Keeping your Evergreen Green

Brooke Beam, Ph.D.

Ohio State University Extension, Highland County

Agriculture and Natural Resources/Community Development Extension Educator

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, how lovely are thy branches. The evergreen is a prominent symbol of the holiday season, but Christmas tree branches are more lovely when they aren’t dropping pine needles into the carpet. Thankfully, one easy task will help your tree’s branches stay lovely for the rest of the season.

The tradition of decorating homes with evergreen boughs dates back to the early Romans, according to Dixie Sandborn with Michigan State University Extension. Fir trees were first used as Christmas trees around 1,000 years ago. However, the tradition became more popular after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were shown standing in front of their Christmas tree in the London News in 18461. One of Thomas Edison’s assistants developed the idea for electric Christmas tree lights in 1882, with the first sale of Christmas lights in 18902.

While individuals who are celebrating Christmas this year have many options when it comes to their trees and decorations, keeping fresh cut trees watered will help the tree stay hydrated. This will help keep the pine needles from dropping, and also keep the tree from drying excessively and becoming a fire hazard. Christmas lights should be turned off unless the tree is supervised by someone in the house in case of a fire.

Another topic you may have seen in the news related to fresh cut Christmas trees are praying mantis eggs. The eggs are attached to the branches of the evergreen trees and when the trees are brought inside in the warmth of homes, the eggs may begin to hatch. However, simply removing the branch the egg casings are attached to and leaving the branch outside will allow the eggs to hatch naturally. The egg casings are round and brown in appearance and can contain several hundred eggs in each.

Keeping your fresh cut decorations green for the holidays can be achieved with adequate water and by checking the tree for dry branches. Before bringing the greenery into your home, check the branches for any eggs or animals that may be attached to the tree. For more information on how to keep your greenery festive this season, contact the Highland County Extension Office at 937-393-1918.


Upcoming Events:

A fifth Beef Quality Assurance Training will be held at Union Stockyards on Tuesday, January 22, 2018, at 6:30 P.M. Please RSVP to the Highland County Extension Office at 937-393-1918.

The next Highland County Master Gardener Volunteer meeting will be held on Thursday, January 17, 2019, at 10 AM in the Large Meeting Room in the basement of 110 Governor Foraker Place, Hillsboro, OH.

Fertilizer and Pesticide Recertifications: 

February 19, 2019

Ponderosa Banquet Center, 545 S. High Street, Hillsboro, Ohio 45133

5:00 pm to 6:00 pm Fertilizer Recertification – Private and Commercial

6:30 pm Pesticide Recertification (Core, 1, 2,3, 4, 5, 6) Private Applicators Only

March 4, 2018

Ponderosa Banquet Center, 545 S. High Street, Hillsboro, Ohio 45133

10:00 am to 11:00 am Fertilizer Recertification – Private and Commercial

11:30 am Pesticide Recertification (Core, 1, 2,3, 4, 5, 6) Private Applicators Only

Registration details will come in the mail from the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Registration for OSU Extension Pesticide and Fertilizer and your renewal application for ODA Pesticide/Fertilizer must both be completed. Meals will be included at each recertification training at Ponderosa.


1History. 2018. History of Christmas Trees. Retrieved from

2University of Illinois Extension. 2018. Christmas Tree Facts. Retrieved from:


Don’t Forget About the Young Gardeners!

Submitted by Faye Mahaffey

Ohio State University Extension Brown County Master Gardener Volunteer

Have you thought about the younger generation of gardeners and what you might give them to fuel their interest in digging in the dirt? Each year when I speak with 4-H gardeners, I am thrilled when I hear the words, “I learned about gardening from my Grandparents.”

One of my favorite catalogs to leaf through is “Gardening with Kids.” They have a fantastic website full of great ideas for parents and teachers, and yes, grandparents! Does a young family live close by? Have you considered inviting their children to visit your gardens?

In the words of the author of “101 Kid-Friendly Plants,” “Kids are endlessly curious, basically kind, completely genuine, and a lot of fun. They enjoy messes, are gleeful about the basics of nature, and absorb anything they are interested in like giant sponges.” What qualities make perfect plants for kids? Yummy fruit. Big, bold flowers. Funky leaves. Sweet fragrances. Branches to hide in. Fly-eating jaws. Cindy Krezel’s book is a great resource for finding plants that are safe, easy to use, and fun in their own way. But she also cautions readers that you must always think “safety first!”

Another fun book is Rocks, Dirt, Worms & Weeds– A fun, user-friendly illustrated guide to creating a vegetable or flower garden with your kids. Jeff Hutton, author, landscaper and gardener, guides grown-ups and children in starting seeds indoors, creating a garden, and harvesting the bounty. In addition to teaching kids how to compost and mulch, Hutton provides ideas for activities in and around the garden, including: Planting a sunflower maze, Making a rain gauge, Creating a butterfly garden, and much more.

Looking for some fun “easy read” books for young gardeners? Some of my favorites include: Oh, say can you seed? (from The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library), Miss Maple’s Seeds, Seed to Plant (National Geographic) and Ten Little Caterpillars.

Wondering about gardening supplies for that young gardening enthusiast? Or do you want to spark some interest? What about a windowsill herb garden kit? A weather station? Do you have a bird-feeding station? Have you ever thought about raising worms? Do you want to do a better job of composting? These are all activities that are great for young gardeners as well!

It’s supposed to warm up a bit. Now would be a great time to install a snow measuring stick with a young gardener! Take a square stake 2” x 2” and 5 to 6 feet tall. Drive the stake into the ground 8-12″, so it will stay upright. Measure off 6” increments and mark them with a permanent marker. Then paint/color each increment a different color. Write down what color indicates what depth. In winter you should be able to look out of the window and see your stake!

It’s almost time for that year-end list of successes and failures. What worked and didn’t work. Get out that garden journal and start your list. Do you have any gardening “resolutions” for 2019? Start writing!