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How to dispose of holiday greens responsibly Here’s what to do with holiday greens when the season is over

Lori Seele, Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area Coordinator

Decorating the house is a much loved ac­tivity during the holidays. But we don’t want to let those lovely greens bring trouble to our landscape. Various pests that are not native to our region can hitch a ride on Christmas trees, wreaths, boughs, vines, and plants with colorful fruits and seeds.

According to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, these include: elongate hemlock scale, boxwood blight, Oriental bittersweet, gypsy moth, brown marmorated stink bug, spotted lantern fly, and Japanese maple scale. If these are released due to improper disposal, they can potentially wreak havoc on our native plant communities.

The elongate hemlock scale (EHS) is a tiny insect that secretes a waxy coating and feeds on the sap from hemlocks, firs, and spruces. The scale can cause needles to turn yellow and fall off. While the EHS scale has not been found on the Minnesota or Wisconsin landscape, during the 2018 holidays, it was intercepted by Wisconsin plant health officials on shipments of Fraser and balsam fir Christmas trees and boughs, wreaths and oth­er evergreen decorations. Accidental introduc­tions like this could lead to the spread and estab­lishment of this invasive species on the landscape and significant problems for Minnesota Christmas tree producers, nurseries, and natural forests.

  • 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 determine what services are offered in your area.
  • Do not toss trees and greenery into near­by woods or your home compost pile; that would spread any infestation.
  • Wreaths and other decorative greens can go into trashcans.

If you think you may have any of these pests among your holiday décor, contact the Minnesota Department of Agriculture via email at Arrest.the.Pest@state.mn.us

A useful resource is the University of Minnesota’s plant diagnostic clinic, https://pdc.umn.edu/

Further information can be found at: https://www.mda.state.mn.us/holiday-greenery-best-management-practices

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