When it comes to choosing a Christmas tree, most people reside in two camps. Those that insist on a real tree and those who prefer the convenience of a faux evergreen.
If you are trying to decide between the two, here we’ll cover how to choose a Christmas tree that is right for you – whether your symbol of the season comes from a Christmas tree farm, big box store, or Amazon.
Which fresh-cut Christmas tree is the best for my family?
The beauty and fragrance of a fresh-cut tree are unmatched. However, real trees require daily watering. And real trees tend to be a messy – dropping a few needles here and there. Even so, a fresh-cut tree is still the quintessential symbol of the season.
What kinds of fresh-cut trees are available?
The type of Christmas tree available will depend on where you live. The most popular evergreen types include fir, pine, and spruce. See below for fresh-cut tree descriptions including color, shape, and scent.
Fir trees belong to the fir genus, (Abies). Firs are a popular choice for the holiday season.
Balsam Fir (Abies Balsamea)
Balsam fir branches are used for making Christmas wreaths and holiday table decor. This fir variety is usually sold in small to medium heights. Balsam firs can grow up to 66 feet tall in their natural habitat.
Shape – Conical with dense foliage
Scent – Highly fragrant with the traditional “Christmas tree” scent
Foliage color – flat, dark green needles with silvery-white highlights
Fraser Fir (Abies Fraseri)
The Fraser fir is popular for its sturdy branches, which are ideal for hanging ornaments. Fraser fir branches are frequently used for making holiday garlands. Fraser firs typically grow to a height of 50 feet in their natural habitat.
Shape – Conical – with branches that angle slightly upward
Scent – Highly fragranced with a pleasant evergreen scent
Foliage – Bright forest green needles
Noble Fir (Abies Procera)
Noble firs are native to the Pacific Northwest. Dense, strong branches make this species a good option for supporting heavy Christmas decorations. Noble firs typically grow to a whopping 230 feet tall in their natural habitat.
Shape – Tall, conical profile with upward curving branches
Scent – Strong evergreen scent
Foliage – Dark grayish-green needles that curve slightly upward
Pine trees belong to the fir genus, (Pinus) and are evergreen conifers. They proliferate by producing little seed-filled cones. Look closely – you may find a small cone or two hiding in your tree!
Scotch Pine (Pinus Sylvestris L.)
Sometimes called a Scots pine, this species is popular for its minimal needle drop, which means less cleaning after the holiday. The Scotch Pine is also known as the national tree of Scotland. Scotch pines typically grow to 115 feet tall in their natural habitat.
Shape – Conical with sturdy branches.
Scent – Medium to light fragrance
Foliage – Needles range in color from blue-green to dark green and grow in sets of two.
Virginia Pine (Pinus Virginiana)
Native to the Eastern U.S., the Cherokee people made use of the Virginia Pine for medicinal purposes. Virginia pines typically grow to 70 feet tall in their natural habitat.
Shape – A conical, slightly bushy appearance. Short branches with dense foliage.
Scent – Medium to light ‘green’ scent
Foliage – Short, yellow-green needles that grow in a twisting pattern
White Pine (Pinus Strobus)
In the 1700s, large logs of white pine were carved into ship masts. The white pine is the tallest growing pine in the U.S. growing up to 230 feet in their natural habitat.
Shape – Conical with flexible branches. Not the best choice if you wish to hang heavy ornaments.
Scent – Low to no fragrance
Foliage – Light bluish-green needles, with pointed tips. Needles grow in bundles
Norway Spruce (Picea Abies)
The Norway Spruce is native to Central, Eastern, and Northern Europe. This evergreen drops needles readily so adding water to the tree stand daily is important. The Norway Spruce will grow up to 180 feet in their natural habitat.
Shape – Conical
Scent – Medium Fragrance
Foliage – Dark green with tips. The branch tips bend slightly downwards
White Spruce (Picea Glauca)
The White Spruce is sometimes called Canadian Spruce or Black Hills spruce. This evergreen is native to Canada, Alaska and the northern U.S. states. The White Spruce will grow up to 130 feet in their natural habitat.
Shape – Conical with a lush appearance
Scent – Medium fragrance
Foliage – Blue-green needles that are short and sturdy
Blue Spruce (Picea Pungens)
Sometimes called Colorado Blue spruce is native to the Rocky Mountains of the U.S.
The Blue Spruce grows up to 75 feet in their natural habitat.
Shape – Conical – and considered to have the “perfect Christmas tree shape”.
Scent – Strong fragrance
Foliage – Silver-blue in color with sturdy branches that curve upward. Perfect for holiday decorating.
Choosing an Artificial Tree
If you have a family member that has allergies or you no longer have the time to keep up with watering a fresh-cut tree, an artificial Christmas tree may be the best choice.
What types of artificial Christmas trees are available?
Quality artificial trees are made to resemble evergreens found in nature so you will see a wide variety of shapes, colors, and sizes when you shop. If you are looking for a tree that you remember from childhood, some online seller offers Christmas tree styles based on U.S. geographies.
How do I decide what size of artificial tree to buy?
Before you shop, measure the space where you plan to set up the tree. Will it go in the corner of the family room? Is it a second tree for a guest room?
It’s difficult to determine the height and width of artificial Christmas trees when you see them in the store or view them online. Also, keep in mind the tree’s diameter when filling the space –
- “FULL” – this is the standard tree shape
- “NARROW” and “SLIM” artificial trees are designed to fit in tighter spaces
Did you know? If you want the tallest artificial Christmas tree for your home, purchase one that is at least six inches lower than your ceiling height. This will still leave enough room for a star or tree topper.