The 7 Best Types of Christmas Trees for Your Home
Picking out a perfect tree isn't all about looks: A tree's scent, strength of branches, and needle retention all matter, too. Learn which evergreens make the best Christmas tree types, and why.
When shopping for a Christmas tree at a local lot or tree farm, you’ll likely encounter different types of Christmas trees from which to choose, including firs, pines, and spruces. What’s more, there are multiple species of each type of evergreen. When the salesperson asks whether you are looking for a spruce or fir, this shape of tree or that, who among us doesn’t freeze with indecision?
There’s no wrong choice, but some types of Christmas trees will probably suit your needs better than others. Ahead, learn more about the peculiarities of each type so you can choose the best tannenbaum—the one with just the right scent, shape and color—for your home.
1. Douglas Fir
Douglas fir is one of the most common Christmas tree types sold in the United States.
This evergreen is a staple in most Christmas tree lots and is adored for its full, pyramid-like shape and long-lasting needles. Soft, shiny needles grow on all sides of its branches, making it appear even fuller. But if the branches have been sheared, it can become too dense and difficult to decorate. For the subtly sweet aroma alone, this evergreen is worth considering.
Best For: Douglas fir is best for shoppers who are looking for a tree that adds a distinctive “holiday” scent to the room.
2. Balsam Fir
The balsam fir boasts a symmetrical shape and fresh scent, one that’s often captured in seasonal candles. This evergreen’s two-toned needles are dark green on top, silver underneath. The balsam fir is likely to retain its needles for four weeks, which is why it might be your best bet if you’re a holiday enthusiast who likes to put your tree up the week after Thanksgiving. When it comes time to decorate, be aware that balsam fir trees have soft, flexible branches—so it’s not the best choice for heavier ornaments. You might stick to lightweight DIY ornaments, paper chains, popcorn strands, tinsel, ribbons, or simple twinkling lights.
Best For: If you’re looking for a tree that will hold its needles for the long haul, consider balsam fir.
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3. Fraser Fir
Fraser fir is another tree that smells like Christmas.
“Fraser fir” is a name you might recognize as a scent often captured in winter-themed candles. This type of tree has even more to offer than a delightful aroma: Fraser firs have full pyramidal shape, with sturdy branches that are fit to support heavier ornaments (and enough room between branches to show off those bigger bulbs). Their needles are a dark blue-green in color, about 1 inch long, and softer than many other evergreens. Keep the tree well watered and the needles should hang on for 5 or 6 weeks.
Best For: If you have bulky ornaments that need space for display, consider Fraser fir. The somewhat looser spacing of branches means there’s more room for ornaments.
4. Scotch Pine
Scotch pine will keep its needles, even after becoming dry. If you need a long-lasting tree, look no further: The Scotch pine will retain its good looks and needles even if you forget to water it for a few days. These needles range from 1 to 3 inches in length and from bright to dark green in color. Downside: The needles are sharp, so beware while decorating.
Scotch pine branches are sturdy and suitable for ornaments of all weights and sizes. These Christmas trees are often sheared to create a full, dense shape, which means the branches may be very close together—another challenge when hanging ornaments.
Best For: Like a full, fluffy tree? Scotch pine could be your new favorite, as long as you don’t have pets or kids who might be injured by the tree’s sharp needles. Additionally, this tree’s stiff branches might be best for families with
5. Colorado Blue Spruce
The Colorado blue spruce is so named for its strikingly icy color.
If you’re one who likes to play with your holiday color scheme, the bluish-silver and bluish-white tones in the branches of a Colorado blue spruce might make for a nice change from true green trees. It has a nice pyramid shape with strong branches that can hold heavy ornaments. Take care not to crush the needles too much when decorating, however, because the tree’s resin emits a less-than-pleasant odor. Because blue spruces are often sold as living Christmas trees, they can be planted outside after the holidays. When cut, it’ll hold its needles well as long as you’re diligent about refilling its water reservoir.
Best For: If your holiday color scheme leans more blue than the traditional red and green, consider the blue spruce.
6. Noble Fir
Noble fir, also known as red fir or white fir, is distinguished by the silvery-blue undersides of its upturned needles. This pyramid-shaped, symmetrical tree has stiff horizontal branches capable of supporting heavy ornaments, and it can be counted on to remain lush and green throughout the holiday season. It’s fairly dense, so you’ll likely not have any bare spots. Noble has a milder scent than other Christmas trees, so might be a good choice for those sensitive to scent.
Best For: Crafters might consider buying a tall noble fir tree, cutting off the lower branches and forming them into wreaths or garlands.
7. Grand Fir
Ensure your holiday decor is beyond great with grand fir, a tree that sprouts soft, shiny, dark green needles with a silvery underside. This tree’s strong fragrance is described as a combination of pine and citrus. Its thick foliage is perfect for those seeking a lush appearance, but its branches aren’t particularly firm. For this reason this tree species, which is sometimes also called giant fir and lowland white fir, might not be the ideal choice for supporting heavy ornaments.
Best For: Those looking for a stately tree to display garlands or lightweight ornaments might consider grand fir.
Christmas Tree Care
Whichever variety you choose for your Christmas tree, make sure to give its trunk a fresh cut (at least 1 inch off the bottom) before placing it in a Christmas tree stand. Water it immediately and regularly, and follow these Christmas tree care tips to ensure that it lasts a full four weeks or longer, and get you from Thanksgiving through the New Year.
With additional reporting from Kathleen Corlett.