How Fast Do Christmas Trees Grow?

We love seeing Christmas trees growing sky-high.

Christmas Tree Farm
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Millions of Christmas trees are sold in the U.S. annually to situate in stands, decorate for the holidays, and enjoy all season long. 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 each year. With all those trees, we can't help but wonder: How long does it take a Christmas tree to grow? Read on for a roundup of Christmas trees that grow in the South, listed by typical growing speeds from fast to slow.

Average Christmas Tree Growing Time

Throughout the country and worldwide, people decorate many different types of trees 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 (Cuprocyparis leylandii) are favorites of the Southern states. Each species has distinct soil and water needs, making 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 (six to seven feet) or as little as four years, but the average growing time is seven years."

Fast-Growing Christmas Trees

Leyland Cypress

The sapless Leyland cypress (Cuprocyparis leylandii or ) is a popular Christmas tree in the American South. In the right environment, Leyland cypress grows quickly, often up to three feet per year for young trees.

Arizona Cypress

Arizona cypress (Hesperocyparis arizonica) grows in Arizona and west Texas. It is also amenable to growing in southeastern states, including Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, parts of the Florida panhandle, and North Carolina.

Christmas Tree Farm
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Average-Growing Christmas Trees

Fraser Fir

The Southern-favorite Fraser fir (Abies fraseri) tree has an average growth period of about seven 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 seven to 10 years in the field to produce a six to seven feet tree."

Canaan Fir

Canaan fir (Abies balsamea var. phanerolepies), similar to Fraser and balsam firs, is found in Virginia and West Virginia. It grows at a relatively average rate of two to three 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 grows at a slow to medium rate. The growth rate is around one to two feet per year when planted. The Eastern redcedar grows in areas beyond the South. Primarily it grows in Texas and Oklahoma.

Virginia Pine

According to the University of Kentucky Department of Horticulture, the growth rate of Virginia pine (Pinus virginiana) is slow. Still, the species can reach heights 40 feet tall and 30 feet wide in the right conditions. Found in Virginia and Kentucky, its growing range extends South to Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama.

Additional Christmas Trees

Other Christmas trees grown outside the South are often shipped nationwide, including the Douglas fir. It grows to full size in seven to 10 years. Also, the Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens), balsam fir (Abies balsamea), white spruce (Picea glauca), and white pine (Pinus strobus) are varieties of popular Christmas trees.

Will you be visiting a Christmas tree farm this season? What's your favorite type of Christmas tree to decorate for the holidays?

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  2. National Christmas Tree Association. Quick tree facts.

  3. Missouri Botanical Garden. × Cuprocyparis leylandii.

  4. U.S. Department of Agriculture Plants Database. Hesperocyparis arizonica.

  5. Dale AG, Birdsell T, Sidebottom J. Evaluating the invasive potential of an exotic scale insect associated with annual Christmas tree harvest and distribution in the southeastern US. Trees, Forests and People. 2020;2:100013. doi:10.1016/j.tfp.2020.100013

  6. National Christmas Tree Association. Fraser fir.

  7. U.S. Department of Agriculture Plants Database. Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.

  8. U.S. Department of Agriculture Plants Database. Juniperus virginiana L.

  9. University of Kentucky Department of Horticulture. Virginia pine.

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