How To Grow Mistletoe Indoors: 4 Helpful Tips

Last Updated on November 8, 2022 by Cristina

Mistletoe has long been a holiday favorite during the Christmas season. Knowing how to grow mistletoe indoors is a great way to decorate your home during the holidays. With the proper steps, you can grow this beautiful plant in the comfort of your own home.

Though it may take some experience, you can successfully grow mistletoe inside. However, it is important to note that the berries from the mistletoe plant are toxic and can be harmful to both people and animals. Proper care must be taken when growing mistletoe indoors and it should not be grown where pets can get to it.

All About Mistletoe – How To Grow Mistletoe Indoors

There are over 1,000 different varieties of mistletoe that can be found worldwide. They are native to North America, Europe, and Asia. Unless growing for a festive harvest, it is generally not recommended to grow mistletoe as it can be destructive to other plants.

Mistletoe is a type of parasitic perennial that needs a host tree in order to support it. For American mistletoe, the best type of trees includes hardwood species such as aspen, ash, oak, maple, walnut, poplar, and elm. For best results, the tree should be at least 20 years old since mistletoe needs an established host.

Mistletoe flowers in late winter or early spring, however, the flowers aren’t considered impressive and are not sought after. Many people grow mistletoe for its signature red berries which come from female flowers. Though most people associate mistletoe berries with being red, they can also be white.

Mistletoe grows best in partial shade or full shade. It grows in USDA growing zones 5-9 and can grow to be three feet tall by three feet wide. To help control the spread of mistletoe and prevent it from taking over your tree, regular pruning is recommended.

Mistletoe Uses And Meanings

The tradition of decorating with mistletoe during the Christmas season dates all the way back to the Celts of northern Europe. Mistletoe was used in winter solstice ceremonies as a green symbol of growth to ensure the return of warmth in the spring.

Mistletoe has also been associated with fertility due to its ability to bear fruit in winter. In Ainu of Japan, mistletoe used to be spread in crop fields to ensure a bountiful harvest. In Austria, a cutting of mistletoe would be placed in a couple’s bed to encourage conception.

These old traditions led to the practice of hanging mistletoe in doorways and kissing under it. Many people today will still decorate with sprigs of mistletoe in their homes during Christmas.

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Where Does Mistletoe Grow Best?

Mistletoe needs a host plant in order to grow. It will grow best on a tree that is 20 years or older as it needs a healthy, established host.

Mistletoe will grow best on hardwood, hawthorn, poplar, and conifers. They can also grow on some fruit trees as well such as lime, apple, and lemon.

Can Mistletoe Be Grown Indoors?

Mistletoe is not typically grown indoors but it can with the right steps. Just like when growing outside, it will need a host tree that it can live off.

How Do You Keep Mistletoe Alive?

Once mistletoe is established it is easy to care for. Be sure that the host tree is free of diseases or pests and be sure to prune your mistletoe so it doesn’t become invasive.

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How To Grow Mistletoe Indoors

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How To Grow Mistletoe Indoors

Due to its nature, mistletoe isn’t typically grown indoors but with the proper care and steps, you can grow it in your home. To start, you will need a small indoor tree that is already established.

Step By Step Directions: How Do You Start A Mistletoe?

1. Choose A Good Tree

When growing mistletoe indoors, you will want to use a host tree. Good options include apple, lemon, or lime trees. These are fruit trees that can be grown indoors with the right care, though you can also choose to use a poplar or conifer tree as well.

2. Remove The Seeds from The Berries

To plant mistletoe, you will need to use fresh berries to get the seeds. Squeeze the seeds from the berries and then carefully wash off any residue on the seeds.

3. Plant The Seeds In Seed Flats – How To Grow Mistletoe Indoors

Add a potting mix with a generous amount of peat into your seed flats. Sow multiple seeds in your seeds flats and water your potting medium until damp. Cover your seeding flat with a lid or plastic cover and place it somewhere where that is well-lit and at least 60 degrees Farenheit.

Read more about How To Grow Tulips Indoors Without Soil: 4 Helpful Steps

4. Transplant Seedlings

Once the seedlings have several true leaves they are ready to transplant. To do so, cut away some bark on your tree and insert the roots into the cut bark and then pack it with moss. Keep the area misted until your mistletoe seedling attaches to your host tree.

5. Care For Your Host Tree And Mistletoe

Mistletoe is slow growing so it can be quite a while before your plant grows any berries. Continue to care for the host tree as normal to ensure that it grows healthy and strong. Not all indoor trees will make a good host for mistletoe so be sure to choose wisely.

Apply fertilizer in spring for healthy growth. Watch for both pests and diseases on your host tree as this can be detrimental to both the host tree and the mistletoe. It can take as long as four years for your mistletoe plant to mature and grow flowers and berries.

Care For Your Host Tree And Mistletoe 

Harvesting Mistletoe For Decoration

Many people still enjoy the tradition of decorating with Mistletoe at Christmas time. While many people buy sprigs of mistletoe at garden centers or even buy fake mistletoe for decorating, you can harvest your own.

To harvest mistletoe, cut off sprigs with berries using gardening shears. Then, you can use ribbon or twine to tie your sprigs together for decoration.

Learning How To Grow Mistletoe Indoors

Mistletoe typically isn’t grown indoors. However, with a host tree and the right steps, you can successfully grow mistletoe indoors. You will have to be patient though as it can take up to four years for your mistletoe plant to produce berries and flowers.

Sprigs of mistletoe with berries can make lovely decorations during the holiday season. Just make sure to not eat the berries or feed them to your pets as they are toxic.

Do you have any questions regarding how to grow mistletoe indoors? If so, please ask your mistletoe questions below.

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