Celebrate this Holiday Season with Trees

Organization offers tips for buying and giving holiday trees.

| November 21, 2008

Washington, D.C. – When President Bush lights the National Christmas Tree this year, he continues a long-standing tradition that began with a gift from American Forests in 1924. That gift, accepted by President and Mrs. Coolidge, was a 40-year-old, 35-foot Norway spruce, and it became the first living symbol of Christmas for the entire nation – the National Community Christmas Tree. Today, officials predict 30 million to 35 million families will bring home a cut Christmas tree this year. In addition, Christmas trees provide benefits from the time they are planted until after the holiday season when they can be recycled.

For decades, American Forests has encouraged the commercial growing of Christmas trees and the planting of living trees. The gift of a living National Christmas Tree was American Forests’ way of urging the use of living Christmas trees as a conservation measure. Before the Christmas tree industry, people cut trees from the wild, sometimes illegally, and always with little consideration for the continuance of the forest.

The Benefits of Christmas Trees

It takes a Christmas tree an average of five to 16 years to grow, and as they grow, Christmas trees support life by absorbing carbon dioxide and other gases while giving off fresh oxygen. Every acre of Christmas trees planted gives off enough oxygen to meet the needs of 18 people. Today in the United States, enough Christmas trees are planted to supply oxygen to 18 million people a day. Also, the farms that grow Christmas trees stabilize soil, protect water supplies and provide a refuge for wildlife while creating a scenic view. Often, Christmas trees are grown on soil that will not support any other crops. In addition, according to the National Christmas Tree Association, when one Christmas tree is cut down, one or two are planted in its place – an average of 56 million trees each year.

Keeping a Live Christmas Tree

American Forests recommends enjoying live Christmas trees because of the many environmental benefits of planting trees. Buying a live tree also makes your holiday “green” go further! If you have space for a “ball and burlapped” or containerized tree, and can provide the extra care this type of tree requires, it’s well worth the additional effort.

First, decide where to plant your tree, and prepare the area. Remember, your Christmas tree will be a full-grown tree someday. To care for your living Christmas tree, keep the root ball of your replantable tree moist at all times. After 7-10 days of indoor appreciation, move the tree to a protected place outdoors for several days to help it make the adjustment from a warm house.

Your local nursery should be able to answer any questions you have concerning the care of your tree. As soon as you can, plant the tree in the hole you previously prepared (if your area is frost-prone). If you don’t have the space, check with a local tree-planting group to see if it has a program to accommodate your tree.

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