Best Christmas Tree Types and Varieties for Happy Holidays
Let’s learn the different types and varieties of Christmas trees, so you can pick one that is perfect for you.
A real evergreen Christmas tree will make a festive and fragrant addition to your home and create an enchanting holiday atmosphere. But what Christmas tree types are available?
Which Christmas tree varieties among those types are right for your needs?
How do you pick the best Christmas tree for the holidays?
If you already know what you are looking for in a Christmas tree, the table below will help you make a quick and easy decision.
Best real Christmas trees:
Most long lasting: Nordmann fir, Concolor fir, Frazer Fir
Most aromatic: Balsam fir (traditional Christmas tree scent), Concolor fir (citrus scent). Norway spruce
Most popular: Fraser fir
Most affordable: White pine, Douglas fir
Most readily available: Fraser fir
Best for heavy ornaments: Colorado blue spruce, Noble fir
Best for allergies: Leyland Cypress, White pine
The most spectacular silver-blue Christmas tree: Colorado blue spruce
Interested in finding out more about real Christmas tree types and varieties available in the USA for purchase or for growing in your own backyard?
Then continue reading.
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IN THIS POST
4 main types of Christmas trees
FIR CHRISTMAS TREES
- Fraser fir
- Concolor fir
- Balsam fir
- Nordmann fir
- Noble fir
- Grand fir
- Canaan fi
SPRUCE CHRISTMAS TREES
- Colorado blue spruce
- White spruce
- Norway spruce
- Black Hills spruce
PINE CHRISTMAS TREES
- White pine
- Scots (Scotch) pine
- Douglas fir (Douglas pine)
- Virginia pine
CYPRESS and JUNIPER CHRISTMAS TREES
- Leyland cypress
- Arizona cyprus
- Eastern redcedar
Where can you get a real Christmas tree? 5 options
Best resource for finding a real Christmas tree near you
How much does a real Christmas tree cost?
When should you get a real tree for Christmas?
Types of Christmas Trees
There are 4 main types of needle evergreen that people use for Christmas in the US: fir, spruce, pine and cypress.
Let’s see what sets them apart.
Fir trees are a perfect choice if you like less decoration. The flat individual needles grow straight from the branch giving fir trees a lush, robust appearance and creating minimal space for ornaments. In general, firs have good needle retention and pleasant aroma.
Spruce tree needles are short, 4-sided with a pointed, sharp edge. They are also attached individually to the branch, just like in firs. The branches are upturned which creates a beautiful Christmas tree shape. In general, spruce can hold more decorations and more heavy ornaments than fir trees. Their needle retention is not great though. And they do not have as strong aroma as fir trees or some pines.
Pine trees have long soft needles that grow in bunches with fewer branches, providing lots of room to hang ornaments. Depending on pine variety, the branches can be strong or weak and unstable for holding heavy decorations. The same goes for aroma. Some pine varieties are aromatic and some are not.
Cypress and Juniper trees belong to the same family – Cupressaceae. They are more used for a Christmas tree in the Southern USA. They have small scale-like leaves, which gives them a unique look. As far as aroma goes – it depends on tree variety: some are very aromatic, and some do not have smell at all.
Now let’s take a closer look at available varieties within each Christmas tree type.
FIR CHRISTMAS TREES
1. Fraser Fir (Abies Fraseri)
When you are in doubt which Christmas tree to get – go for a Fraser fir! You can buy it from Lowes delivered to your door!
Did you know that Fraser fir is the most popular commercially grown Christmas tree in the United States and considered an American classic for Christmas?
And it’s not surprising, because Fraser fir trees are affordable, beautiful, have an excellent, strong and persistent aroma, and they can last indoors for 5 weeks after being cut. A perfect choice for decorating your home during the holiday season!
Fraser fir tree has a regular conical shape with pronounced symmetry. Fir branches are located randomly, therefore, the tree looks very fluffy and full. The needles are of medium length, blue-green on the top and silvery underneath. It has excellent needle retention and strong branches to hold ornaments.
Fraser fir is native to the Southeastern United States Smoky Mountains. You can grow it in zones 4 -7 as an ornamental yard tree.
Read related: Best solar Christmas lights
2. Concolor Fir (Abies concolor)
If you want a long lasting Christmas tree, then consider Concolor Fir.
Concolor Fir (commonly called White Fir) is native to the Western United States. When young, the tree grows in an almost perfect pyramidal shape with tiered horizontal branches that make it great for a Christmas Tree. The tree has a pleasant citrus smell. The longer silvery blue-green needles that may be compared by color to blue spruce, and smooth grey bark of the trunk are perfect for adding natural warmth to any room in the house!
Concolor Fir will grow in zones 3-7.It’s a slow grower and can be a perfect choice for your landscape, as long as the area doesn’t get too moist from irrigation of nearby lawns.
3. Balsam fir (Abies balsamea)
Balsam fir is best known for its strong pleasant scent that the tree retains throughout the Christmas season. It’s the most fragrant Christmas tree of all!
Balsam fir is a narrow, pyramidal, evergreen conifer with a spire-like crown and flattened, shiny, dark green needles that are about 1” long. Balsam fir is similar to Fraser fir but its branches grow closer which gives the tree a fuller appearance, though the branches are weaker, and needles feel soft in comparison with Fraser fir. It has excellent needle retention too.
4. Nordmann fir (Abies nordmanniana)
Nordmann Fir (also known as Caucasian fir) is a popular New Year and Christmas tree in the US and many European countries. This beautiful evergreen has soft, long needles with rich green color. The needles will not fall off even when the tree dries out! A Nordmann Fir can stay fresh for 5 weeks – so you’ll be able to decorate your home well before Christmas day arrives.
5. Noble fir (Abies nobilis)
Noble fir is native to Western US, so it’s no wonder that this is a popular Christmas tree choice in the Western part of the United States. This tree has soft blue needles, strong branches for holding heavy ornaments, good needle retention, and pleasant aroma. What’s not to love!
6. Grand fir (Abies Grandis)
This is another popular Christmas tree variety on the Western coast of the U.S. because it’s native to the area. It’s known for its sweet citrus like fragrance. The needles of grand fir are flat, dark green on the top and silvery underneath. The needle retention is fair, but not as great in comparison with Nordmann or Fraser fir.
7. Canaan Fir (Abies balsamea var phanerolepis)
Not so readily available as other firs, but nonetheless a great choice for a Christmas tree, Canaan fir has a perfect conical shape with strong branches. The needle color is deep green. Aroma is pleasant, but not strong.
SPRUCE CHRISTMAS TREES
8. Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea pungens)
Colorado Blue spruce trees are a popular choice for Christmas, because their powdery blue needles give this dense pyramidal tree a beautiful blue color. When you see this tree all you can think of is a magical White Christmas. Horizontal branches on these trees hold ornaments well. The tree also has good needle retention and pleasant aroma.
I just need to point out that the needles of blue spruce are short and quite sharp, which is why you should always wear gloves and long sleeves while handling this tree. Yet some people like this quality and choose this type of Christmas tree in order to keep pets away from it during holiday time.
You can grow your own Colorado blue spruce if you live in USDA zones 1-7. It looks stunning in the landscape! And you can even conveniently buy a real live Colorado Blue Spruce tree in a 10″ pot from Amazon delivered to your home or opt for a beautiful specimen from Nature Hills.
9. White spruce (Picea glauca)
White spruce is a type of conifer tree that grows in North America. It’s usually used for a Christmas tree because of its dense appearance and perfect pyramidal form. White spruce has short blunt needles and better needle retention than other spruces. The drawback of this specimen is unpleasant aroma when needles are crushed.
10. Norway spruce (Picea abies)
Norway spruce is a popular species of Christmas tree around the world. It has spread dark green needles that are perfect for hanging ornaments and lights. The needle retention is not that great, but the scent of this tree is heavenly – it has the traditional fresh scent of a conifer tree that people associate with Christmas. Norway spruce also costs less than a Fraser fir or Nordmann fir.
11. Black Hills Spruce (Picea glauca Densata)
The Black Hills spruce is a great alternative to Colorado blue spruce. It’s denser and more compact, with softer needles which means less prickliness! The needle color varies from deep green to blue-green giving it an elegant yet versatile charm.
PINE CHRISTMAS TREES
12. White Pine (Pinus strobus L.)
If you have a high ceiling and want to buy a tall Christmas tree without spending a fortune, White pine can be a good option. White pine is the largest pine in the USA. It has lots of bluish green soft needles so densely arranged that the tree looks good even without much decoration. The needle retention is very good.
The branches of White pine bend easily, so you should go with lightweight ornaments only. Another drawback is that White pine doesn’t have much smell, so if you are looking for a Christmas tree with a strong aroma, this evergreen conifer is not a good fit. Though it’s an excellent choice for people with allergies.
13. Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris)
The hardy Scots Pine (also known as Scotch pine) is good for your budget. Its dark-green needles, stiff branches and excellent needle retention make this tree a good choice for Christmas. The only downside to this tree – the smell isn’t as nice as a fir!
Nearly 30% of Christmas trees produced worldwide are of the Scotch Pine variety.
14. Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
A Douglas fir is not actually a fir. This coniferous tree, native to North America, belongs to the Pine family and is also known as “Oregon pine” or “Douglas spruce.” As other pines, it has soft, springy, delicate, light green evergreen needles that branch out and fan upwards.
It can be difficult to hang heavier ornaments on Douglas fir branches, so make sure you stick with lighter-weight ones! If you’re looking for something budget conscious, this tree can be a good choice because it will last about 4 weeks indoors and is less expensive overall.
15. Virginia Pine (Pinus virginiana)
Virginia pines are used as Christmas trees in parts of the South. They look great with their long needles that are soft and green. This tree is popular because it smells nice and fresh, and also looks good even without ornaments.
CYPRESS and JUNIPER CHRISTMAS TREES
16. Leland Cypress (Cupressocyparis leylandii)
Leyland cypress is a very popular tree in the Southeast United States. In fact, it’s nicknamed the “Southeastern Christmas Tree.” The foliage of the Leyland cypress can vary from dark green to gray. The cut tree has very little aroma and doesn’t produce sap, that is why it has become a popular choice of Christmas tree for people with allergies.
17. Arizona Cypress (Cupressus arizonica Greene)
Native to Southwestern US, Arizona cypress grows in a pyramidal shape and makes a perfect landscape tree, windbreak, and Christmas tree. It has a pleasant lemon-mint smell. It’s scale-like foliage is greenish gray, dense, soft and very aromatic.
18. Eastern Redcedar (Juniperus virginiana L.)
Interestingly, Eastern redcedar trees are not actually cedar. They’re junipers. The Eastern redcedar is native to the Eastern US and grows in USDA zones 2-9: from Canada to Florida and Texas. It has a nice pyramidal shape and compact branches. The leaves are dark green and shiny.
This tree smells great, but the foliage is prickly, so do not forget to wear gloves if you decide to decorate this tree for Christmas.
How much does a real Xmas tree cost?
According to consumer survey :
- 26.2 million real Christmas trees were purchased in 2019
- The median price of real Christmas trees purchased by survey respondents was $76.87 in 2019, and $81 in 2020.
Getting real Christmas trees: your options
- Pre-cut Christmas tree (at a local retail lot near supermarkets, hardware stores, garden centers etc.).
- U-pick or Choose & Cut farm.
- Fresh cut real Christmas tree delivered to your door (online purchase).
- Potted Christmas tree, also called “living Christmas tree” that you can plant into your backyard after holidays.
- Decorated live tabletop Christmas tree.
If you choose convenience this year (options 3-5), I have a dedicated article with useful information.
Where to find a real Christmas tree near you?
The best resource for finding a real Christmas tree in your area is a tree locator map created by the National Christmas Tree Association. Check it out!
When should I buy my Christmas tree?
There is no need to buy any variety of Christmas tree before the start of December. If you want a tree that stands the longest and will not drop needles – then go for fir trees like Nordmann fir, or Concolor fir and get it in the beginning of December.
If you want to buy a spruce tree – wait till middle of December.
Pin for later reference!
Final thoughts on Christmas tree types and varieties
The best way to create the festive spirit in your house during a holiday season is by bringing in an evergreen Christmas tree for decoration. But with so many types of Xmas trees to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which type is best for you.
I hope this article helped you learn more about 18 different Christmas tree varieties available in the US so that now you know what kind of evergreen conifers are the best trees for Xmas
and will work for your home. Maybe you will even get inspired and decide to plant an evergreen tree variety in your backyard to enjoy a beautiful specimen for years to come. No matter what you choose, let your Christmas tree bring you joy and happiness!
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