Prince George’s Christmas tree farms report solid season -- Gazette.Net


More people are getting into the traditional holiday spirit and showing it with trips to local tree farms and nurseries to find their perfect Christmas tree, business owners say.

“People are more in the mood this year than last year,” said Jos Roozen, owner of Roozen Nursery in Fort Washington. He compared the renewed interest in spending several hours shopping for a Christmas tree this year to what he saw 30 years ago. In recent years, people have “just wanted to get it over with,” Roozen said.

Roozen said he often sold as many as 900 trees a year in the 1980s; these days, that’s closer to 250.

He sticks with Frasier firs and pines because they are less likely than other varieties to shed needles, which can lead to unsatisfied customers, Roozen said.

While his prices are unchanged, he said, the quality has improved because newer varieties of poinsettia and orchids are easier to grow. If purchased from a high-quality nursery, these flowers can last through March, Roozen said, adding that orchids have surpassed the poinsettia as the holiday flower of choice for many.

Patuxent Nursery in Bowie has adopted a few new strategies in recent years to enhance sales.

The nursery offers Frasier and noble firs, which are considered at the upper end of the tree market, said manager Robert Brashears. A portion of Patuxent’s trees even find their way to the White House and the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., he said.

Brashears predicted that sales will be up as much as 15 percent compared with last year. Patuxent trees sell at prices ranging from $65 to $250 each.

“People want to have a little Christmas. They’re tired of being told they can’t spend money,” he said, adding that Patuxent has reduced some of its prices to encourage shoppers.

The nursery sells about 900 Christmas trees annually.

Patuxent also specializes in 30 varieties of poinsettias so that it doesn’t compete with the common type sold at major retailers, Brashears said.

Tanner’s Enchanted Forest anticipates sales on par with last year, said Lucretia Tanner, who co-owns the 135-acre farm with her husband, William. About 10 acres of the Brandywine farm is dedicated to Christmas trees.

Tanner said the farm offers buyers the experience of walking through fields to cut their own tree and has sold trees to three generations of families in some cases. One of the farm’s returning buyers is 90 years old, she said. The farm was visited by a Chinese delegation several years back, Tanner said.

But the 50-year-old farm has faced increasing competition from artificial trees that are looking more life-like every year, Tanner said.

Americans spent $1.07 billion on Christmas trees in 2011, according to the National Christmas Tree Association. An additional $670 million was spent on artificial trees. More than 33 million live Christmas trees are sold annually.

“People who like to get trees from farms come out early,” Tanner said. “This isn’t a major money-making operation. It’s a different kind of experience being outside and doing something with nature.”

Popular trees at Tanners include the Norway and blue spruces and white pine.

For others, such as Interior Plantscapes in Laurel, the season also has been prosperous, bringing in new clients, said office administrator Cathy Miller.

Interior Plantscapes provides settings ranging from simple poinsettia arrangements indoors to entire tree and plant decorations throughout an establishment. The company was responsible for the plant decorations at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport this year, Miller said.

“Everything’s been good,” she said, attributing some of Interior Plantscapes’ growth to its new sales representative.

Interior Plantscapes typically picks up clients that will use them for yearly and seasonal decoration.