Which Christmas tree to choose?

It is now the season to choose a real Christmas tree for the holidays. Choices are many and can be confusing. Most people pay little attention to which type (species or variety) of tree to select. Instead, cost, overall appearance of the tree, and availability of the type of tree are generally the deciding factors.

The type of tree selected, of course, depends on what one is looking for. Do they want the tree to last a very long time, or is that fresh “Christmas” smell more important? Are small children involved in decorating? If so, avoid trees with sharp needles. If cats are a problem, sharp needles may be just what you are looking for. To help choose which tree would be best, take a look at the most common types one can buy.

• Balsam Fur—For the traditionalist, this is the only “true” Christmas tree. Balsam Fur is the number one Christmas tree grown. They have short, flat needles that are green on top and silvery-white below. The needles are soft, and their retention is good, lasting about three weeks. Balsam is best known for its great fragrance.

• Frazier Fur—This is the southern cousin to the Balsam Fir which originated from North Carolina. It is similar to the Balsam Fir except it is less fragrant, and its needle retention is a little better.

• White Fir—The white fir is relatively new to the area. It’s much more popular out West. The needles are more upright and are soft to touch. Color is usually a very nice blue-green. Needle retention is fair to good, but it is not as fragrant as the Balsam Fir.

• Douglas Fir—It is one of the most popular trees throughout the United States. The needles are short and not too sharp, with a deep-green, blue-green color. Its claim to fame is its excellent needle retention. The Douglas Fir has been known to be fresh clear into February! Due to demand and difficulty in growing in the north, this tree can be one of the more expensive ones and the most difficult to find.

• Scotch Pine—Probably one of the more popular pine trees of choice. They have very good needle retention, and they have a nice full shape. The color can range from green to blue-green to yellow-green. Needles tend to be short (around one-inch) and only slightly sharp.

• White Pine—Locally, this is a favorite Christmas tree, where the needles are long and soft. White pine trees need to be sheared heavily or they tend to be sparse or open in shape. Needle retention is good lasting a couple of weeks. It is popular for its softness and great pine fragrance.

• Colorado “Blue” Spruce—The Colorado Spruce is quite popular, especially those with blue ice-blue coloring. However, the needles are very sharp, and the tree is difficult to decorate. Needle retention is fair for two to three weeks.

• Norway Spruce—Norways are popular for their shape and lower price due to its speedier growth. Needles are short and sharp with a rich green color. The tree also has a very nice fragrance when fresh. Unfortunately, needle retention is very poor. Needles begin to fall within a week. At best, the tree will only last two weeks.

• White Spruce—A native with a great natural shape and deep woodsy fragrance with fair needle retention.

For those interested in enjoying a day in the fresh country air, consider a cut-your-own Christmas tree or buy a precut tree at your local farmstand. There are several cut-your-own Christmas growers available for you to select the perfect Christmas tree.

Remember, in order for the tree to maintain its freshness, the water will need to be checked daily.

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