Christmas Tree Care

— Written By Tamara Carawan
en Español / em Português

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Clicking on the translation link activates a free translation service to convert the page to Spanish. As with any Internet translation, the conversion is not context-sensitive and may not translate the text to its original meaning. NC State Extension does not guarantee the accuracy of the translated text. Please note that some applications and/or services may not function as expected when translated.

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Two men looking at a Christmas tree

Christmas trees are a holiday tradition that reminds us of past experiences and symbolizes hope for a new year. In North Carolina, Christmas trees provide a valuable addition to our economy, with North Carolina producing 26% of all the Real Christmas Trees in the U.S., the second-largest producer in the U.S. From approximately 38,000 acres of Christmas trees across the state, more than a dozen varieties are grown (Fir, Spruce, Pine, Arborvitae, etc.), with our native Fraser Fir the most popular.

So, what can we do to help protect this valuable holiday symbol and significant investment?

  1. Best Advice – just ADD WATER. A Fraser Fir has the potential to last 4-6 weeks when displayed in water and 3-4 weeks when displayed dried.
  2. To prepare your Christmas tree for display, make a straight fresh cut and remove approximately one-half inch of material from the base of the tree before placing the tree in the stand.
  3. Use a stand that will hold a gallon of water or more. Check the water level often and keep the stand full. A tree may take up a gallon of water in the first 24 hours and a quart each day after that. Preservatives are not needed, just plenty of fresh water.
  4. Place trees away from heat sources, heating vents, fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators, and sunny windows. These sources can dry out foliage and can create fire hazards.

In some rare cases, Christmas Trees can bring along unwanted hitchhikers such as Cinara aphids or spider mites. These insects are rarely a problem, but can sometimes arrive in large enough numbers to create concern. Give the tree a good shake outside and rinse the tree with a garden hose. This can help to dislodge pests and loose needles, and reduce dust or pollen. If you notice insect pests when the tree is displayed, use a vacuum to carefully remove these insects. If the insect problem is significant, a return trip for a replacement tree might be needed. The application of an insecticide is rarely needed, but insecticidal soap is an option. However, thorough coverage is needed, which will be almost impossible once the tree is decorated. Try to avoid smashing insects that fall from trees. Most will leave an unsightly dark stain.

Picture of Cinara Aphid

If you would like to learn more about Christmas trees and their production, please visit the NC State University Christmas Tree Portal

To locate a Christmas tree farm, visit the NC Farm Fresh Website or the NC Christmas Growers Association Website