John Curtis, a Christmas tree grower in New Jersey, has found a profitable niche for his tree farm by growing over 40 varieties of trees that offer something different for shoppers looking for a unique tree to take home. Both new visitors and repeat customers appreciate the experience of seeing so many varieties after being accustomed to the three or four usual varieties at most Christmas tree farms.
Technically, an exotic Christmas tree is a variety that is not native to an area, but Curtis has taken that definition to a new level with varieties such as the Arizona cork bark and the King Boris, a natural hybrid of the European Silver Fir. Curtis says
“I like a challenge. I wanted to make this tree farm different from any other. Many of these trees are so beautiful. The Korean Fir, for instance, has white on the underside of the needles. The Grand and Nordman Firs grow in a natural Christmas shape, requiring no pruning.”
Exotic Christmas tree varieties have several benefits, according to Curtis, such as:
- Superior needle retention
- Unusual color or texture
- Insect and disease resistance
- Frost and drought resistance
Some of Curtis’s favorite varieties include:
- Arizona corkbark
- Bornmueller, also known as Turkish Fir.
- Canaan Fir
- Concolor Fir, with a unique citrusy aroma.
- European Silver Fir
- Ernest Fir, discovered in China.
- King Boris
- Korean Fir
- Nikko Fir
In addition to growing exotics, Curtis has found two additional profitable niche markets. The first is growing eco-friendly live Christmas trees in pots for those in smaller homes, such as condos. He also sells cut greens for Sukkot, or Feast of Tabernacles, a week-long Jewish holiday. He supplies enough branches to build a 90 square-foot shelter, used to eat a meal to celebrate the harvest.
There is room for an exotic Christmas tree grower in every community, and plenty of potential customers who are looking for something different. If you’re thinking about growing Christmas trees for profit, be sure to explore the fascinating world of exotics. Our book, Growing Trees for Profit, lists wholesale sources for Christmas tree seeds and seedlings.