Choosing A Christmas Tree: Compare Varieties And Check For Freshness

A Christmas Tree Farm
(Image credit: WoodysPhotos)

Christmas can be a time of joy and fellowship, but it is also a moment of numerous decisions. One question that some people struggle with is: What type of Christmas tree do I want?

Although most Christmas tree varieties are green conifers with a pyramid shape, a closer Christmas tree type comparison shows a number of differences between them. Read on for information that will help you pick your best holiday tree. 

Classic Christmas Tree Type

When you head out to the lot to buy your tree, you’ll likely see at least several kinds of evergreens available. What are the different types of Christmas trees? It helps to have some idea of what’s out there before you shop.

The classic Christmas tree type is an evergreen conifer with fragrant needles. The tree rises to a point on top in a pyramid shape.

Christmas Tree Type Comparison

Some popular classic Christmas tree types include Douglas fir, Frasier and balsam firs, white and Scotch pines, and Colorado blue spruce. All are conifers but there are differences. 

  • Douglas fir trees have soft, flat, blue-green needles that don’t fall easily but don’t work well for heavy ornaments. 
  • The firs also have soft flat needles, but they are dark green with silver bands on the bottom, and offer a spicy, resinous fragrance. 
  • The pines are tightly sheared to create a dense tree shape and have clean pine fragrance. 
  • The unique color of the Colorado blue spruce makes it an appealing selection and their branches hold any ornament you might have. 

Best Real Christmas Tree Variety

When it comes to choosing the best real Christmas tree variety, there are no right or wrong answers. Everything depends on the preferences of a family. It’s very important to decide in advance where the tree will be located so that you can be sure the tree will fit into it. Know how many sides of the tree will be exposed so you can be sure it will look good from all angles.

Another practical tip for finding your own best real Christmas tree variety is to evaluate your ornaments before you shop. If you tend to have large, heavy things to hang on the tree, consider getting one of the trees with stronger branches, like Colorado blue spruce. If a particular scent is a Christmas tradition, keep that in mind as a requirement. No variety smells quite like pine the way pine trees do, but firs also offer a spicy scent. 

Do you want dark green needles? Go for Scotch pine. Yellow-green? Fraser fir’s a good choice. If you want silvery blue, consider one of the blue spruce. Be sure that the particular tree you choose has a base that is straight and long enough to fit solidly into the tree stand.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.