Living Christmas trees are a wonderful way to celebrate the holiday season. Unlike fresh-cut trees, living Christmas trees are conifers that come potted with their roots still attached.
If kept outside in containers throughout the year, living Christmas trees can be reused indoors for the holidays year after year. Living Christmas trees can also be planted into your landscape after the holiday season is over, where they’ll grow and provide lasting structure and habitat for wildlife.
Not only are living Christmas trees sustainable in the short term, the range of varieties available make them a special addition to your holiday décor while providing long-term benefits to your landscape. They do require some special care, but living Christmas trees are well worth the effort.
Selecting a Living Christmas Tree
Living Christmas trees allow you to get creative and embrace the natural forms of conifers, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice a picture-perfect holiday aesthetic. Whether you choose to feature a rich green, conical tree, or explore more unique colors and textures, our Garden Centers are well stocked with a range of sizes and styles to choose from this holiday season.
If you plan to plant your living Christmas tree in the landscape after the holidays, keep in mind its mature size, as some varieties can grow to be quite large. Here are some of our favorite living Christmas tree selections for 2022.
Classic Conifers for Living Christmas Trees
- Grand Fir (Abies grandis) – True green needles lie flat on evenly spaced branches, forming a dense cone; one of the best fragrances of any evergreen tree; 75’H by 30’W at maturity
- Noble Fir (Abies procera) – This holiday favorite has upright, blue-green needles and a beautiful layered habit; perfect for supporting heavier ornaments; 150’H by 20’W at maturity
- Turkish Fir (Abies bornmuelleriana) – A classic fir tree with upright needles that are emerald green on one side and silvery grey on the back side; branches are sturdy and layered to form a conical shape; fast growing to 50’H by 15’W at maturity
- Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) – Familiar to any Pacific Northwesterner, the iconic Douglas Fir tree makes a charming living Christmas tree with its soft, deep green needles and quintessential shape; 200’H by 10’W at maturity
- Serbian Spruce (Picea omorika) – Thin branches arch gracefully upward to form an elegant, upright tree; needles have a blue-green hue and are spaced evenly around each branch; 50’H by 25’W at maturity
Unique Conifers for Living Christmas Trees
- Silberlocke Korean Fir (Abies koreana) – Dramatic two-tone needles are rich blue-green on one side and stark white on the underside; upright cones are indigo when new and age to brown; 25’H by 15’W at maturity
- Skylands Caucasian Spruce (Picea orientalis) – Tightly held chartreuse needles give this slow-growing, shade-tolerant Spruce a dramatic look indoors or planted out in the landscape; 15’H by 5’ W at maturity
- Green Tower Austrian Pine (Pinus nigra) – This columnar Pine has a grass-green, fuzzy texture and upright shape; a fun addition to small corners in homes that might also use a more traditional, fresh-cut tree; 8’H by 1.5’W at maturity
Silberlocke Korean Fir
Skylands Caucasian Spruce
Caring for a Living Christmas Tree
Are there any special rules to following when bringing my living Christmas tree inside?
Before bringing the tree in to its featured spot in your home, plan ahead and make a few key moves to ease the transition from outside to inside and help reduce stress on the plant.
- Spray your tree with an anti-transpirant like Wilt Pruf or Wilt Stop before bringing inside and allow to dry completely.
- Move your tree to a garage or colder room in your home for a few days to help acclimate it to warmer temperatures and lower light levels.
- Place your tree in a well-lit part of the house, and keep the curtains open during the day.
- Avoid placing the tree close to a fireplace or heating vent.
How long can I keep my living Christmas tree indoors?
Keep your tree inside for no more than 7 to 10 days at a time, especially if your home is kept very warm. Consider a hybrid approach by displaying your living tree on a porch or balcony and decorating it with weather-proof ornaments and lights!
How should I water my living Christmas tree?
Living Christmas trees need to stay moist to avoid needles drying out and dropping.
- Water thoroughly to keep roots moist—never allow your tree to sit in standing water.
- For easy watering, place a tray of ice cubes on top of the soil every other day or more often for larger trees.
- Be sure to allow for room for drainage and use a tray for excess water. Additional surface protection may be necessary for wood floors and furniture.
How do I decorate my living Christmas tree?
Just like fresh-cut or synthetic Christmas trees, decorations provide the perfect opportunity to express yourself and lean into the holiday spirit. However, a few special considerations should be made when decorating a living tree.
- LED lights are recommended over incandescent bulbs since they are cool-burning and won’t dry out the foliage.
- Place the plastic grower’s pot into a decorative container or wrap it with paper or burlap to disguise it, and place a tray below to collect any water.
- Lightweight ornaments are best to use so they don’t bend or break the branches.
- Consider adding natural elements like berries, or decorating with bows and garland alongside classic ornaments.
What should I do with my tree after Christmas?
After its time inside, remove all decorations and take the tree outdoors to hose off the whole plant with a fine mist spray to humidify the branches. If the temperature is below freezing, take the tree back into a cool room or garage for a few days before moving it outside permanently.
If the ground is not frozen solid and the weather is favorable for planting, plant your tree! If you prefer to wait until spring to plant your tree, be sure to keep it well watered through winter.