Every year, Americans purchase upwards of 30 million Christmas trees, enveloping their houses with the smell of pine and a surplus of shedding needles. After a few weeks, the tree is taken down and discarded. So how long did it take for the tree to reach Christmas status?
According to Outdoor Happens, the growth rate of a holiday tree depends on its stage and type. On average, the tree in your living room needed roughly four to five years to grow to 5 feet tall, a common height for holiday trees.
The growth isn’t really consistent, though. For a tree to go from seed to sapling and reach 1 foot could take as long as four years. From there, growth can speed up significantly, with some trees growing 4 feet in just 12 months.
If you have vaulted or raised ceilings, you might opt for a more imposing tree that’s 7 to 8 feet tall. That tree probably spent eight to 12 years reaching that height.
Rate of growth also depends on type. Balsam firs tend to grow slowly at just 12 inches annually; a Leyland Cypress can hit 24 inches in the same period of time.
Christmas tree farms do what they can to encourage the kind of big, bushy, cone-shaped trees that people tend to favor. In addition to weeding and controlling pests, they’ll shear trees to promote an appealing shape.
If you don’t want to simply discard a tree after it took so much time getting to you, you can always opt to have it recycled. Most communities offer tree pick-up in which trees are used for mulch or compost or repurposed as natural barriers for soil retention. Just be sure to strip it of all lights and decorations. If not, it’s likely to be diverted to a landfill instead.
[h/t Outdoor Happens]