Needles beneath Christmas tree

A Christmas tree can fill your home with festive cheer. But it can also fill your living room with a blanket of hard, dry needles. It’s a prickly problem that may be tougher to avoid as the climate warms.

Chastagner: “Needle retention is very strongly related to the exposure of a tree to cold temperatures prior to harvest.”

That’s Gary Chastagner of Washington State University. He says that if autumn temperatures are unusually warm …

Chastagner: “… the needles will be more likely to fall off, particularly if the tree is allowed to dry.”

Some Christmas tree growers also struggle with increasingly wet spring weather. Chastagner says too much moisture in the air and soil can promote fungi and diseases that damage tree needles and roots.

But he says research to identify and grow trees with better needle retention holds promise, so he’s confident the industry can adapt.

Chastagner: “The future for the Christmas tree industry, and the ability to provide consumers with high quality trees that have excellent needle retention, good moisture retention, is fairly bright.”

So perhaps more time can be spent singing carols and less vacuuming under the tree.

Reporting credit: Mark Knapp/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Sarah Kennedy

Sarah Kennedy is an editor and content producer with ChavoBart Digital Media, a production firm with a focus on scientific and environmental media. Her work on Climate Connections includes developing story...