Eco Christmas Tree Alternatives

Break tradition and help the planet with an eco, alternative Christmas tree.

Spruce and pine might be the classic tree choices.

However, Friends of the Earth is calling for people to consider different tree species this December.

And by doing so, you could help fight the climate crisis, boost biodiversity, and support wildlife.

“We need to double UK tree cover to help the fight against climate breakdown, and your Christmas tree can be part of this,” says Emi Murphy, campaigner at Friends of the Earth.

“Buying a potted version with roots lets you grow it outside and use it again year after year, reducing its environmental impact and costing you less. A living tree will also carry on absorbing carbon from the atmosphere for years to come.”

All of the below can be found in containers. This is ideal for carrying inside come Christmas time, and perfect if you only have a small outdoor space.


A perfect festive alternative, and by some accounts the original Christmas Tree. Holly is evergreen so will be lively and colourful even in December. Be careful of the spiky leaves though – if you’re worried about children or pets you could take some cuttings to use as decorations instead of moving the whole tree indoors.


Another option for an alternate festive plant. It flowers in February – perfect for adding a splash of nature and colour during the latter part of winter. Its dense growth and red berry-like fruits provide valuable shelter and food for wildlife.

Apple and pear trees

Buy a container grown apple or pear tree, and you’ll be able to treat yourself to homegrown fruit in the autumn, and a beautiful blossom in the spring. They can also provide food and shelter for British wildlife including birds.

Bay tree

Evergreen shrubs that, if you’re feeling creative, can be pruned into stunning formal shapes. You can also use the leaves (fresh or dried) in cooking – perfect for that Christmas Day gravy.

Japanese Maple

Miniature maples can still provide shelter for wildlife, and the variety of leaf shapes and colours make it a beautiful tree for your garden. The flowers, which bloom in May and June, are pollinated by insects.


Drought resistant olive trees could be the perfect option for your potted tree. Some varieties can be quite sensitive to the cold, so it could be that you have to keep them indoors for the entirety of frost season rather than just December.

Yucca or Palm

If you’re really limited for outdoor space, or don’t want to worry about moving a potted tree around each December, then why not bring trees into your home year round? Large indoor plants like yucca or palm trees are perfect for bringing nature into your life, and would look fantastic with some Christmas decorations on them.