General gardening topics

Growing Christmas trees in pots – planting, general care and bringing them indoors

Last updated on November 10th, 2021

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Firstly, allow me to just say that I have been in the nursery business for over 20 years, so in this guide, I share my experience on how to grow Christmas trees in pots (and it is possible), there are just a few things you need to take into consideration.

Everyone loves Christmas trees, thankfully, there are alternatives to buying and disposing of a freshly cut Christmas tree annually. You can actually grow a Christmas tree indoors over the Christmas period and outdoors for the rest of the year, using a large pot or container but a wooden barrel will also work well. 

How long can you keep a pot grown Christmas tree indoors?

Pot grown christmas tree indoors

Ideally, the less time spent indoors the better. Placing it indoors the week before Christmas is usually best and they should be kept indoors for no longer than around 12 days.

If your tree starts to look like it is suffering after Christmas (such as dropping needles), place it outdoors again straight away. Always keep them in a cool room if possible and try not to place them near to a radiator or fire. This is the worst thing you can do and will also lead to the browning of the needles and wilting.

How long can you grow Christmas trees in pots for?

Real Christmas trees growing on large barrel planters

Real Christmas trees can be grown in pots for a good 3 to 4 years. Usually, they only last a few years in a pot because they are not best suited for growing permanently in pots.

Ideally, you can keep planting them into a new larger pot every year or two, until they get to a point where they are simply too big to maintain in a pot, bring them indoors or move around.

To give you an idea, I always used to find that once they got to around 6ft tall, which is still big for a Christmas grown in a pot, they needed to be planted in the ground.

If you still want to try and grow Christmas trees in large containers, then read my full guide for the best chance of success. I cover the different types of Christmas trees, how to plant them, watering and feeding, pruning to maintain their traditional shape and other hints and tips.

Read next: How long do real Christmas trees last?


Types of Christmas trees

Different types of real christmas trees

The top 5 varieties include:

  1. Norway Spruce – Usually the most affordable, with sharp needles and has the best traditional shape naturally without pruning. When cut, these actually drop their needles quickly but this is not the case with pot grown Christmas trees.
  2. Fraser Fir – A newcomer compared to some of the other types available. These have a tint of blue and are generally much more narrow, making them ideal for tighter spaces and perhaps better suited for pots. If you are planning to plant a tree in the ground in a few years, they also are one of the smaller varieties of Christmas tree. This is something you may need to consider if you have a smaller garden.
  3. Nordman Fir – This type of tree has become very popular in recent years. They have a great shape and soft needles but they can be a little wide at the base compared to most other types of Christmas tree, so they usually need a little more space.
  4. Pine Tree – This traditional Christmas tree often come from Scotland. It can be very wide but they have lots of space between each layer of branches, making it easier to hang Christmas decorations. These are not really suitable for growing in pots and are usually difficult to source in pots.
  5. Blue Spruce – This type has become very popular and may even be the best variety to grow in larger pots as they seem to take to growing in pots rather well. Their sharp blue needles looking amazing and they usually have a good traditional shape without any real pruning needed.

Look out for UK grown Christmas trees and help support British growers

It is always best to get a tree that is locally sourced rather than an imported tree, such as those that come from abroad, these bring with them more potential problems by comparison. 

Where to buy?

One of the best places to buy a pot grown Christmas tree is actually from Amazon and eBay as many Christmas tree nurseries now sell them on these two websites, giving you a good choice to choose from. You can, of course, visit your local nurseries and garden centres but supplies are usually limited as their main focus is usually on the sale of cut Christmas trees.

Nordmann Fir Pot Grown Christmas Tree - Choice of sizes
  • PREMIUM QUALITY, FRESH FROM THE FARM - GardenersDream Christams Trees are British grown and cared for year-round by our expert team
  • REAL LIVING CHRISTMAS TREE - Can be placed outside in the garden after Christmas and can be used repeatedly, eliminating the need to keep buying new trees.
  • NO MESS NEEDLES - Unlike other varieties, Nordmann's are excellent at retaining their foliage, so that means less time cleaning up after them.
  • POT GROWN, EASY TO CARE FOR AND MAINTAIN - With regular watering and occasional feeding, these trees will last a long time. Little pruning is required, just the ocassional trim to keep it's shape
  • CARE GUIDE SUPPLIED WITH EVERY ORDER - Keep your tree in top condition with our free step-by-step care guide. This gives tips on prepping, watering and decorating your tree.
Fraser Fir Pot Grown Christmas Tree - Choice of sizes
  • PREMIUM QUALITY, FRESH FROM THE FARM - GardenersDream Christmas Trees are British grown and cared for year-round by our expert team
  • REAL LIVING CHRISTMAS TREE - Can be placed outside in the garden after Christmas and can be used repeatedly, eliminating the need to keep buying new trees.
  • GREAT SHAPE & FRAGRANCE - The Fraser Fir owes much of it's popularity to it's strong base, thick branches and the citrusy-sweet scent given off by the tree
  • POT GROWN, EASY TO CARE FOR AND MAINTAIN - With regular watering and occasional feeding, these trees will last a long time. Little pruning is required, just the ocassional trim to keep it's shape
  • CARE GUIDE SUPPLIED WITH EVERY ORDER - Keep your tree in top condition with our free step-by-step care guide. This gives tips on prepping, watering and decorating your tree.
Norway Spruce Pot Grown Christmas Tree - Choice of sizes
  • PREMIUM QUALITY, FRESH FROM THE FARM - GardenersDream Christmas Trees are British grown and cared for year-round by our expert team
  • REAL LIVING CHRISTMAS TREE - Can be placed outside in the garden after Christmas and can be used repeatedly, eliminating the need to keep buying new trees.
  • TRADITIONAL LOOK AND FEEL - Blessed with what many consider the classic christmas tree look, the Norway Spruce sports dark green foliage and rigid, slightly prickly needles.
  • POT GROWN, EASY TO CARE FOR AND MAINTAIN - With regular watering and occasional feeding, these trees will last a long time. Little pruning is required, just the ocassional trim to keep it's shape
  • CARE GUIDE SUPPLIED WITH EVERY ORDER - Keep your tree in top condition with our free step-by-step care guide. This gives tips on prepping, watering and decorating your tree.
Blue Spruce Pot Grown Christmas Tree - Choice of sizes
  • PREMIUM QUALITY, FRESH FROM THE FARM - GardenersDream Christmas Trees are British grown and cared for year-round by our expert team
  • REAL LIVING CHRISTMAS TREE - Can be placed outside in the garden after Christmas and can be used repeatedly, eliminating the need to keep buying new trees.
  • COLOUR-CHANGING FOLIAGE WITH YEAR ROUND INTEREST - The gorgeous steely blue foliage is this tree's most striking feature, giving way to a darker green later in the year
  • POT GROWN, EASY TO CARE FOR AND MAINTAIN - With regular watering and occasional feeding, these trees will last a long time. Little pruning is required, just the ocassional trim to keep it's shape
  • CARE GUIDE SUPPLIED WITH EVERY TREE - Keep your tree in top condition with our free step-by-step care guide. This gives tips on prepping, watering and decorating your tree.

How to plant a Christmas tree into a pot?

Choosing a pot

If you are picking any of these Christmas trees (listed above) when young, you can plant them successfully in a pot. They will grow a significant amount every year, so you should choose a pot that is large enough for the growth coming your way and try and choose a wide pot that ensures it is more stable.

You can usually get pot grown Christmas trees that are around 3-4ft tall, not including the pot. Always choose a new pot that is a little bigger than the pot it is already planted in.

I recommend planting it up every year into a slightly larger pot until it’s around 6ft tall.

At this point, it may be best to plant it into the ground or use it one final time and invest in a new tree the following year.

If you don’t have room to plant it in the ground consider asking a nursery to swap your tree for a smaller, younger tree

If you have a healthy large Christmas tree in a pot, a nursery or garden centre might consider swapping it for a smaller tree for you because they can usually sell the larger tree and you are able to take home a smaller tree, so it’s often a win-win.

Always choose a pot grown tree (NOT a potted tree)

Different types of real christmas trees

When you get a tree from a nursery or garden centre, you can find potted trees or pot grown trees. The pot grown trees should be perfect for the job if you intend to keep the tree in a pot. 

Never buy a potted tree as this means it has been grown in the ground and then dug up and planted into a container to sell. These often have much less root, have been disturbed and often don’t survive. Supermarkets often sell cheap trees in pots, these are often potted trees and not suitable for growing in pots every year.

As previously mentioned, these nearly always die as they have had too much of their root removed. Pot grown trees have all their roots intact and will nearly always survive if cared for correctly. The label on the tree will often say whether it has been pot grown if this is the case, so we recommend that you double-check before purchasing.

How to care for potted Christmas trees

Display in a cool room away from any fires or radiators

Firstly, you should display the tree in a cooler room to reduce the stress on it. Most people think of the quintessential decorated tree next to a roasting fire but that will not only deplete moisture and result in needle dropping, but it can also result in fires.

Display for no longer than 12 days (less if you can) in a cool room or display outdoors

These trees should be grown outside in their pots and can be decorated outside directly or brought indoors for Christmas. If you are bringing it indoors just for the holiday before returning it outside, the container should be brought indoors as late as possible, perhaps the week before Christmas.

Do not keep the tree indoors for more than 12 days. If at any point before the 12 days is up it seems to be unhappy, changing its colour or stature, put it back outside.

Repotting a Christmas tree 

If the tree is getting too big for its container and you need to re-pot it, you should go up one size bigger. Water it beforehand so that the roots are looser and tease them out to remove any of the old compost that is stuck in between.

When you repot, do so with John Innes potting compost as this is soil-based, so it will hold the moisture better and is heavier to help keep the tree upright. It also ensures the tree gets nutrients to stay healthy. Once repotted, water well.

If you are going to plant your Christmas tree into the ground, check out my guide on how to plant a Christmas tree here.

How to move a Christmas tree outside after Christmas

After Christmas, you can move your tree outside and either plant it in the ground so that you have a tree to decorate outside next year or keep it in the pot being careful to repot as described above when growth demands. 

Usually, the pots they come in are a little small, probably to help with transportation from Christmas trees farms to local garden centres. With this in mind, you usually need to pot the tree up after Christmas in the first year.

If you move it outside after Christmas, it’s usually best to give it a few weeks in a cold garage or greenhouse to acclimatise to the colder outdoor weather. 

*Tip*

If you know ahead of time that you are going to move your tree outside after Christmas, it might be easier for you to dig the hole whilst the weather (and ground) remains warm. This will make it easier than trying to dig the frozen or nearly frozen ground and the excess soil from the hole will thaw much faster on milder days. 

Once you are ready, have a hole that is slightly larger than the root ball. Water the plant thoroughly to help loosen up the roots and allow for easy removal from the pot. Place the tree in the hole and fill in the remaining area with soil. Water it thoroughly. 

Watering and feeding

The tree should be kept cool and well-watered. So if you notice the soil drying out, add water. If it is particularly warm, water more often. Add fertiliser throughout the spring to ensure the tree gets the nutrients necessary to remain hardy and strong for winter. Christmas trees grown in pots will need watering regularly, especially over summer and during warm dry spells sometimes every day. This applies to both indoors and outdoors.

Taking cutting from Christmas trees

If you want to propagate from a successful tree, you can take semi-ripe or hardwood cuttings or even grow them from seed, and then grow them on in containers as well, following the same general care.

In general, it is not usually worth the time to grow them from cuttings for most people, as they take many many years to reach a good size. However, if you are interested in having a little fun it can be worth trying, especially if you are into gardening.

Pruning pot grown Christmas trees

Pruning the Christmas tree is an easy process and depending on the type of Christmas trees you have purchased. You can prune these hardy trees whenever you see a dead or dying branch.

You can also prune away any new growth that takes away from the general shape of a traditional Christmas tree. This is usually the main reason for doing a little pruning.

Regularly pruning in this fashion, throughout the year, will ensure your tree is ready for winter and the festive season and has the perfect shape.

Image credits – Shutterstock.com


Last update on 2022-01-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at john@pyracantha.co.uk

1 Comment

  1. Can anyone please advise me what is the best soil /compost to use when growing Fraser Fir in pots?

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