How To Choose a Christmas Tree

live Christmas tree is a cherished symbol of the holiday season. For some people, a live tree is all about the wonderful aroma that evergreens add to the home. For others, a tree needs to be a sturdy place to display cherished ornaments.

    Take the guesswork out of selecting your tree by learning which tree types meet your needs. Use this guide as you and your family head out to pick the perfect tree this year.


    • Balsam Dark-green needles with a fantastic fragrance and soft feel. Branches are somewhat flexible and support lightweight ornaments only. Excellent needle retention with or without water.
    • Douglas: Very popular Christmas tree species. Soft needles are dark green to blue green and radiate in all directions from the branch. Good, sweet fragrance. Strong branches support ornaments well, but can be tightly spaced, which may make hanging ornaments difficult. Excellent needle retention; best with water source.
    • Fraser: Dark blue-green needles have a silver tinge and soft feel. Branches turn slightly upward, which makes decorating easy, and offer good strength for decorating. Tree has a nice fragrance, but not as strong as Balsam fir. Excellent needle retention with or without water.
    • Noble: Popular in the Western U.S. Soft, blue-green needles turn upward, which exposes the lower branches. Many trees have evenly layered branches, which creates an optimum ornament display. Stiff branches support even heavy decorations without a problem. Excellent needle retention with or without water.


    • Scotch: Very popular Christmas tree species. Bright green needles are exceptionally prickly. Branches can be tightly spaced, which makes for difficult ornament hanging. One of the best pines for needle retention; needles remain on trees even when dry.
    • Virginia: Popular in the South. Dark green needles beautifully twist as they emerge from branches, which are stout and strong, able to support heavy ornaments. Wonderful pine fragrance. Excellent needle retention.
    • White: Soft, flexible needles have a blue-green color. Fragrance is low. Branches tend to be flexible; not good for holding heavy ornaments. Frequently used to add pretty texture to garlands and wreaths. Excellent needle retention.


    • Colorado Blue: Blue needles are somewhat sharp to the touch. Strong branches support heavy ornaments well. Fragrance is mediocre; not as strong as the firs. This is a favorite for a living Christmas tree that’s planted in the landscape after the holidays. Strong needle retention.
    • Norway: Dark green needles tend toward sharp. Branches are flexible; best used for lights or lightweight ornaments. Fragrance is mediocre; not as strong as the firs. Poor needle retention unless you get a fresh-cut tree and keep it well-watered. If this is the tree you want, buy it the week before Christmas.
    • White: Blue-green to green needles are short and stiff, almost prickly. The fragrance isn’t a traditional pleasant one; crush a few needles and sniff before bringing this tree home. Branches hold ornaments well. One of the best needle retention among the spruces.


    • Leyland: Very popular in the Southeast. Dark gray-green needles don’t have a strong traditional fragrance. Flexible branches hold lightweight ornaments only. Individuals with sap or oleoresin allergies use this tree, which is sap-free and doesn’t cause allergic symptoms. Many families also choose this for a living Christmas tree that’s added to the landscape after the holidays. Excellent needle retention.