When choosing a Christmas tree do you have a favorite species or do you just go looking for a beautiful well-formed tree? If it is the latter you might find that your tree doesn’t hold up as well as you would like and by January 1st you have more needles on the floor than there are on the tree. Here is a look at the characteristics of some evergreens that are commonly sold as Christmas trees.
Spruces (Genus: Picea
Spruces make good Christmas tree with good needle retention except for the Norway spruce. The major problem with them is that they are very prickly and the branches are rough.
Colorado Blue Spruce… Needles will drop in a warm room but hold up well in cooler temperatures. Needles range in length from 1-3 inches and are very stiff and prickly. Colors range from deep green to silvery blue.
Norway Spruce… Needles drop quickly. Don’t be fooled by the attractive appearance of this tree. They use this one in Rockefeller Center and it is probably best used as an outdoor tree.
White Spruce…Similar in appearance to the blue spruce, it holds its needles well but has a somewhat unpleasant odor.
Firs (Genus: Abies) Firs are generally the most commonly sold Christmas trees. They are chosen for their fragrance. Most have good needle retention.
Balsam Fir… The most fragrant of these with a short flat needle that holds up well. The trees are dark green with a silvery cast.
White Fir or Concolor Fir…Needles are ½ to 1 ½ inches long and are of a blue- green color. The tree has a nice aroma and good needle retention.
Douglas Fir…Dark green to blue in color. Holds its needles well and is usually a very bushy tree. Not a true fir it’s a different genus Pseudotsuga menziesii.
Pines (Genus: Pinus) Count the needles in the bundles in which they grow to identify the kind of pine. Scotch pines have two stiff needles per bundle while white pines have long soft needles in bunches of five.
Scotch Pine… Dark green in color, fragrant and needles hold for 4 weeks. They do not drop even when dry.
White Pine…Retains its long blue-green needles well but is non-fragrant. A bushy tree but the long flexible branches to not hold heavy ornaments well.
When you get your tree home recut the trunk. This will help the tree take up water better. Just like flower stems the capillaries close and the trunk cannot absorb water when the cut is not fresh. Put the tree in very hot water for the initial watering. Hot water is absorbed better. Make sure your stand is clean to prevent clogging of the capillaries. Never let your tree go dry or it will cease to absorb water. The hot water treatment is only necessary for the first watering.
Oh, I left out one.
Plastic (Genus: Fakus)
Multiple Varieties …. Superb needle retention. They will still be on the tree next year even if you are prone to hang Easter eggs on it. Non-allergenic, non-messy, never harbor bugs or wildlife. And best of all they never have a pesky bare spot that wasn’t there when you bought the tree.