – Medium; 13 to 24 inches per year
The Scotch pine has a deep taproot, making it able to thrive in areas prone to drought. However, it does need regular trimming as it will not normally grow in a natural cone shape.
The best thing about the Scotch pine is that it hangs onto its needles for a long time, even without water.
Growth Rate – Medium; 12 to 24 inches per year
This sapless tree is commonly grown in the southern states of the U.S. The Leyland cypress is a fast-growing variety of Christmas tree, with the young saplings shooting up by 3 to 4 feet per year in the right conditions.
Growth Rate – Fast; over 24 inches per year
Tips for the Best Christmas Tree Variety
These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Christmas tree types – in the U.S alone, there are more than 35 commonly grown types of Christmas trees!
To see what type will grow best in your area and climate it is worth asking around to see what other farmers and homesteaders grow.
Tree saplings can be quite expensive, plus there is a large time commitment when you decide to allocate a piece of land for trees. It is vital that you pick the right variety at the start to give your trees the best possible chance of thriving.
As you can see, many factors affect how long it takes for a Christmas tree to grow!
The most important thing is that you pick the right tree type for your soil type and climate. There is no point expecting a fast-growing Leyland cypress to thrive in a cold climate, and a Balsam fir will not thank you for being planted in a warm area.
Christmas Tree Growth Rate FAQ
If you’re thinking about growing Christmas trees, we’re sure you have plenty of questions! Here is our guide to how fast Christmas trees grow, and everything else you might want to know.
Do you grow your own Christmas trees? What sort of growth rate have you seen? What’s your favorite variety of Christmas tree? Let us know in the comments!
Want to know more about growing Christmas trees, either for yourself or as a commercial Christmas tree farm? Check out this great book below!
Christmas Trees for Pleasure and Profit is for anyone who enjoys being and working outdoors and is seeking a profitable hobby or small business venture.
Robert Wray has updated this fourth edition to include the latest techniques and tools for harvesting trees, new methods of transport, the most recent data on herbicides, and advice on how to run a Christmas-tree business today.