Ever Wonder How Long a Cut Christmas Tree Lasts?


May 2, 2013

Here we are at the beginning of May and my Christmas tree that was cut December 15, 2012 is still alive. The needles are green and resistant to pulling them out.

The tree stood all winter in my back yard after being put outside January 1, 2013. Inside it lived in the living room eight feet from the fireplace blazing almost daily. I do not recommend this by the way. Rarely will a tree stay fresh in the heat of a home.

The tree was sent outside for the birds and my backyard photo studio.


Cut tree in the backyard.

It has gone through days in the seventies and eighties this year, but also weathered days below zero.


Tree as a backdrop for photos.

Many photos were taken of it in snow, rain and blistering sun.


Many birds overwintered in it. It blew down a couple of times in 50 mph winds. The photo below was after I set it back up. See how flattened it looks?


Tree sheltering wintering birds.

In previous winters, I worked at my friend’s Christmas tree farm and saw many trees cut and off to new homes. Fraser Fir is known for lasting the Christmas season. My tree is a Concolor Fir and I raised it in my front yard from the time it was three feet tall in 2003.

It grew to a strapping eleven feet and knowing the height and girth these trees get when mature, I always knew it would have to be removed at some point.


Tree in 2007 happily in the garden.

I kept cutting it back each fall to keep it small and live longer in the garden. I called it my Concolor shrub. Last year it got a robin family and I was so happy for it and the robins.


Tree with a robin family in 2012.

See the robin flying to the tree above, beak full of nesting material?


I will miss it and always thought a new tree would replace it to also become a Christmas tree.


Tree as a Christmas tree in 2012.

It was hard cutting it down, like an old friend leaving, so no new conifer will be grown.


Fresh looking needles in MAY 2013!

But oddly, this tree has not dropped needles. I was planning on using the needles to mulch the garden, but it does not look like that will happen for a while yet. I guess I can have Christmas in July the way the tree is hanging on. It has not had water since it was inside either, so I have no idea why it remains green and fresh. The photo below was taken yesterday. It really makes one wonder how long a cut tree will last.


May 8, 2013 on the patio.

Up next, Garden Glimpses – The Week in Dozens.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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64 Responses to Ever Wonder How Long a Cut Christmas Tree Lasts?

  1. alesiablogs says:

    This is so cool. I was just looking at our old Christmas tree in our back yard thinking when is my husband gonna do something with it? haha But it was still real green!!!!

    • The reason the trees retain the color longer outside, is that the cut end is sealed with resin. Any moisture in the tree is sealed in until the weather heats up and it transpires out. Since my tree was outside, it absorbed the moisture from the air and the precipitation raining/snowing down. With the sunny 80° day, I thought it would be toast.

  2. That tree is almost a family member at this point; maybe a name is in order.

  3. Victor Ho says:

    That’s an impressive long lasting tree. I would frequently drop in on my brother about this time and the last needles had just touched his living room floor. His tree stayed indoors and obviously didn’t last.

  4. Laurrie says:

    I kept waiting for you to reveal that you had somehow replanted this tree in the yard, or it had rooted from the cut stem or something! No explaining why your concolor fir is lasting, while every Christmas tree I ever put up in the house dropped its needles within days. It certainly was a beautiful tree in your yard when it grew — and an interesting one now as an artifact!

    • I always had the intention of it being dug and replanted, but my friend from the farm never got the time to have the guys dig and remove. I kept it shapely so it could move on to a client’s property. My friend finds it easier to just dig at the farm with the tree digger equipment. I have shown them doing this in a post a while back.

  5. I never would have guessed! What a gift. Margie

  6. What a cute post about your old friend the concolor. The photo with all the birds sitting in it is adorable.

  7. I followed your lead and set my Christmas tree on the front porch near my new bird feeder. We put it out last week for the town to compost. It was fairly green, though not as green as yours, and was beginning to drop needles.

  8. Pat says:

    Your old friend does not want to leave you!

  9. HolleyGarden says:

    It just doesn’t want to leave! And it made a beautiful Christmas tree. But that photo of the birds trying to find shelter is amazing – I’ve never seen so many birds on one tree!

  10. lucindalines says:

    So amazing, so beautiful. I love how you take care of even those annoying sparrows.

  11. So many Christmas trees are dropping needles even before they are set up in a house, and yours is still green and supple so many months later. Perhaps it’s the variety, or (my opinion) the care it received in your yard before you cut it and brought it in.

    That photo with all the sparrows is so cool!

    • I think it just was absorbing water from the air and rain/snow that fell. Most of the winter, it was pretty frozen too. Now, I am not sure what is going on since we haven’t had rain.

  12. Debra says:

    Takes nurse trees to a whole new level: introducing the zombie tree … (just kidding) Maybe living next to the Narnia light filled it with magic.

  13. Bill S says:

    The tree with the sparrows in is just magic, do they light up at Christmas ?

  14. This is one stubborn tree. I love the photo of the robin poking out of it with a meal in its beak.

  15. These are gorgeous photos – the one of sparrows in the tree made me smile. There were a lot of bird baubles for sale in the run-up to last Christmas – we could save ourselves a fortune if we could get a flock of the real things to sit still for a week or two!

    If all Christmas trees were as tenacious as yours, the growers would all be out of business within a year. Well done – how much longer will it last, do you think?

    • They gave my Juniper a reprieve. Every winter, they do a lot of damage to that tree. It has many large openings in it. I think it will be gone soon as the weather warms, but this weekend we will be back to almost freezing temperatures. That will give it a little more time.

  16. Awwww, I actually got a little teary reading this post (I guess I am a tree-hugger). 😉 We did the same thing with our Chrstmas tree out in the backyard in January. But I didn’t secure it enough, and in one of our windstorms it blew over and broke a branch on my Flowering Almond shrub. My own fault. In any case, the Christmas tree spent the rest of the winter on its side. I hope it harbored a few of our feathered friends–especially the juncos, who were out nibbling on seeds even when the daytime temps were around -20! Great post, Donna.

    • In the next post, I have a photo of my Japanese Maple. I had to stake it because the Concolor fell over and flattened it. It did break two branches, but the main trunk just bent and did not break. I was sick when I saw it under the Concolor. That is how the Concolor made its way to the patio. It was not as good a location for my photos, but it was not going to take out any plants from there.

  17. Christy says:

    I know this sounds odd, but I would have a very hard time getting rid of that tree. Poor little thing wants to hang around!

    • It was never supposed to be cut by me, but my friend never came and dug it out to resell as a landscape tree. It was always destined to be a Christmas tree originally though. It came from the cutting field, so I gave it a much longer life than it would have had, 10 years above what it already lived. I really was very sad to cut it, but it had to leave the tiny garden. The tree had many uses and if if drops needles soon, it will provide another use.

  18. What a story about your tree. It is beautiful by the way. Obviously, it is being enjoyed by the birds very well. Maybe it has lasted so long because it was so healthy. Eventually, you’ll complete the cycle. Great idea to enjoy it as much as possible.

  19. Graziella says:

    Nice story and pictures, maybe it too doesn’t want to leave the garden just yet. I wouldn’t blame it with all the lovely birds it homed over the years. I guess enjoy it while it lasts 🙂

  20. Layanee says:

    It just doesn’t want to leave.

  21. catmint says:

    I like to think it as a magic tree that survives because it is needed by the birds. I adore the photo of the sparrows in the tree.

  22. A.M.B. says:

    Christmas in July would be lovely! The tree is still so beautiful–that’s amazing after so many months. I love the picture of all the house sparrows.

  23. mazza18467 says:

    that’s value for your money. I couldn’t get rid of it, after a story like that especially when it was doing so well. And after having sheltered so many birds.
    a farewell prayer is in it’s place

  24. Melissa says:

    Growing up we always watered out tree with warm water and maple sirup. They always lasted from thanksgiving till new years, when mom would decide we needed the space back. We always got a 13 foot tree to reach into the ceiling. It took us all weekend to decorate it, and to take it down. Now with all us kids gone she uses a cute little fake tree. But I miss those huge ones.

  25. Jennifer says:

    I love the shot with all the birds huddled in the branches. It makes the point perfectly that an evergreen offers winter shelter to birds. I know most Christmas trees are cut well before Christmas. It makes sense to me that a fresh tree would last for months. A trees will to live on is quite an amazing thing.

    • I know I took quite a few images with the sparrows all over the tree. It does make the point. I even have photos of them inside just barely visible too. I could never get the cardinals to show though. They would hang out near the bottom of the tree. I always feared for them with all the neighborhood cats.

  26. Marguerite says:

    You know it’s a funny thing, I’ve seen a lot of Christmas trees lately. Our spring compost clean up is due to happen in the next week and I guess people who didn’t bother getting their trees picked up after Christmas are just putting them out now. Amazing to see they are all still green. rather funny phenomena

  27. I am beginning to think you have embalmed this tree Donna. Love the shot with so many sparrows.

  28. Yep, some trees just dont want to die lol. We have some friends of ours who have had the same tree for 8 years, yes EIGHT years !!! Every year after xmas it looks pretty finished so they throw it outside on the compost heap before one of their children takes pity on it and puts it back into a pot. About a month later it starts to green up a bit and by xmas it’s good to go. They paid $80 for it in 2005 and reckon it the best xmas shopping they have ever done lol.

  29. debsgarden says:

    Oh, your tree hates to go! I love the photo of it filled with little birds. It has certainly been a good tree for you, and I know it must be so sad to see it go – but what a wonderful life it had! By the way, we once threw a Frasier fir out in the woods after the Christmas season. It was partially covered with leaves and mulch, and in April we discovered that it had sprouted roots! We are too far south for these trees, but we actually planted it in hopes it would live. Of course it died when summer’s heat arrived, but it was still amazing to us.

    • Had I not had it in the stand, I was almost certain it would put out roots. It showed new growth until recently. If I lived elsewhere, I would have dug it up myself and replanted. It was still in the basket, so I could have cut roots back to the wire basket and had a decent root ball. That is why I was so sad my friend never came to remove and resell it.

  30. Donna I think that tree is enchanted…it was raised lovingly by you and it is staying just for you and your birds.

  31. That was a beautiful story! I have always wished for a real Christmas tree in our home. Sadly, it’s not really possible in my place. We tried it once but it didn’t really last long especially since Christmas season is celebrated for a whole month in this side of the world!

  32. Brian Comeau says:

    That’s really cool. I love the shot of the tree at Christmas inside and the one with all the birds in it. Even if you wanted to get rid of it, it looks like your friends wouldn’t let you. 🙂

  33. Fergiemoto says:

    I’m amazed that the tree lasted so long! Wow, that’s great!
    I especially like the photo with all the birds in the tree. We have a lot of finches that hang out int he trees, but I’ve never seen that many birds in one tree before.

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