Helpful Christmas Tree Care

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Maybe you have or maybe you haven’t put up your Christmas tree. Trust me, I’m not judging. If you celebrate Christmas, then you are all too familiar with the joys and struggles of setting up the annual Christmas tree. For some, it marks the beginning of the joyful season but, unfortunately, a dreaded chore by others. For me personally, there is something special about the tree shopping excursion and bringing home the farm-raised goodness. Let’s be honest, it is hard to beat the aroma of a fresh North Carolina Frasier fir tree. Maybe it’s the childhood memories of working with my father and dear friends for sixteen years operating a retail tree lot in Hope Mills, which ironically, is now the entrance to a Walmart Superstore.

I mention that because of a recent post on social media from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). The post shared a perspective I believe is worth repeating. As reported by the IDNR, the average artificial tree last about seven years. With an one month average display time, the effective life span of an artificial tree is around seven months and then off to the landfill it goes, bringing along its metal and petroleum based plastics parts that last much longer. Now, I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty about their preference-fake or real-but I do think it is fair to highlight some of the benefits and tree care tips identified by University researchers at NC State University.

Live Christmas trees offer a renewable and biodegradable source that can benefit both humans and animals. Live trees possess the unique ability to filter carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere while releasing oxygen. Did you know, one acre of Christmas trees can provide enough oxygen for 18 people. With an average of 500,000 trees in the U.S., collectively that is enough to provide the daily oxygen requirement for 9 million people. Who doesn’t like a little clean air? In addition, the live trees can offer wildlife refuge both during the production years, and after they have been used as decoration. According to the N.C. Christmas Tree Association, production fields can support turkey, quail, songbirds, rabbits, and deer. Expired trees can be used to build brush piles for wildlife refuge or sunk in ponds to provide excellent feeding areas for fish. Tree recycling services are often provided to create mulch to use in landscapes. But one of the best parts of buying live, North Carolina trees, is knowing that you are supporting a farm family that is contributing to our growing agricultural economy. In fact, North Carolina. ranks second in the nation for Christmas trees harvested and cash receipts.

Although there are many benefits, care should be taken to help maintain a live tree. Jeff Owens with NC State Extension recommends making a fresh cut at least ½-inch thick at the base prior to placing it in a water-holding stand. Use a stand that can hold at least one gallon or more of water, and routinely check to keep it full of freshwater, no preservatives are needed. A fresh tree can use up to one gallon in the first 24 hours and then normally 1-2 quarts per day after that. Be sure to keep the tree away from heat sources that can get hot or make them dry out. Don’t use faulty lights or overload electrical circuits, and remember to turn off the lights before bed or leaving the house. A little care can go a long way to maintain a safe and healthy tree throughout the holiday. For a little extra fun, consider a backyard wildlife attraction after use by removing all lights and ornaments and adding strings of popcorn (no butter or salt), cranberries, or other safe treats. For more information check out

For more information, please contact Mac Malloy, Extension Field Crop Agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center at 671-3276, by email at, or visit our website.