University of Illinois Extension


John Church,
Extension Educator, Natural Resources
Rockford Extension Center

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Choosng a Christmas Tree Variety

Each year there seems to be more varieties to choose from for that perfect Christmas tree, including the popular, traditional Scotch pine. Other varieties are also becoming more prevalent, such as Fraser fir, Douglas fir, Norway spruce, white pine, blue spruce, and balsam fir. The varieties vary in characteristics, availability and price.

Fraser firs have been referred to as the "Cadillac of Christmas trees." The needles are flat, 1/2 to 1 inches, and have a rich, dark green color with a silvery underside. It has excellent color and needle retention characteristics. They tend to be "naturally-shaped" Christmas trees. Although becoming somewhat more prevalent, due to their limited production in this area and their high quality, they may be harder to find and higher priced than other varieties.

For a "full" appearing tree, white pines are often good. They are widely available in the Midwest. They have longer needles at 3 to 6 inches, and generally good needle color and retention.

The spruces are gaining in popularity, too. The needles tend to have good retention, and are shorter and stiffer than some of the other varieties. The spruce varieties often are popular when buying a live Christmas tree for planting in the yard after the holiday. Remember that live trees do need some special care for successful planting after the holidays.

The traditional favorite Scotch pine has 1 1/2 to 3 inch blue-green needles, which have a somewhat twisted appearance. The branches tend to be more open and stiffer than the white pine. Many people prefer it since it often is easier to hang ornaments on its branches. It is also often one of the most widely available and reasonably priced varieties.

Regardless of the variety of the tree, proper watering and keeping the tree’s location in the home as moist and cool as possible will help lengthen the tree's enjoyment and safety.

With all these choices, everyone should be able to find that "perfect tree." Buyers may want to take a day for a holiday outing to discover the different types of trees available and to make some consumer comparisons.


December 2000 - January 2001: Winter Gardening Tips | Plants and Light | Botrytis (Gray Mold): A Disease for Many Plants | Choosng a Christmas Tree Variety | Key Questions for Garden Catalogs

Past Issues

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