Protecting Your Plants as You Decorate for the Holidays

As you make your yard twinkle for the holiday season, you’re probably wrapping lights around much of your landscape.  If you want your yard to shine year round, make sure to follow these tips from the Kemper Center for Home Gardening on the best way to string outdoor holiday lights on trees and shrubs.

🎄 Make sure to only use lights that are listed for outdoor use.

🎄 Inspect lights for any damage before you place them on the tree or shrub.

🎄 Avoid hanging lights or other decorations on young trees and saplings. Their branches are not strong enough to support the weight and may be damaged.

🎄 If you’re lighting an outdoor tree or shrub, it’s all about balance. Be sure the lights are tight enough that they don’t blow around in the wind but loose enough to ensure you don’t damage the plant. Right underneath the bark is a layer of tissue called the vascular cambium. If the vascular cambium is damaged around the entire circumference of a branch or trunk, it can cause those parts to die.

🎄 When stringing lights on trees with large flower buds, such as magnolias and dogwoods, be careful to not accidentally knock flower buds off the ends of the branches. You want those buds to bloom in spring!

🎄 Don’t worry about the lights getting too hot. Although string lights do produce some heat, it is not enough to trigger a mature tree or shrub to break dormancy.

🎄 Remove lights by spring to allow for unrestricted new growth.

For more gardening tips, a monthly calendar of gardening tasks, and other helpful advice, visit the Kemper Center’s Gardening Help page.

Catherine Martin
Public Information Officer

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