family cutting down Christmas tree
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Wow, That Christmas Tree Going In Your Living Room Is Probably Older Than Your Kid

Unless you want a Charlie Brown tree, you're going to need a lot of patience.

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Bing Crosby is crooning about a white Christmas, and the Hallmark channel has come up with every conceivable plotline ever in order to play holiday flicks 24/7. Tis the season for full throttle decorating, like your home, sugar cookies — and your tree, too. And if you’re trekking to a local farm to get this most sentimental symbol of the holidays, you might want to know how long does it take to grow a Christmas tree? It’s a lot longer than you might think.

What Types Of Christmas Trees Are There?

But if you thought that any ol’ tree could have the title of Christmas tree, think again. Only a few species of trees are meant to have a place of honor in your living room during the holidays, Burton Jaynes, a Christmas tree farmer, owner of Broken Arrow Nursery in Hamden, CT tells Romper. “There are some types of trees that are known to last longer,” says Jaynes. “For example, classic trees like a Fraser fir, Douglas fir, or a Balsam fir make excellent Christmas trees.” Others, like a Norway spruce or a white spruce, won’t hold their needles as long — and there’s nothing worse than a naked tree.

When Should You Buy Your Christmas Tree?

Some people have barely finished Thanksgiving dinner and are armed with hacksaws ready to do some cutting. Others wait until December to decide to get a real live tree. If you decide to get a real Christmas tree, you’re not alone, though. It’s estimated that 25-30 million Christmas trees are sold in the U.S. annually, according to the National Christmas Tree Association. “The first two weekends in December are always busy,” says Jaynes. “But it definitely has shifted, since kids come home from college on Thanksgiving, and families want to cut the tree down together.” Really, it’s up to you when you want to Clark Griswold it and get your tree, but you should definitely factor in the tree’s knack for losing needles into when you plan to purchase it.

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How Long Does It Take To Grow A Christmas Tree?

Your fam has fallen in love with a full, 7-footer that will look gorgeous with your grandparents’ heirloom star on top. But how long did it take to get to that size? Unless you want a Charlie Brown tree, you’re going to have to wait… a long time. While it can vary from location to location, some Christmas tree farms will buy tree seedlings from a specialty nursery that are 2 or 3 years-old. At that point, the seedlings are only about a foot tall, and they’re then planted by Christmas tree growers who will care and prune them until they’re sold. “It takes, on average, 8-12 years for a seedling to grow to the size of a Christmas tree,” says Jaynes, who adds that it can take a while for the seedling’s roots to get established. If you’re ever curious to see how old your tree is, you can always count the rings on the trunk to see its approximate age.

How Should You Care For Your Real Christmas Tree?

Water — lots and lots of water. “You should always keep your tree in water,” says Jaynes. “it should also be away from a direct heat source, such as a stove or fireplace that could cook the tree if it’s nearby it.” If you’ve got a good green thumb (and a lot of patience), you can always grow your own tree from a seedling. After it has grown to a respectable size, you might opt against cutting it and simply string some lights on it and decorate it outdoors. That way, you can celebrate the season with the same tree year after year.

Sure, a live Christmas tree smells sensational, but it’s actually the act of going together as a family to cut down your tree that is the most magical. It’s searching together for the most idyllic tree, laughing together as you try to cut it down, (who knew wielding a hacksack could be so challenging?), and then carrying it back home tied onto the roof of your car that is where the real memories are made.

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