It’s a sure sign that the festivities are coming when people begin considering whether to buy a tree, but do you know how many years it takes to grow a Christmas tree?
While many of us will start to put up Christmas decorations in November, or in early December for 51% of people, according to Christmas Tree World, who say that putting up their Christmas tree is the beginning of the Christmas season for them and their family.
There’s no doubt that Christmas trees are a festive staple for most homes in the UK and with nearly 8 million real Christmas trees being bought every year, how long does it take to grow them so there’s enough to meet the demand every December?
This Quest TV clip illustrates the process of growing the perfect Christmas tree – from planting it and all the way to decorating it for Christmas!
How long does it take for a Christmas tree to grow?
A lot depends on the type of Christmas tree and other criteria, but it can take between 10 and 12 years for a typical Christmas tree that is between six and eight feet high to grow.
When it comes to Christmas trees, the ones we buy tend to be reasonably quick growers, but it takes on average 10 years to grow one from a seed to a size large enough for cutting.
Obviously, the taller the Christmas tree, the longer it’s had to grow.
And since there’s a trend to buy Christmas trees in pots, these trees tend to be younger but the process to grow them is the same.
At the plantations where trees are grown, producers will harvest seeds from popular firs and once planted, they can take up to four years to reach a height of just 25 cm.
From this point, the saplings are then planted in open fields and left to grow until they are harvested.
However, as Christmas trees grow in a plantation, they are not left to fend for themselves – a lot of care is needed to deliver a quality, well-shaped tree.
Christmas tree farmers will:
- Trim the Christmas tree regularly to maintain the classic shape
- Trim back lower branches to give lots of trunk room so it can be placed in a pot or stand
- Inspect the trees in the summer and label them as being suitable for harvesting.
Other factors that affect how long it takes to grow a Christmas tree include the type of soil, the climate and the nutrition the tree receives.
Tom Onslow-Cole, the co-founder of Croft & Cole, the UK’s leading online luxury Christmas tree retailer, said: “We hand-select the finest trees from plantations across the UK and retail online. We deliver each tree in a mess-free, recyclable box.”
The firm sells Nordmann firs because they have rounded needles that are safe for pets and children – and they tend to enjoy better needle retention. They also have a traditional shape and soft festive fragrance.
He added: “A Nordmann fir is classed as a slow-growing tree. For each foot of tree, the grower has cared for it for just over a year. A typical 6ft tree will take from six to eight years to grow, depending on where the plantation is in the country. The Scottish trees are slower growing due to the reduced hours of sunlight but are therefore often fuller and thicker.”
Peter Hyde of Trinity Street Christmas Trees underlined the process to grow a tree.
He said: “It takes a Nordmann fir between 7-10 years for high quality shape for a 6-7 ft tree.
“That is seven plus years of annual pruning, leader control, aphid control, weed control – it is massively labour-intensive to grow high quality trees which is why a premium grade but there are lots of second grade trees around as a result.”
The Christmas.co.uk team enjoyed this video from Spencer’s Nursery about ‘How To Grow A Christmas Tree From Seed’. This really does show how much work goes into growing your real Christmas tree!
Most popular type of Christmas tree
The most popular type of Christmas tree bought in the UK, according to the British Christmas Tree Growers Association (BCTGA), is the Nordmann fir.
Indeed, the BCTGA say that around 80% of the Christmas trees we buy every year in the UK are Nordmann firs.
They are popular because they have a deep green colour that looks healthy, and they are renowned for not losing many needles in the run-up to Christmas Day.
However, the Nordmann fir, like every other real Christmas tree, needs to be cared for correctly.
If you do take good care of your Christmas tree, it should look healthy until early January.
The BCTGA recommends:
- When the tree is brought home, take half an inch off the trunk to open up the pores of the tree * See our top tip below
- Keep the tree outside in a cool shaded place, standing in water, until it is required indoors
- When brought indoors, mount the tree in a water-holding stand and place it away from direct heat, such as a radiator
- Keep the tree’s container topped up with water every day.
Christmas Tree Top Tip: Here at Christmas.co.uk we recommend that you ask the supplier to take the bottom of the trunk off for you. It will be easier for you and help highlight whether you are enjoying a quality, premium service – or not.
Ollie Simpkins of Warwickshire Christmas Trees told us: “The time it takes to grow a tree depends on the type of tree, the soil conditions, weather and so on.
“The average across the board is roughly 9-12 inches of growth per year.”
He added: “Nordmann firs tend to be slightly slower at 6-9 inches per year, whereas Norway Spruce and Douglas Fir would usually put on 12-15 inches per year.
“This means that your average 6ft Christmas tree would take circa eight years from planting as a sapling, add another three years to take it from seed to sapling. All told, it would take 11 years on average for a standard 6ft Christmas tree.”
Ollie says that Warwickshire Christmas Trees has 32,000 trees planted and they sell straight from the field and customers can come and choose their tree whilst it is still growing.