How Fast Do Christmas Trees Grow?
They don’t reach 12 feet overnight, that’s for sure.
In the U.S. each year, there are millions of Christmas trees sold, situated in stands, decorated for the holidays, and enjoyed all season long. It goes without saying: Growing these trees is serious business. One of the top Christmas tree-producing states in the country is North Carolina, a state responsible for an enormous number of Fraser fir trees—Grumpy’s pick for best Christmas tree—each year. With all those trees, we can’t help but wonder: How long does it take a Christmas tree to grow?
Throughout the country and across the world, there are many different types of trees decorated for Christmas, so there’s no single answer to that question. Popular trees used for the holidays include fir, pine, spruce, cypress, and cedar. Of those, Fraser fir (Abies fraseri), Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), and Leyland cypress (Cupressocyparis x leylandii) are favorites of the Southern states. Each species has its own distinct soil and water needs, and some grow more quickly than others. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, “It can take as many as 15 years to grow a tree of typical height (6-7 feet) or as little as 4 years, but the average growing time is 7 years.” Read on for a roundup of Christmas trees that grow in the South, listed by typical growing speeds from fast to slow.
Fast-Growing Christmas Trees
Leyland cypress: The sapless Leyland cypress (Cupressocyparis x leylandii) is a very popular Christmas tree in the American South. In the right environment, Leyland cypress grows quickly, often 3 to 4 feet per year for young trees.
Arizona cypress: Arizona cypress (Cupressus arizonica) can be found growing in Arizona and west Texas, and it it also amenable to growing in southeastern states including Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, parts of the Florida panhandle, Tennessee, and in North and South Carolina.
Average-Growing Christmas Trees
Fraser fir: The Southern-favorite Fraser fir (Abies fraseri) tree has an average growth period of about 7 years. Fraser fir grows throughout the southern Appalachian region in North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, in North Carolina, the Fraser fir “requires from 7 to 10 years in the field to produce a 6-7 feet tree.”
Canaan fir: Canaan fir (Abies balsamea var. phanerolepies), which is similar to Fraser and balsam firs, is found in Virginia and West Virginia. It grows at a relatively average rate of 2-3 feet per year.
Slow-Growing Christmas Trees
Eastern redcedar: Despite its name, the Eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana) is a juniper rather than a cedar, and it grows at a slow to medium rate. When planted, it can be expected to grow at a rate of 1-2 feet per year. Eastern redcedar can be found in Texas and Oklahoma as well as areas beyond the South.
Virginia pine: According to the University of Kentucky Department of Horticulture, the growth rate of Virginia pine (Pinus virginiana) is slow, but in the right conditions, the species can reach heights of 40 feet tall and 30 feet wide. It’s found in Virginia and Kentucky, and its growing range reaches South to Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama.
WATCH: Join the Grumpy Gardener as He Shops for the Perfect Christmas Tree
Other Christmas trees grown outside the South but often shipped nationwide include Douglas fir, which grows to full size in 7 to 10 years; Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens); balsam fir (Abies balsamea); white spruce (Picea glauca); and white pine (Pinus strobus).
Will you be visiting a Christmas tree farm this season? What’s your favorite type of Christmas tree to decorate for the holidays?