The following article comes from our own Doug Hensel’s blog from the Great Big Greenhouse in Richmond, originally published on November 28th, 2018.

It’s official! The Christmas season is here. Let’s keep it real!

Thanksgiving has passed, and December is fast approaching. We are officially entering the holiday season. Buying a Christmas tree is on everyone’s mind. It is fun to learn some background facts when it comes to our fresh trees and greenery that we use for holiday decorating.

I want to give a shout-out to the VIRGINIA CHRISTMAS TREE GROWERS ASSOCIATION (VCTGA) for much of the information that I am about to share with you in this blog. Maybe you didn’t even know that Virginia had a Christmas Tree Growers Association. It is an active association with many growers being members. In Virginia, we have over 4,600 acres used for growing Christmas trees. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Virginia is #10 in the U.S. by the number of operations with Christmas trees and #7 by total trees harvested and total acreage.

For hundreds of years, people brought living Christmas trees into their homes to decorate them during the holiday season.

Here are some more fun Christmas tree facts:

  1. The use of a Christmas tree, in our homes, comes from Germany. The British paid Germans and Hessian as mercenaries to fight in our Revolutionary War. In 1804, U.S. soldiers stationed at Fort Dearborn (now Chicago) hauled trees from surrounding woods to their barracks at Christmas. The popularity of the Christmas tree then spread over America. Charles Minnegrode introduced the custom of decorating trees in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1842.
  2. For every real Christmas tree harvested, farms plant 2 to 3 seedlings in its place.
  3. It can take as many as 15 years to grow a tree of average height.
  4. Franklin Pierce, our 14th President, brought the Christmas tree tradition to the White House.
  5. In 1923, President Calvin Coolidge started the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony now held every year on the White House lawn.
  6. Since 1966, members of the National Christmas Tree Association have presented a beautiful, fresh Christmas tree to the President and first family. They display the tree each year in the Blue Room of the White House.

Are you aware of the TREES FOR TROOPS program? Last year the National Christmas Tree Association provided 16,651 Christmas trees to military families. The VCTGA provided 1,239 to various branches of the military.

So, as we begin to select our personal Christmas tree, I hope many of you enjoyed learning a little history with the origin of the Christmas tree. Now, here are a few valuable care tips to help keep your prized Christmas tree fresh throughout the holiday season:

  1. Check the tree for freshness. The foliage of a pre-cut tree should be flexible when you bend the needles.
  2. As soon as you get your tree home, make a fresh, straight ¼ inch cut across the base of the trunk. Cutting the bottom exposes new wood that will drink up water.
  3. Use a tree stand that will hold a gallon or more of water. Be sure to add TREE LIFE or PROLONG to the water each time. These products help to keep the cut tree fresh for a more extended period.  Now, if you want a home recipe: take a gallon of hot tap water and add one cup of Karo syrup, 2 oz. of Chlorox, and a ½ t of Epsom salts. It works!

After the season, you can recycle Christmas trees as kindling, mulch, or placed in ponds for fish habitat.

Happy Holidays From Meadows Farms!