Kim Toscano for Real Simple on how to choose the best Christmas tree. The remodeling professionals at SRB Signature Kitchen & Bath can help you with your next kitchen or bath remodel just in time for the holidays!
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Find your perfect match—whether you’re worried about managing your allergies or keeping those vintage ornaments held up.
There’s more to Christmas tree shopping than just finding the tallest tree in the farm (or store lot). Maybe you’re in search of that nostalgic fragrance or wondering which tree will hold the heavy ornaments your grandmother gifted you—and not all Christmas trees are alike. Finding the right size and shape to fit your home is just part of the equation; there are a number of other factors that determine how well a Christmas tree will suit your decorating desires and personal needs. Follow our guide below to learn about the different types of Christmas trees and how to choose the right one for you.
Most Fragrant Christmas Tree: Balsam Fir
Look no further than balsam fir for that home-for-the-holidays aroma that lasts all season long. Among the most popular of Christmas trees, balsam fir has dark green needles and good needle retention. These trees also have an excellent pyramidal form and a slender, spire-like top perfect for holding a star.
Best Christmas Tree for Needle Retention: Scots Pine
Scots pine, also called Scotch pine, is another popular variety and a favorite of traditionalists. The dark green needles do not fall off even when dry, keeping your floors clean throughout the holidays season. The stiff branches form a dense crown and hold ornaments well. An added bonus, Scots pine is also among the more affordable Christmas tree selections.
Best Christmas Tree for Ornaments: Fraser Fir
Fraser fir has many of the same characteristics as balsam fir, including a wonderful scent and good needle retention. Strong, well-spaced branches hold even the heaviest ornaments and produce a nicely shaped crown. The needles are green to blue green on the top and have silver undersides, adding a frosty appearance to the tree.
Fullest Christmas Tree: Douglas Fir
The soft, dark green needles of Douglas fir radiate from branches in all directions, giving trees a full, dense appearance. The branches are not as strong as in the other firs, so you will need to decorate with lighter-weight ornaments, but the trees have good needle retention and a pleasant aroma. Douglas firs are also another economical choice for the budget-minded.
Bluest Christmas Tree: Blue Spruce
Blue spruce is the tree of choice for those looking for blue foliage, but that fabulous color comes with a trade-off, as spruce does not last as long as fir trees. Wait to set this tree up until closer to Christmas and wear gloves and long-sleeves when decorating, as the blue-gray needles are quite sharp. On the plus side, blue spruce has good symmetrical form and strong branches. It also has the best needle retention among spruce varieties.
Most Unique Christmas Tree: White Fir
Concolor or white fir is a great choice for those wanting the color of a spruce with the staying power of a fir. The color varies from powdery green to blue green. The needles are longer than other species and have excellent retention. Rather than clusters, the needles are arranged in neat rows, lending a nice full appearance to the pyramidal shape. However, the biggest draw of white fir is the fresh citrus fragrance.
Best Small Christmas Tree for Apartments: Alberta Spruce
Bring Christmas cheer to small spaces with a potted Alberta spruce. The perfect pyramid form and crisp fragrance provide a miniature version of your favorite Christmas tree. Dress it up with ribbons and bells, or a simple burlap wrap and red bow around the pot. Dwarf Alberta spruce is perfect for decorating tabletops, desks, and mantles. Plus, they make a great holiday gift.
Best Christmas Tree for Allergy Sufferers: Leyland Cypress
Southerners are quite familiar with Leyland Cypress, which is one of the more common species found on u-cut tree farms in the Southeast. It is also a great selection for people allergic to more traditional Christmas trees. Leyland cypress has very little aroma and, more importantly, does not produce the allergy-causing compounds found in many Christmas trees. Leyland cypress also has bright green foliage and will not drop needles like other trees. One note, though, even though these trees have good form, the branches cannot hold heavy ornaments.
Best Christmas Tree to Have Around Pets: White Pine
Needles dropped by Christmas trees can be a hazard to pets (as well as young children). Sharp needles hurt tender paws and can cut your dog or cat’s mouth and stomach lining if ingested. So, pet owners should consider a species with soft flexible needles, like white pine. The blue-green needles of White Pine grow 3 to 5 inches long and have good retention. This species also has little aroma, which is good for allergy sufferers. The branches are not as strong as firs, so decorate with lighter ornaments.
Most Adaptable Christmas Tree: Noble Fir
The noble fir has a slightly narrower profile than other trees on this list, making it a good choice for tight spaces. It also grows very tall and is commonly used to decorate two-story entryways or rooms with cathedral ceilings. A beautiful selection with blue green to silvery green needles, this long-lasting Christmas tree has stiff branches for decorating and great staying power. Due to the excellent needle retention, noble fir branches are commonly used for wreaths, swags, and garland.
Easiest Christmas Tree to Maintain: Canaan Fir
Combining the fragrance of balsam fir and the needle retention of Frasier fir, Canaan fir just might be the perfect Christmas tree. This new and noteworthy variety is growing in popularity. As with any real Christmas tree, make sure to keep its stand full of fresh, clean water to maintain freshness and make your tree last as long as possible.