41203thumbChristmas trees are like vegetables. Really, they are like big vegetables that do not get eaten. They are grown on farms, and then harvested and sent off to consumers. Although they smell like a forest, and they are descendents of trees that naturally grow in the wild somewhere, there is nothing natural about their cultivation. In fact, most are grown a very long way from where their kind are from. Therefore, bringing a cut Christmas tree into the home takes nothing from the wild, and does not interfere with nature any more than eating vegetables does.

Firs, particularly Douglas fir, are the most popular of Christmas trees. Pines are probably the second most popular. Redwoods, spruces, cedars, cypresses or even Junipers can also work. They each have their own distinct color, texture and aroma. Healthy and well hydrated trees that continue to get watered as needed should have no problem lasting through Christmas. Ultimately though, cut Christmas trees are not good for much after Christmas, and eventually get composted or otherwise disposed of.

Living Christmas trees might seem like a better option to cut Christmas trees because they dispel any unfounded guilt associated with cut Christmas trees, and initially seem to be less disposable. The problem is that they have problems of their own. Simply purchasing one is a big expense. Even the big ones are smaller than cut trees, but much heavier and unwieldy. Contrary to popular belief, only a few types that grow slowly, such as some spruce, can actually live in a tub for more than one or two years, and even they can be finicky.

The main problem is where to plant a living Christmas tree when it outgrows its container. Conifers innately do not like to be confined for too long. Yet, in the ground, most grow into substantial trees. The common little Christmas trees that are already decorated are actually the worst since they are juvenile Italian stone pines or Canary Island pines, which grow big and fast. Potted trees can not be planted out in the wild because their confined roots need to be watered until new roots can disperse. Even if they could survive, non-native trees should not go into natural ecosystems.

7 thoughts on “Christmas Trees – Dead Or Alive

  1. I applaud you for trying to explain about cut Christmas trees. We just had this discussion at work where I tried to explain why a balled and burlaped tree was not appropriate. Particularly here (since we already have a foot of snow on the ground and no one has dug the appropriate hole for the tree to heel it in later–once it’s re–acclimitized) it’s just difficult to make those work.

    In fact I tried to go get my cut tree yesterday but couldn’t. The yards and trees were still snowed in. Oopsie.


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    1. Neighbors used to bring me their live Christmas trees with the expectation that I would simple plant them out in a forest somewhere. It was frustrating because I hate to dispose of a live tree.


  2. Growing up in a Jewish home, we did not have Christmas trees. I did not experience them until my wife and I started living together. However, most years we are out of town for Christmas and so we don’t buy them these days. My favorite Christmas tree is actually a white pine because of the soft needles. They do make a mess, though.

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    1. Christmas trees are regional. I do not believe I have ever seen a white pine as a Christmas tree. Nor have I ever seen a balsam fir, Fraser fir or Eastern red cedar. Eastern red cedar seems like an odd choice to me, but some people really like it. There are two potted here. I might shear one into a Christmas tree to see what the hype is about. People in Arizona like the Arizona cypress as a Christmas tree. That also seems odd to me, but must make sense to those in Arizona. When I was a kid, one of the two main Christmas parties in Montara were at one of only a few Jewish households. I dislike most of the traditions of Christmas, but found that they were more tolerable that way. Jewish people seem to do traditions properly.

      Liked by 1 person

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