TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Turkey day has come and gone, America’s busiest shopping weekend is behind, and now Christmas is right around the corner. While some are divided on what type of tree to have, most holly jolly Americans do have a tree, decorate for the festivities, and run their power bills up in the name of holiday cheer.
Just four types of Christmas trees are grown in Florida, according to the Department of Agriculture. While that means you can definitely buy local, some people don’t always choose to go the natural route.
According to FDACS, a typical tree takes three to six years to grow into the “well-shaped” size you want to put in your home and dress up. The agriculture department describes a well-shaped tree as 6- to 8-feet tall.
Here’s what trees are available in the Sunshine State.
According to the NTCA, Virginia Pines are among the most popular trees put up for the holidays in the southern United States.
Their “stout and woody” branches and dense foliage “respond well to trimming.” Outside of Christmas cheer, Virginia Pines are also known as good nesting sites for woodpeckers.
IFAS reports the Virginia Pine is able to “easily adapt to most soil conditions, except alkaline soils” and yellowish-green in color.
The National Christmas Tree Association describes Red Cedars as “compact” and with a “pyramidal crown” with a shiny, dark green color and reddish bark. The University of Florida’s Institute of Farming and Agriculture Sciences says the Red Cedar is technically a member of the Cypress family, meaning it doesn’t produce pollen. As a member of the Cypress family, it’s not a cedar but a juniper tree, as far as biology.
Compared to other Christmas tree options, the Sand Pine is short when it comes to height and needle length, according to IFAS. Sand Pines grow slow, and are described by IFAS as “scrubby.” In terms of shape, Sand Pines have an irregular crown and fine texture, with fragrant needles.
The Sand Pine is a tree of many names, and is also known as the Florida Spruce Pine, Scrub Pine, and Alabama Pine, according to North Carolina State University.
According to the National Christmas Tree Association, Leyland Cypresses are the most popular Christmas tree in the southeast U.S.
They have a dark green-gray color and “very little aroma,” in addition to not making pollen because it’s not a pine or fir tree. NCTA said the cypresses are a tree that “those with an allergy can still enjoy” during the holiday season.
The tree is also not a naturally occurring species, according to NCTA. Instead, the trees are farmed by root cuttings. The species was grown by accident, all the way back in 1888. It’s a hybrid of Monterey Cypress and Alaskan Cedar, which resulted in a “rare” intergeneric crossbreed.
Familiar, convenient, but fake.
Plastic trees are easier to find, with multiple retailers selling them for prices between $30 to $150 on average, from stores like Walmart, Home Depot, or Lowes. Larger, more elaborate, trees, even those that aren’t pre-decorated, can price out as high as $300 from some retailers.
There are of course, exceptions. If you want a tree that feels real, the National Tree Company will sell you one, but it’ll cost a pretty penny. Pricing for the 7.5 foot tall artificial Douglas Fir range up to $650 depending on where you’re buying it, though with the number of options the company has, prices can rise even higher.
Tree farms in Florida
There are multiple Christmas tree farms in Florida, and two right in Tampa Bay. The Florida Agriculture Department has a farm locator online that can help you find a place to buy a real Christmas tree.
Both are in Dade City, the Lazy Lay Acres and Ergle Christmas Tree farms.
Ergle Tree Farm has multiple varieties of tree available, and is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. through the month of December, with trees ranging from small to large and including some types imported from the northern U.S.
Customers for Ergle can choose to cut their own trees, as well as take part in a variety of family activities on the farm. Pricing on real trees is based on height, with trees under five feet costing $36. For trees six to nine feet, costs add $6 per foot, while trees over nine feet are priced at an extra $7 per foot.
At Lazy Lay Acres, the farm is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day, also with multiple types of trees available. Self-serve tree cutting is also available at Lazy Lay. Like Ergle, Lazy Lay sells both Florida-grown trees and imported trees.
Some retailers also sell real trees, like Lowes, Walmart, and Home Depot, to name a few. Prices there average a range of prices between $75 to above $100, depending on height, width, and variety.