Keep Your European Tree® Looking Good

Small potted Christmas tree in modern scandinavian style kitchen decorated for Christmas. Cypress, Chamaecyparis lawsoniana Ellwoodii
My Garden Life
December 18, 2019
Table of Contents

Potted European trees are a great way to bring the forest-fresh feel of a full-sized holiday tree to small spaces. Whether you are in an apartment, office, or just looking for a long-lasting decoration for a centerpiece or mantle, these little cypress Christmas trees add the perfect festive touch. Mini cypress trees can often be purchased with decorations already attached or you can add your own to suit your taste or holiday theme.

Potted Chamaecyparis lawsoniana Ellwoodii cypress with decorative pinecones on a table.

Once you find a miniature European Tree® to decorate your home, you might be wondering how to keep it
looking its best through Christmas and into the new year. We’ve gathered all the essential care tips and answers to our most frequently asked questions here in a quick list.

European Tree Light Requirements

Set your living holiday tree in a bright sunny location, but not directly in sunlight. Display your European Tree® near a north, east or west-facing window that provides bright, indirect sun.

How Often to Water European Cypress Trees

Another important step to keeping European Trees® looking good is providing the correct amount of water. The soil should always be kept slightly moist, but not soggy. Test the surface with your finger and water when it’s just dry to the touch. If left unchecked, over- or under-watered mini cypress trees will lose their needles.

Pro Tip: After each watering, dump out the extra water that runs into the saucer or pot wrap. It’s not good to leave a plant sitting in water.

Austria flower shop-miniature evergreen trees in pots

European Cypress Tree Placement

Never display a living holiday tree on top of a radiator or appliance. The heat given off will dry the plant out quickly and likely result in an unhealthy-looking plant. It’s also best to keep your little tree at least two feet away from forced-air vents which can dry out the needles and soil.

Potted Chamaecyparis lawsoniana Ellwoodii cypress on table with other star-themed decor.

Fertilizing European Trees

Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer monthly at half the usual rate recommended in the package directions.

What to do with your European Cypress Tree After the Holidays

If you live in USDA Zones 5 through 9, then you can plant your holiday tree in your garden rather than disposing of it (find your USDA Zone here). Your European Tree® should be repotted into a larger container in early January and grown indoors until the soil thaws in spring.

European tree-Chamaecyparis lawsoniana Ellwoodii growing in outdoor whiskey barrel

For those without a garden but with some sunny balcony or patio space, you can continue growing your miniature cypress outdoors in a planter. You’ll want to repot it into a slightly larger container every couple of years as the tree grows. Note that the hardiness of a potted tree kept outdoors through the winter is 2 zones higher than if it were planted in the ground. That means a potted European tree growing in a planter should be brought indoors if winter temperatures fall below 0° F (-18° C).

Cypress trees are native to temperate, coastal areas where the summer temperatures rarely exceed 80° F (27° C). European Tree® is a short variety that will grow six to ten feet tall if grown in the right conditions in the landscape.

Visit our Plant Library to learn more about European Tree® Indoors.


  1. Jo Ann Cry

    Where can I buy one or two of these

    • My Garden Life

      Hi Jo Ann,
      These charming little trees are most often found for sale at large chain stores or the floral/houseplant department of grocery stores as living holiday décor. You best chance of finding one is from around Thanksgiving through Christmas. One of the largest growers of European Trees is Rocket Farms. You could follow them on one of their social media channels to watch for information on availability or perhaps contact them directly to learn which retailers carry their products.

      • Tree lover

        They had them for sale at Sprouts Supermarket I got 10 of them for $5 each a few days ago, they were marked down from $16.99

        • My Garden Life

          Hi Tree lover,
          Sounds like you got a great deal; be sure to repot your plants into slightly larger pots if they are rootbound or plant them in the ground if you live in an appropriate zone for Chamaecyparis lawsoniana (USDA hardiness zone 5 or higher, lowest temperature tolerance is around -10°F (-23.3C°).

  2. Rochelle

    Is this a good variety to Bonsai??

    • My Garden Life

      Hi Rochelle,
      Chamaecyparis lawsoniana does have potential for Bonsai. The growth habit tends to be more vertical, so you’ll likely need to do some wiring and shaping to guide its form. It also is best suited for growing outdoors, not as a houseplant.

      • Debra Cornelison

        I bought one 12/ 23 /23 how tall will they grow and what size pot should it put it in now?

        Thank you

        • My Garden Life

          Hi Debra,
          Since European trees are often grown just for holiday décor the pots are typically quite small and the plant very often rootbound at the time of purchase. It is a good idea to repot it promptly! You’ll want to move it to a pot one or two inches larger in diameter than its current pot. Under ideal conditions your plant could eventually grow 2-4’ (0.6-1.2m) tall, but you want to always use a pot size appropriate to the current size of the plant. Placing it in a very large pot may seem like a good way to set your plant up for years of growth, but it is very difficult to maintain proper moisture around the root ball if you put any plant in a pot that is too large for its current needs, and your plant is likely to suffer for it. Plan to increase the pot size every year or two as the plant grows.


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