Holiday greenery brings joy and delight, but is there a humbug lurking in your décor? Trees, evergreen cuttings, and other plant material used for garlands, wreaths, and decoration can carry diseases and invasive species from out of state into our landscapes.
Pests of concern include elongate hemlock scale, a small insect established in the eastern U.S. where many decorative Fraser firs are grown. Damage from this invasive pest can cause the needles of hemlocks, firs, and spruces to yellow and prematurely drop. Also, boxwood blight and Oriental bittersweet, sometimes found on wreaths and centerpieces, can endanger native trees and other landscaping. More information on these threats can be found at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) website.
To protect our environment, the State of Minnesota is asking residents to properly dispose of greenery and trees as you remove your holiday decor.
At the end of the season, please remember these guidelines:
- The best option for Christmas trees is to use curbside tree collection or bring them to a designated drop-off site. Check with your waste hauler, city, or county to see what services are offered in your area.
- Do not toss trees and greenery into nearby woods or your residential compost pile; that would spread any infestation.
- Wreaths and other decorative greens can go into trashcans.
- If your city or county does not have an organized pick-up or drop-off, the last resort would be to burn the greens. Always check with local ordinances first and follow them.
If you suspect your greenery or tree may be infested with an invasive insect or disease, contact the MDA’s Arrest the Pest line at 1-888-545-6684 or visit firstname.lastname@example.org.