Before you know it, the holiday season is here and the time for choosing Christmas trees would become an important family errand that no one should miss.
There are only a handful of types but none of them will disappoint. You can identify each type based on general characteristics but surely, you will appreciate them individually.
If you are someone who wants to spruce up the yuletide this year with some real Christmas trees, here are the types of Christmas trees you need to know before you deck the halls.
Read also: 42+ Common Types Of Trees
In this article:
- Fir Christmas Trees
- Cedar Christmas Trees
- Pine Christmas Trees
- Cypress Christmas Trees
- Spruce Christmas Trees
- How long do Christmas trees last?
- Which state grows the most Christmas trees?
- How to grow Christmas trees
- Where to buy Christmas tree
Fir Christmas Trees
This type is considered as the most successfully sold Christmas trees because and are considered as the traditional live Christmas tree.
Firs are notable for their strong fragrance and their ability to retain their needles in hard frost.
They also have sturdy branches that are perfect for heavy Christmas ornaments and string lights.
They are also often used in yuletide wreaths. Firs grow best in high-altitude locations with cold climates.
#1. Noble Fir (Abies procera)
Like the Grand fir, it could also grow to up to 230ft and is native to northwest Pacific and northern California.
It is most notable for its dark green needles that all in all make a dense foliage that are evenly spaced from top to bottom along the trunk.
Its needles are slightly curved upwards and its branches are sturdy fit for heavy decorating. Aside from these, it also has a strong evergreen fragrance.
#2. Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
The Douglas fir is compelling to look at and having this indoors for Christmas will surely make a strong yuletide statement.
It is also the most grown and most commercially sold firs in the US.
It is notable for its pyramid shape, needles with blue to dark green color and have one of the strongest evergreen fragrance of all firs.
Its needles are flat in shape, soft in texture and typically grow in clusters. It has strong, steady branches for decors. It could grow to up to 330ft.
#3. Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea)
This fir is usually used for Christmas bouquets and wreaths native to the US and Canada.
As an evergreen, it is notable for its cone-shaped appearance and dense, dark green needles with tinges of silver-white.
Aside from offering a whimsical appearance fitting for a winter wonderland, it is also the strongest-scented Christmas tree.
It offers a crisp, spicy yuletide smell making it a popular choice. In the wild, it could grow to up to 65ft but for indoor Christmas display, a medium size would do.
#4. Fraser Fir (Abies fraseri)
This one is also a famous Christmas fir because of its strong evergreen fragrance and sturdy branches that make it seem like it was made for decorating.
It has unique yellowish-green needles, a cone shaped appearance and slightly upward-curving branches that will follow a spiral turn along the base.
It is used for heavier ornaments, as Christmas garlands and big yuletide wreaths. It can grow to up to 55ft.
#5. Grand Fir (Abies grandis)
It gets its name because it could grow to up to 250ft. It is native to northern California and countries in the northwest Pacific with colder climates.
It is a beautiful Christmas tree because of its unique yellow green color with needles that are naturally adorned with white stripes underneath.
Like most of the firs, it has sturdy branches made for decorating. And aside from its dense needles, it exudes strong evergreen fragrance.
#6. Canaan Fir
It is often called the hybrid of the Balsam and the Fraser because it bears strong resemblance with the two.
Like the Balsam, it has a cone-shape appearance and dense, dark green needles. Like the Fraser, it has strong branches that are perfect for decorating. This one has a subtle fragrance and flat needles.
It might be medium-growing but you could depend on it for a full five-week display because it has good needle retention. It is native to West Virginia and is relatively a newbie in the market.
#7. Nordmann Fir (Abies nordmanniana)
It is considered as the most visually appealing fir for its pyramid shape with short branches at the top and more elongated ones as it reaches the trunk’s base.
It is also loved for its rich green foliage that are suitable indoors because the leaves do not have pointed tips, it has strong needle retention and it has mild scent.
Most importantly, it has a long display life which lasts for more than five weeks.
#8. Concolor Fir (Abies concolor)
It is also fondly called as the white fir because it bears blue-green needles when it is young and turns into lighter green as it grows more mature.
It has a bulky pyramid shape appearance and its needles are soft and flat but pointed at the tips.
It has strong branches for decorating, exuding mild fragrance starting mid-fall. It can grow to up to 200ft. It has cultivars with exclusively blue color. The most popular of these is called Violacea.
Cedar Christmas Trees
Cedars and spruces are usually clustered together as there are not much of them that are used as Christmas trees.
Like the spruce, cedars are used for the manufacture of construction materials and of paper.
Cedars are survivors because they could tolerate frequent environment changes and are low maintenance.
Cedars are often seen in urban landscaping lined up in parks and boulevards in cold regions. If you want to go non-traditional, this is one of the choices you can go for.
#9. Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
It is also popular as pencil cedar and aroma cedar. It is identifiable for its dense branches forming a pyramid shape appearance.
Its shiny, dark green leaves are upward-growing. It emits a strong fragrance but its branches are only good for light decorating.
It is also known for being a slow-growing cedar that could reach a maximum height of 40ft. It is a famous Christmas tree in Missouri.
#10. Blue Spruce (Picea pungens)
This one is a good addition to a white Christmas theme because of its unique blue-gray needles making it look like it is dusted with snow.
It has a pyramid shape and dense foliage for Christmas strings and relatively sturdy branches for heavier Christmas ornaments. It is also referred to as the Colorado blue spruce and is native to the Rocky Mountains.
#11. Canadian Spruce (Picea glauca)
This one has three major species; the white, red and black spruce. Canadian spruce is cultivated generally for the manufacture of paper and construction materials.
It has grown to be a popular Christmas tree choice thanks to its Canadian blue spruce strain.
It is known for its compact branches and dense foliage fit for heavy Christmas decorations. However, its pointed tips could be prickly. It also has a mild scent that will not overwhelm your living room.
#12. Norway Spruce (Picea abies)
Overall, it is a pretty, pyramid shaped Christmas tree native to Scandinavia and other north European countries.
It has dense, deep green branches that hold up bulks of pine cones. As a Christmas tree, it is able to hold heavy ornaments because its branches are sturdy.
However, it has poor needle retention and a short display life. They key to keep it until after Christmas is to spray water on its tips everyday and watering the base.
#13. Deodar Cedar
This one is a true cedar and is native to the Himalayas. It got its name from the Sanskrit word devadara which means trees of the gods.
It has a rich historical and cultural significance in Asia.
As a Christmas tree, it is well-known for its soft, fleshy texture and silver-green foliage. It has a pyramid shape appearance and it is also called the California Christmas tree.
Before it became a renowned Christmas tree, it was used as specimen tree in California landscaping.
It can be used as a living Christmas tree during the holidays. It is best planted outdoors than to be cut for display indoors.
Pine Christmas Trees
Pines are hardy Christmas trees that could tolerate both cold and temperate climates. They are also relatively easy to grow.
In colder regions, they can grow even without tending. If optimum care is given, they could read 7ft in just 5 years.
The only downside to pines is that they have softer branches and could only stand light decorations and string lights. But as far as needle retention is concerned, they are a good choice.
#14. Virginia Pine (Pinus virginiana)
It is considered as a medium-growing pine because of its maximum height of only 70ft.
It is identifiable for its short and twisted needles that typically grow in pairs. It has a rich green color, with short and relatively sturdy branches for light decorations.
Its foliage will become denser through the years when trimmed regularly. It is a cheerful indoor yuletide tree with mild scent.
#15. Scotch Pine/Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris)
It is fondly called as the scots pine because it is the national tree of Scotland and is the most sold pine Christmas tree in the US.
Its leaves will bear bluish-green colors upon the arrival of the colder months and shall turn into a deep green color as soon as winter sets in.
It has a cone shape appearance and relatively sturdy branches fit for Christmas lights and light decorations. It is also known for being a fragrant pine with strong needle retention.
#16. Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)
It is known as the tallest growing pine in the US being able to grow to up to 230ft and can live for more than 400 years.
It is known for its light bluish-green color featuring needles that grow in bundles and have pointed tips. Albeit flexible, its branches are delicate and could easily bend when added weight, hence, it is not good for heavy decorating.
Nonetheless, it is still widely chosen because it is good for string lights and its mild smell.
Cypress Christmas Trees
If you want to go unconventional, cypress Christmas trees are the fit for you. Unlike pines and firs, cypresses do not produce sap, hence, are good for people with sensitive skin.
They also have mild to no scent so if you are one that cannot stand the strong aroma of evergreens, cypress Christmas trees are also good choices. They are easy to grow and can reach up to 6ft in 5-6 years.
#17. Leyland Cypress (Cupressus × leylandii)
It is the most popular cypress Christmas tree. It is notable for its upward-growing, gray-green, feather-like leaves and pyramid shape appearance.
Its lack of scent is also one of its identifiable characteristics. If you do not like your home to be overpowered with strong evergreen aroma, this is the Christmas tree for you.
At maximum, it could grow to up to 70ft. Its most famous strain is called The Leighton Green, widely available in choice and cut farms in the US.
#18. Arizona Cypress (Cupressus arizonica)
This medium-sized cypress grows to up to 60ft tall and is considered as one of the smallest Christmas trees.
It gets its name for being a native of the southwest US and in Mexico. It has an overall cone shape appearance because the lower branches will not extend very wide.
It has blue-gray leaves, mild scent and its branches are not very sturdy. It is more of an outdoor Christmas tree fit for string lights.
#19. Mediterranean Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)
Unlike the others, it has a peculiar shape because some of its branches grow upward while the others are curved downwards.
Nonetheless, it has the longest life cycle archived to have been into existence for more than a thousand years.
It is generally slim because its branches do not really extend long. It was originally an ornamental tree but because of its Christmas vibe, it was added as a popular landscaping material for modern, minimalist homes.
Spruce Christmas Trees
They can only be grown in very cold climates but if you want a traditional yuletide vibe, straight out of North Pole or Scandinavia, spruces could do just that.
However, this type has sharp needles and they are relatively harder to maintain.
Most of them have a short display life of only about two weeks. A few exceptional ones will have longer display time and stronger needle retention.
#20. Blue Spruce
If you want to have a unique-looking Christmas tree, this one’s for you. It has a dense foliage with silver-blue tinges but from afar will look like the green color of sage.
Its leaves are pointed at the tips, hence, could be very prickly. However, it has sturdy branches for heavy decorations and a strong needle retention that won’t leave a messy living room after Christmas.
#21. White Spruce (Picea Glauca)
It is also called the Canadian spruce or the white skunk spruce. It is the state tree of South Dakota and the official provincial tree of Manitoba.
It has a pyramid shape appearance with short, pointy branches at the top and longer branches as it reaches the bottom.
It has a beautiful silver-green foliage and strong branches that could hold heavy decorations. Although now more popular as a Christmas tree, it was mainly cultivated for manufacturing paper.
#22. Norway Spruce (picea abies)
It is called as such because it is native to Scandinavia and endemic in Norway. It is fast-growing and it can grow to up to 180ft tall.
It has needle-like leaves with dark green hue and pointed tips. It emits a subtle fragrance making it a Christmas pine. However, its branches are only sturdy for light decorations and it has poor needle retention making it a high-maintenance Christmas tree.
#23. Colorado Blue Spruce (picea pungens)
It is the state tree of Colorado and Utah, native to the Rocky Mountains. It can be identified through its waxy, bluish gray needles and branches that curve upwards.
At the winter’s peak, its blue-gray needles will turn into silver-blue-green hues. Its branches are sturdy for heavy decorating and it emits strong fragrance.
It is considered as the perfect Christmas tree in terms of shape and it could grow to up to 75ft.
How long do Christmas trees last?
Putting up a real Christmas tree can be a lot of work if you do not know how to take care of it.
At maximum, Christmas trees could last for up to five weeks. You can buy them earlier, say in November, but you have to know some care requirements.
The most basic things that you have to know is that Christmas trees should be positioned away from heat sources, spraying water on the tips everyday is required and trimming needles at the base is essential.
Which state grows the most Christmas trees?
While Indiana County in Pennsylvania is historically dubbed for being the Christmas tree capital in the world from 1950 to the late 1980s, it has long been replaced by two states in terms of Christmas tree production.
From 2012 to present, North Carolina and Oregon are the states that grow the most Christmas trees.
In total, they account for 79% of the total annual Christmas tree production of the US.
Most of their production are still fir Christmas trees but through the years have included a few cypress and cedar strains.
How to grow Christmas trees
If you want to avoid the rush of Christmas tree shopping, you might consider growing your own. Our advice is, you have to start now. Here are the steps in growing your own Christmas trees.
#1. Choosing your tree type
It has to begin with choosing which one to grow. Will it be the famous fir, would it be pine, or maybe you might want to try spruces, or cedars and cypresses? If you want to go with the traditional Christmas vibe, firs are the best choice.
For a more eastern feel, you can choose pines. If you want to go unorthodox with less scent and a more interesting color selection, spruce and cypress Christmas trees are the ones for you.
#2. Prepare the soil
Christmas trees are acidic that is why the first requirement is to wipe up the vegetation surrounding it or else they will all die.
The best planting sites for these trees would be well-drained soils where they could receive full sun. Heavy clay soils should be avoided unless the area is sloped. Pines will fare well in more sun but the rest could grow better in cold climates.
The first year of growing is pretty tedious as you would need to water the tree weekly starting from late spring to mid-fall.
After the roots are established in the second year, watering will be done only in heavy drought. Through the years, weed control and pruning will be the most essential. Annual shedding is normal. As a matter of fact, these trees lose 30% of their needles annually.
If we use botanical ranges, the harvest time for Christmas trees would be in nine years or when they reach at least 6ft in height. Small and medium growers can be harvested in five to six years.
Where to buy Christmas tree
This should not be a problem if you live near Christmas tree farms where you could choose and cut your own Christmas trees. But if you are not near these, here are some of the best places to buy real and artificial Christmas trees:
- Home Depot
- Whole Foods
- Ace Hardware
Christmas trees are the ultimate symbol of the yuletide and it is hard to imagine a world where it does not fill the air with holiday fragrance as soon as the cold season arrives.
While it is easy to just line up and get one, you must know what to get first in terms of type and tree characteristics that will keep up with the vibe of your home.
This is the reason why it is important for you to know all these types of Christmas trees that we covered for you.