How to grow a Christmas tree and keep it for next year

A small planted Christmas tree sitting in a living room in front of a fully grown Christmas tree, surrounded by presents
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Keen to know how to grow a Christmas tree? Once you know what you’re doing, it’s easier than you’d think and could save you from buying a new one every year. A natural tree is a stunning sight on Christmas Day — so it seems a shame for it to end up on the curb on the twelfth night. 

Christmas trees can be planted in your backyard; you can even keep it illuminated from there if you’ve got one of the best outdoor smart plugs. Then, once the year is up, you can move it back indoors again for the holidays. Real Christmas trees are arguably more sustainable than fake ones too, especially if you get into the habit of reusing them. Here’s how to grow a Christmas tree. 

How to grow a Christmas tree  

1. First of all, if you’re buying a new Christmas tree which you want to reuse, make sure it’s potted with a root ball. Cut trees will no longer have the roots and will effectively be dead.

2. When choosing your potted tree, opt for container-grown, rather than containerized. The difference between the two is that container-grown trees will have been grown in the container, while containerized will have been dug up, and placed in a container for sale. Container-grown trees have a better survival rate and will be stronger and healthier, as it’s not been displaced so much. These will also be easier to remove from the pot without damaging the roots. 

A Christmas tree removed from its pot

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

3. Potted trees may be smaller than cut (usually about 3-5 feet), but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you want to keep growing it and use it again next year. Bear in mind that if you successfully plant it, it will keep growing

4. Living trees should also be kept indoors for as short a time as possible. Ideally, you want to bring it in on the weekend before Christmas, and you don’t want to keep it in for any longer than 10 days, before moving it outside again. Although, this will depend on the size and strength of your tree — if you notice it’s struggling, move it outside. You can acclimatize your tree when moving it from outside to in and vice versa using your garage or basement if you live in extreme weather conditions. 

5. Check the soil in the pot daily to make sure it’s not drying out. The container should also have good drainage; you can place a saucer underneath to catch the excess. You also don’t want to place your tree too close to a heat source, such as a fireplace or radiator, as this can dry it out. You can spritz the branches with water to help keep it moist — although don’t do this once the lights are up! 

A Christmas tree being spritzed with water

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6. When it comes to planting the tree in your backyard after Christmas, you have a couple of options: 

  • You can remove it from the pot and plant it straight into the soil. If you choose to do this, do so on a day when the soil isn’t frozen, and make sure the root ball is buried at the same depth as it is in the pot. Be sure to stake it until it’s established and water it regularly.

    This method will give it a good chance for survival, but the roots will likely flourish and spread to the point that it will be difficult to dig up next year without damaging them — which means you won’t be able to plant it again. This won’t limit the growth of your tree either, so it could be difficult to move by next Christmas.  
  • You can alternatively move your tree to a bigger container, which gives the tree room to grow, while limiting the spreading of the roots. This is the best option if you plan to bring it in again next year, but does mean it will need more attention in terms of watering and care. 

A Christmas tree planted outside in the snow and decorated with string lights

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

7. When deciding where to place your tree outside, find a spot which is sheltered and out of direct sunlight in the summer. 

8. Keep an eye on your tree throughout the year, watering it when needed and pruning away any dead branches and to make sure it retains the shape you want. The good news is these trees are fairly hardy once established, and won’t need much maintenance. 

9. When Christmas comes around again, you can simply repeat the process with your recycled tree. Either bring the pot indoors, or carefully dig up your tree to pot it and bring it in. 

You should be able to reuse a tree for at least another Christmas depending on its size. If it becomes too big to move, remember you can always decorate it in the garden using some of the best solar lights.   

Next: This TikTok Christmas tree lighting hack is a game-changer — here’s why.

Katie Mortram
Homes Editor

Katie looks after everything homes-related, from kitchen appliances to gardening tools. She also covers smart home products too, so is the best point of contact for any household advice! She has tested and reviewed appliances for over 6 years, so she knows what to look for when finding the best. Her favorite thing to test has to be air purifiers, as the information provided and the difference between performances is extensive.