Growing Green: Christmas tree tips
Christmas trees have been a tradition for hundreds of years and bring the beauty and amazing scents of the outdoors into our homes for the holidays.
Real trees are part of an outdoor ecosystem, thus there is always a chance that insects may be brought indoors with a tree.
With the region’s infestation of the spotted lanternfly a concern, questions have been raised regarding the possibility of spotted lanternflies being carried into homes.
Although unlikely, spotted lanternfly eggs can be on Christmas trees. If they were to hatch indoors, the nymphs pose no threat to humans or animals, and will die quickly.
Christmas tree growers follow integrated pest management practices to minimize such threats. Growers also work with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to meet the spotted lanternfly quarantine requirements prior to the sale of Christmas trees.
If you are concerned, make sure to inspect your tree prior to purchase. Spotted lanternfly egg masses are visible on the bark and can be easily removed.
Before you take your tree into your home, check the tree again. If you see egg masses, scrape them off, double bag them and throw them away. You can also place the eggs into alcohol or hand sanitizer to kill them.
In order to kill the eggs, it is critical that you “pop” the eggs if you are not double-bagging them or putting them in alcohol or hand sanitizer.
Go to: extension.psu.edu/spotted-lanternfly, or call 1-888-4BADFLY for the most up-to-date and comprehensive information on spotted lanternfly and management options.
Pennsylvania is the fourth largest Christmas tree producing state. Purchasing a “real” Christmas tree benefits local growers and the local economy.
The question of whether it is environmentally correct to buy a real Christmas tree has been asked repeatedly in recent years.
According to Ricky Bates, associate professor of ornamental horticulture in The Pennsylvania State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences, the answer is an emphatic “Yes.”
You can breathe easier knowing Christmas trees are being grown. Christmas trees in the United States provide the daily oxygen requirements for millions of people.
And if better breathing is not enough, you can rest easier knowing that real trees are a renewable resource and can be easily recycled, unlike artificial trees.
Approximately 34 million trees are sold every year, and more than enough seedlings are planted to replace them. A million acres nationally are in Christmas tree production.
In the final analysis, Christmas tree farms benefit the environment in a number of important and diverse ways. Reducing soil erosion, creating habitat for wildlife, and sequestering carbon are just a few practical benefits realized by tree farming.
To keep your tree fresh-looking while in your home, remember that a tree uses up to one quart of water per day. Any tree, no matter what specie, will dry up and drop needles if not watered daily or if kept in a too warm room.
Be sure to cut two inches off the stem if the tree has stood outside for a few days. This exposes fresh wood that readily absorbs water.
“Growing Green” is contributed by Lehigh County Extension Office Staff and Master Gardeners. 610-391-9840; Northampton County: 610-813-6613.