If your holiday tradition involves decorating a live Christmas tree, you might want to pick one up soon. 

That's because a shortage of trees south of the border is expected to cause a ripple effect across B.C., where sellers normally rely on imports to meet demand.

Gord Ferguson, who runs two Christmas tree lots in Vancouver and Richmond, said the industry has been inching toward a shortage for years.

"A cycle for Christmas trees is eight to 10 years, and they just haven't been growing enough for 10 years," Ferguson said. "Finally, it's hit the proverbial fan."

According to the U.S. National Christmas Tree Association, suppliers planted fewer seedlings during the recession of 2008, when prices and sales saw a slump.

Four days into this December, most Metro Vancouver tree lots are still full, but they aren't expected to remain lush and green for long.

The decreased supply is also causing price hikes right across the province. Local retailers are blaming higher wholesale costs from suppliers in Washington and Oregon for the higher price tags facing Canadian consumers.

Even major retailers told CTV News they have been impacted.

"Prices have definitely gone up," said Wim Vander Zalm of Art Knapp Garden Centre. "They're up about five per cent in retail this year."

Vander Zalm said his company’s prices currently range from around $30 for a basic Christmas tree to $120 for what he describes as a premium tree, such as a larger sized noble fir.

He advises anyone who has their heart set on a live tree to get out and buy one well before the holiday.

"There is going to be a rush, we know that," Vander Zalm said. "Don't leave it too much longer if you're looking to get a tree, because then there's going to be a mad panic."

People who put up an early tree should be vigilant about watering it daily. Firefighters warn that letting trees dry out drastically increases the risk of starting a fire at home.

Families are also cautioned to never leave their Christmas tree lights on overnight.

Statistics are not available for Canada, but the National Fire Protection Association reports an average of 200 home fires are caused by Christmas trees every year in the U.S., resulting in an average of six deaths.

With files from CTV Vancouver's Sarah MacDonald