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Spruce your home up for the holidays with Virginia-grown Christmas trees and poinsettias

Spruce your home up for the holidays with Virginia-grown Christmas trees and poinsettias

The holiday season has arrived in the nick of time for those needing a festive distraction, and it’s the perfect opportunity to deck the halls with Christmas color courtesy of Virginia farmers.

Millions of Christmas trees and poinsettias are raised in Virginia each year, and growers work throughout the year to ensure both are readily available in late fall and winter.

“Whether we want the experience of visiting a choose-and-cut tree farm or the convenience of buying ornamental plants at local retailers, Virginians can count on our farmers to produce an abundant crop to meet our holiday decorating needs,” said Tony Banks, senior assistant director of agriculture, development and innovation for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.

According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, there are over 500 Christmas tree farms in the commonwealth, which generate annual sales of about $10 million. And, despite erratic weather during this year’s growing season, farmers are reporting another fruitful crop is ready for the upcoming holidays.

“I think the 2020 Christmas tree season is going to be excellent,” said John Carroll, a Louisa County Christmas tree grower and vice president of the VCTGA. “Families are putting special emphasis on keeping traditions alive during this pandemic, and the real Christmas tree is at the center of the holiday celebration.”

The VCGTA recommends consumers select their own tree from choose-and-cut farms to ensure peak freshness. Most choose-and-cut operations open the day after Thanksgiving, and growers are prioritizing safety during the pandemic.

Customers can locate a nearby Christmas tree farm online, though it is advisable to check for changes in business hours or practices before traveling.

Accentuate your Christmas tree with colorful poinsettias

In addition to fresh Christmas trees, Virginians also can add color to their holiday décor with locally grown poinsettias.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Floriculture Crops Summary, Virginia farmers raised about 2.2 million poinsettias for a wholesale value of $10.3 million in 2018.

“Many consumers may not be aware Virginia is fortunate to have a number of poinsettia growers around the state,” Banks said, also noting that the plant’s popularity generates additional income opportunities for nurseries and farms during late fall.

Stephanie Black, a grower and manager of Atlantic Growers in New Kent County, said she begins selling poinsettias Thanksgiving week, and most people start buying them right after that holiday.

Poinsettias come in a variety of dazzling colors and patterns, but the solid reds remain bestsellers. Black said her customers marvel over varieties that are cream, pink and Red Glitter—one that has red leaves with white splotches—but most of them buy the red.

“It’s just tradition,” she said. “It’s one of the [plants] that’s reliably the red color that everybody associates with Christmas—with the pretty green leaves underneath.”