Click a question below for more information.

What should I look for when buying a tree?
For tips on buying a tree, click here.

How do I care for my tree?
For tips on caring for your tree, click here.

Where is my Christmas tree from?
Hart-T-Tree Farms is headquartered in Grassy Creek, North Carolina.  Read more about our farm and our family business by clicking here.

How is my Christmas tree grown?
Read about the different seasons on our farm by clicking here.

Why is it better to purchase a live tree rather than an artificial tree?
In our opinion, there are several reasons why it is better to purchase a live tree.

1. Real trees are better for the environment.

Environmentalists across the nation have come to a fairly clear-cut consensus: real is better.

There are several reasons that a real tree is more eco-friendly than an artificial tree, but the primary reason is because an artificial tree is non-biodegradable. Most artificial trees are made from Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) plastic that will sit in landfills forever. Also, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, when produced or burned, artificial trees release dioxins that can cause liver cancer and developmental problems.

According to a Life Cycle Assessment conducted in 2009 by Ellipsos (a consulting firm in Montreal that specializes in sustainable development) that compared the environmental impact of a real (or natural) tree vs. an artificial tree, artificial trees have a greater overall impact on climate change. The carbon emissions used in the production and transport of artificial trees are greater than the carbon emissions used in the production and transport of real trees. Interestingly enough, the study also noted that “Carpooling or biking to work only one to three weeks per year would offset the carbon emissions from both types of Christmas trees.”

What about the impact of a real, farmed Christmas tree on the surrounding eco-system? All factors considered, if farmers practice integrated pest management farming methods and keep pesticide use to a minimum, Christmas trees can have a positive impact on the environment. Check out our articles under the Go Green section of our website for more information.

Some more facts about real trees and the environment:

  • Every acre of Christmas trees in production produces the daily oxygen requirement for 18 people.
  • Tree farms help to stabilize the soil, protect water supplies and provide wildlife habitat.
  • The industry points to the reduction of carbon dioxide through Christmas tree farming, thus helping with the battle against global warming.
  • Growing Christmas trees provides a habitat for wildlife.
  • Recycled trees have been used to make sand and soil erosion barriers and been placed in ponds for fish shelter.
  • Christmas trees remove dust and pollen from the air.
  • Artificial trees will last for six years in your home, but for centuries in a landfill.
  • 59 percent of real Christmas trees harvested are recycled in community programs.
  • Christmas trees are often grown on land unsuitable for other crops.

2. Real trees are “made” in America.

Nearly all Christmas trees sold in the United States are grown in America. The most notable exception: Many trees sold in the northeast are from Canada. On the other hand, 85% of artificial trees sold in the United States are manufactured in China.

As noted in a Washington Post article:

If the spiritual meaning of Christmas really has been overtaken by commercialism, this city of skyscrapers and gritty industrial suburbs now amounts to a kind of present-day Bethlehem, the source of so many of the products that have come to define the holiday. Last year, three out of every four artificial Christmas trees sold in the United States were made in one of 3,000 factories here, according to Chinese and Hong Kong customs data compiled by the Shenzhen Arts & Crafts Industry Association, a trade group that represents makers of toys, gifts and holiday goods.

Nearly an equal percentage of Christmas lights, ornaments and wreaths in American homes were made here as well, along with most of the goods placed under the tree: China and Hong Kong together exported about $20 billion worth of toys last year, according to customs data, or some two-thirds of all toy shipments globally. Many of the toy factories are clustered in Shenzhen or in surrounding parts of Guangdong province.

3. Real trees smell better.

Who can resist the fresh smell of an evergreen? It fills the house and puts everyone in the Christmas spirit!

Are artificial trees fireproof?

No.  Overloaded electrical outlets and faulty wires are the most common causes of holiday fires in residences.  These are just as likely to affect artificial trees as real trees.

In 2004, the Farmington Hills Fire Department in metropolitan Detroit conducted a test of how real and artificial trees react in a house fire.  The artificial tree, which was advertised as “flame retardant,” did resist the flames for an amount of time, but then was engulfed in flames and projected significant heat and toxic smoke, containing hydrogen chloride gas and dioxin.

Do I put anything special in the water?

No. All the myths of tree perservative are false and/or not proven. Good rule of thumb is to treat your tree like you would treat your own body, fresh filtered water. Sugar will only attract ants.

Am I allergic to my Christmas tree?

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, evergreen pollens, with their thick, waxy outer coating, have never been considered a significant allergen, and are unlikely to cause a reaction. A 6’-7’ Fraser Fir grows in the field for approximately 8 years before it is harvested. In many cases, allergic reactions are not caused by the tree itself, but things on the tree, like dust and other pollens that have settled on the tree over all those years growing in the field. Hosing the tree down with water before taking it into the house will help reduce or eliminate the allergens on the tree. You can also use a spray bottle with a mild detergent like Dawn (1/4 tsp is plenty) to break down any settlements on the tree. Just mix the Dawn in a spray bottle, mist down the tree, and then hose it off.

How do I water a tree?

The tree will need adequate water. Displaying trees in water in a traditional reservoir type stand is the most effective way of maintaining their freshness and minimizing needle loss problems. Once home, place the tree in water as soon as possible. Most species can go 6 to 8 hours after cutting the trunk and still take up water. Don’t bruise the cut surface or get it dirty.

Some things to note:

  • Because of the freshness of our trees, they may not need to take up water for up to a day or two. So, please do not be alarmed if they are not taking up water as soon as you bring it home.
  • The temperature of the water used to fill the stand is not important and does not affect water uptake.
  • Check the stand daily to make sure that the level of water does not go below the base of the tree. With many stands, there can still be water in the stand even though the base of the tree is no longer submerged in water.
  • Drilling a hole in the base of the trunk does not improve water uptake.
  • As stated above, shaving the bark off the trunk of the tree will prevent the tree from being able to drink water.
My tree is not taking up water. Is that bad?

It is normal for fresh trees not to take up water right away. Especially if there is a lot of rain during the harvest, trees will have a lot of moisture in them already and might not take up water in the first few days. To keep the tree fresh, make sure that the tree is given a fresh cut, put it in water as soon as you can (before the resin reseals the trunk), and keep the stand full of water. If the stand goes dry or if the water level is too low, air fills the trunk and prevents water absorption. You can try warm water to open the seal and encourage water uptake. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t. If the branches are still pliable, your tree is in good shape!

It is possible that air bubbles have formed all the way up the trunk of the tree. This means that the tree cannot absorb water and likely will dry out quickly. We call these trees “duds”. It’s impossible for us to know which tree will be a “dud” tree. If you have taken care of your tree (kept the stand full of water, displayed it out of the sun and away from sources of heat), but it will not take up water, contact the lot where you bought the tree or e-mail us at customerservice@hart-t-trees.com. If you bought the tree at one of our retail partners, please talk to them about your “dud” tree.

What do I do if my tree is too big to fit in the stand?

If your tree is too big to fit in the stand, you will have to get another stand.  To avoid this, inspect your stand before you leave the house to purchase your Christmas tree.  Make note of how big a trunk your stand can handle.  Or better yet, bring your stand to the lot or store.

Avoid whittling the sides of the trunk down to fit a stand.  The outer layers of wood are the most efficient in taking up water and should not be removed.  Once the bark has been removed and the cambium layer has been destroyed, the tree will not absorb moisture.  The bark is the physiological component that will absorb moisture out of the bowl and keep the tree fresh.

Remember that to display a tree indoors, use a stand with an adequate water holding capacity for the tree.  As a general rule, stands should provide 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter.  Devices are available that help maintain a constant water level in the stand.

What do I do if my tree has a split trunk?

Some types of Christmas trees, particularly Fraser firs, may develop a split in the trunk. If your tree happens to have a split or crack in it, don’t worry!  Given a fresh cut off the base of the trunk and placed in water, trees with cracks will take up water normally for the entire holiday season.

Under certain climatic conditions at the time of harvest (warm, dry harvest), a small percentage of Fraser fir Christmas trees will develop cracks vertically along their trunks.  Often, cracks will close up as trees take up water.  If a tree is very dry or does not readily take up water, it is because the tree has been subjected to excessive drying after the crack developed.  Cracks are not directly related to foliage freshness, a tree’s ability to take up water, or fire safety (these are problems that occur after a tree has lost much of its water content).  If you still have concerns about the split in the trunk of your tree, contact us at customerservice@hart-t-trees.com.

My tree has brown needles. Is it dying?

Probably not. It is normal for a healthy Fraser fir to have dead needles near the trunk and in the bottom branches. As the tree grows, the interior needles receive less sunlight and start to die off. Bottom branches are trampled on, smashed against the slope of the mountain, or become entangled in a neighboring tree. During harvest and at our Christmas tree lots, we “limb up” the tree to remove unsightly branches and try to shake out dead needles. However, if the tree is wet — in the field or at the Christmas tree lot — it’s difficult to shake all the dead needles from the tree. Once home, give the tree a good shake or two before putting it in the stand to remove as many of these dead needles as possible. Again, if the outer and upper branches are green and pliable — your tree is happy and healthy!

Do all species keep equally well after harvest?

Certain species simply last longer and remain fresher than other species.  Some of the best are the North Carolina Fraser fir, Balsam fir, Scotch pine and Douglas fir. Regardless of the species, consumers must make the final judgment of quality by looking at, touching, feeling, smelling and shaking the tree.  Not all trees are treated properly post-harvest and some growers harvest their trees much earlier than others — factors which can influence freshness and needle retention.

Why is cold weather during harvest important?

Trees have longer needle retention when they have gone “dormant”.  Fraser firs go dormant in North Carolina when there has been 3-4 days of under 40 degree weather.  It’s also possible for trees to come out of dormancy if the weather warms up.  If the harvest is warm, not all trees will hold their needles as long.  However, most trees should still last until Christmas — just maybe not Valentine’s Day!

Help!  I’ve found bugs in my tree!

Christmas trees in North Carolina are grown in a near-natural setting, so unfortunately, your real Christmas tree may have an unwanted hitchhiker. Don’t worry, these unwanted hitchhikers do not bite or cause disease. They are just a nuisance. They are most likely Cinara aphids, spider mites, or praying mantids. They are NOT likely to be ticks (in fact, we have never found a tick on a harvested tree). Most years, these pests are rare. Perhaps one tree in 100,000 has any one of these pests on it. Chances are you can get a real tree every year for the rest of your life and never be troubled with them again. Generally, post-harvest pests become more of a problem in years with a warm, dry fall.

When you bring the tree into your home, the insects that have spent the winter in the Christmas tree think spring has come and become active again, even reproducing in the home. A similar situation occurs in cold climates when houseplants are left outside on the patio in the summer, then brought back inside in the winter. These houseplants may harbor spiders, sow bugs, earlyworms, or some other critter that has found a safe place to live. As stated above, in Christmas trees, pests such as Cinara aphids, spider mites, and praying mantid egg cases may be found. Again, these pests do not bite or cause disease. In many ways these hitchhikers are a symptom of a fresh tree recently harvested.

Hart-T-Tree Farms treats our trees for pests when we notice that there is a problem. However, sometimes, it’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack. When enough trees are infested with pests, they can be found through scouting and then treated. But sometimes only one tree in more than an acre of trees has one of these post-harvest pests on it. No one notices they are in the tree until they are brought into the home. We try to be good stewards of the land and water, so we strive to use pesticides only when they are needed to preserve tree quality and when they will effectively control the pest.

If you have found a post-harvest pest, here is a list of Dos and Don’ts from the North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension Service:

  • DO: Shake your tree before setting it up in the home. Christmas trees can have anything from pollen to dust to leaves and dead needles. Shaking the tree will remove a lot of debris. Consider washing the tree with water from a garden house and letting it dry before bringing your tree inside. If post-harvest pests are present, you’ll see them falling out.
  • DON’T: Mash Cinara aphids or other pests on carpets or furnishings. They will leave a purple or red stain.
  • DO: Vacuum pests up using an attachment without a beater bar.
  • DON’T: Worry about the ornaments. The insects won’t stay on them until next year.
  • DO: Treat with an insecticide if necessary. Consider using insecticidal soap to treat the tree for aphids which can be purchased from home improvement stores premixed. Spray aerosol home insecticides can also be used, but remember they are flammable. Set them set off near the infected tree, but unplug the lights first.
  • DO: Remove the tree from your house if the infestation is large.
  • DO: Return the tree for another one if treatments fail.
  • DON’T: Give up on a real tree. The odds are against your ever having this problem again.

Contact Us

If you have found a post-harvest pest on your tree and you purchased the tree at one of our Hart-T-Tree Farms retail lots in Florida, please visit the retail lot that you bought the tree from and speak to the lot managers. Or feel to contact us at customerservice@hart-t-trees.com or (336) 384-9603. We will reimburse you the cost of the tree and/or let you exchange it for another one. If you have purchased your tree from one of our retail partners, please contact the garden center or store where you purchased the tree.

For more information about post-harvest pests, visit the North Carolina State University Christmas Trees website.