Holiday Décor and its Care

— Written By Taylor Darnell
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  • Introduced as an ornamental to the US between 1825 and 1829.
  • Native to Mexico and widely cultivated by the Aztecs as a perennial species.
  • The showy ‘blooms’ of a poinsettia are actually called a bract; the true flowers are button-like green to yellow balls in the center of the bracts.
  • Poinsettias require at least 14 hours of darkness (short-day plants) to result in full, beautiful blooms at Christmas.
  • While poinsettias are NOT poisonous, it is not recommended to consume them and you should avoid contact with the white milky sap from the leaves or stems.

    Poinsettia 'Burning Ember', trialed with NCSU 2016-2017

    Poinsettia ‘Burning Ember’, trialed with NCSU 2016-2017. Photo from NC State.


  • Water when the soil surface is dry to the touch—place the plant in the sink and apply water until water flows from the bottom of the pot. Avoid watering the plant in the foil sleeve they come in or allowing the plant to sit in water for prolonged periods.
  • Temperatures should be between 60 and 70⁰F when not on display; they can tolerate temperatures up to 85⁰F—but not direct heat or sunlight.
  • They can be overwintered and used next year as well!

Live Evergreen Décor

  • Mainly comprised of Fraser Fir (Abies fraseri), Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus), Arizona Cypress (Cupressus arizonica), Leyland Cypress (Cupressus x leylandii), and Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii).
  • Fraser Fir trees are native to the Appalachian Mountainous region above 2700 feet above sea level.
  • Fraser Firs are the most common species of tree grown and sold in NC (94%).
  • NC produces >20% of the real Christmas trees in the United States.

    Abies concolor, Concolor Fir, used as a Chrsitmas tree in the Forsyth County Extension office.

    Abies concolor, Concolor Fir, used as a Christmas tree in the Forsyth County Extension office.


Steps To Prolong The Life of Live Greenery (Trees):

  • Make a fresh cut along the bottom of the tree (~1 inch thick cut from the original cut).
  • Place into a tree stand that holds more than 1 gallon (3800 mL) of water.
  • Check water levels often (daily) and keep the stand full (trees will commonly absorb more than 1 gallon of water during the first 24 hours).
  • Soak or mist wreaths or garlands for at least 30 minutes prior to install.
  • Place greenery away from sources of heat, direct sunlight, or windows.
  • Check light strands for broken, missing or non-functioning lights prior to decorating greenery.
  • Turn lights off before going to bed or when leaving the home.
  • Promptly remove greenery after the holiday season.

For more information, please visit the following sites:

Christmas Trees

General Christmas Tree Information:

NC State Extension Christmas Trees website

How To Keep Your Christmas Trees Fresh

Christmas Tree & Greenery Care:

Care for Your North Carolina Frasier Fir

Freshness, Fire Safety, and Your Tree

Bad Bugs

Hinesley, L. E. and G. A. Chastagner. 2016. Christmas tree keepability. p. 650-658. In: Gross, Kenneth C., Chien Yi Wang, and Mikal Saltveit (eds.). The Commercial Storage of Fruits, Vegetables, and Florist and Nursery Crops. Agriculture Handbook 66, revised. USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville Area.

NC Christmas Tree Association


NC State Extension Poinsettia website

Choosing Poinsettias

Decorating With Poinsettias

Home Growing Poinsettias

Poinsettia History

Are Poinsettias Poisonous