Make a Christmas wish: Plant the seeds for love in 2022, and get out there with your beloved.

  • Nigel Colborn walks through how mistletoe grows into festive favorite.
  • UK expert advises against cutting into trees where hens are planting mistletoe seedlings
  • According to the expert, February is the ideal time for seed-grafting.

With Christmas just a week away, let’s abandon our gardens and decorate our homes with fresh picked evergreens. “Holly bears the crown,” is the theme of the Christmas carol. It’s subtle allusion to the crown-of-thorns.

For now we will enjoy the luminous leaves and berries that glow like embers. The centerpiece of your holiday table is easy to create by mixing holly sprigs and blue spruce with a tall red candle. Mistletoe is a combination of small leaves and sweet white berries.

Mistletoe, regardless of your opinion, is amazing. This botanical cuckoo can be considered a hemiparasite. It uses CO2 in the air to fuel its primary food supply. However, other nutrients can be obtained from the host trees.

Mistletoe uses birds to spread seeds. The birds eat the berries then use their sticky beaks to wipe the branches with the glue, sometimes leaving the seeds behind. Every seed forms a root-like structure called a “haustorium”, which penetrates the bark of its host tree.

The white stuff: Mistletoe produces pearly berries which are favourites with birds

White stuff: Mistletoe is a favorite of birds because it produces pearly berries.


Common host trees include apple, pear, lime and hawthorn. If you own any of the above, it is possible to grow mistletoe. Only the female plants bear fruits. If you would like your mistletoe berries to grow, raise several seedlings.

Each seedling has to plug into the tree’s blood vessels while germinating. The seeds of mistletoe berries are actually green if you examine their sticky interiors. This allows them to absorb CO2 before they germination.

The ideal time to seed-graft is between February and March. You should keep the berries in the cold, but not under direct sunlight. However, success rates are much lower than with freshly picked berries that have been planted in the winter.

Gather seed for wild mistletoe in February if you or someone else knows where it grows.

You can also order your seeds directly from the supplier. Jonathan Briggs, an expert in mistletoe, is your source of information and guidance.

The Perfect Guests 

Don’t chop into trees when you place mistletoe seedlings. You can mimic a bird by wiping every sticky seed on the bark. Each will stay put during germination. The process of development can take a while, even if the seedling is tapped into the tree. The first berries will not appear until several years later.

A few mistletoe flowers won’t do any harm if your tree is in good health. The hemiparasite would die if the tree fell. The mistletoe is best not to harm its host. However, heavy infestations can cause damage to small and medium trees.

When we were young, our friends and me risked the lives of others and even landowners by scrounging mistletoe. Adults pay shocking prices for the sparse and bilious leaves and stalks. They’re quite revolting, as are the white sticky berries.

Why do we put it up on Christmas Eve? Norse mythology is the source of this tradition. Baldur, the son of Odin’s chief god was murdered by Hod, a spiteful god who hurled mistletoe at his head.

Baldur’s mother, Frigg, was able to revive the boy using mistletoe. Mistletoe became the symbol of fertility and love. Have a wonderful Christmas! But please do not throw mistletoe at your in-laws.