Dispose of holiday greens and Christmas trees correctly to protect Minnesota’s urban and rural trees

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Invasive pests use festive foliage to hitchhike into Minnesota

Holiday greenery brings joy and delight, but is there a humbug lurking in your décor? Trees and boughs can provide diseases and invasive species from out of state the perfect ride into our landscape.

Pests of concern include elongate hemlock scale, a small insect established in the eastern U.S. where many decorative Fraser firs are grown. Feeding damage from this invasive insect 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 after the holiday season.

At the end of the season, please remember these guidelines:

  • The best option for trees is to use a 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 backyard woods or your residential compost pile, which will spread the infestation.
  • Wreaths and other decorative greens can be put in 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 arrest.the.pest@state.mn.us.