A lot of Iowans are quick to put away decorations in the days after Christmas, while others will wait several weeks. Christmas Tree grower Gary Harman of Indianola says, for the most part, it’s safe to keep a live tree in the house a few weeks beyond December 25. “If cared for properly, they will stay nice between Thanksgiving and early January,” Harman says. Most live Christmas trees require around a quart of water per day, according to Harman.
He’s encouraging Iowans to recycle their live tree. Most cities across the state offer curbside pickup of Christmas trees for recycling. “Many times they’re gathered, chipped and turned into mulch,” Harman says. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources also collects Christmas trees for recycling in state ponds and lakes as they make for good fish habitat. But, Harman notes, “Folks should not leave a Christmas tree at their local state park or anything without talking to the DNR. Talk to the DNR people…sometimes they’re looking for them, sometimes they’re not.”
Around 50,000 Christmas trees are harvested in Iowa each year. Harman says they’re more “ecologically correct” than artificial trees, which are typically made from plastic. “When those do wear out or become unusable, they go to a landfill and they’ll be there 100 years from now,” Harman says. There are roughly 100 Christmas tree farms in Iowa with 1,500 acres in production. Harman says it takes 6 to 12 years to grow a saleable tree.