The Ethical Christmas Tree

Young Christmas trees in a plantation field.

Thoughts on the holidays and going live.

I love the holidays, but man it’s hard on our planet (not to mention turkeys - last year, 3.3 million whole turkeys were purchased over the holidays).

Local farmers count on profits from growing quirky trees that have been responsibly grown and sold, but we could do without the perfectly bred plantation trees, sprayed with carcinogens, harvested by severely underpaid staff, and trucked across a nation only to end up in the local landfill.

I try to reduce the amount of waste and consumption this time of year, but I still love decorating. I am a florist after all! One of the best ways to give back to Mother Nature during the holidays is to go live.

Cedrus deodora in pot.

Living Christmas trees are grown in nursery pots with their roots intact so you can plant the tree after the holidays. Genius right?

They come in all shapes and sizes; traditional fir or spruce, or something a little more wacky like larch, cedar, chamaecyparis or juniper. Some of these beauties may come with ornaments- cones and berries! Any garden centre will have a decent selection of potted coniferous trees this time of year, but be prepared to spend a little more. And don’t worry, it will still be a family affair- sipping hot chocolate (or whiskey…), arguing over what shape is best.

Pinecones, cedar, pine and berries flat lay.

Caring For Your Living Tree

  1. These guys should only be in your home for no longer than 10 days. If you fancy yourself an early decorator, this may be a difficult moment in your life.

  2. Prior to bringing your tree inside, slowly acclimatize it to indoor temperatures by positioning it in a garage, shed, carport or sheltered area close to the house for a few days.

  3. Give it a good soak right before bringing it indoors.

  4. Once in your home, water DAILY. About 1 gallon for larger pots and 1/2 gallon for smaller pots. In the morning dump two trays of ice cubes on the soil to slowly soak in throughout the day.

  5. When you’re ready to move the tree back outdoors, acclimatize it to cooler temperatures by positioning it in a sheltered area for a week. Wait until signs of frost have cleared before planting.

Pine branch with pinecones in snow.

Here are some lovely farms and nurseries to check out in Victoria, B.C:

MacArthur Holly Farm, Saanichton Christmas Tree Farm, Jingle Bell Tree Farm, Gardenworks, Elk Lake Garden Center.