Shopping for Christmas trees? Shouldn’t be all that difficult, right? After all, Christmas trees are pretty much the same, aren’t they? Actually there are several different evergreen trees grown for use as Christmas trees. Here is a guide to choosing Christmas trees, based on style, allergic properties, ease of decorating and cost. This author’s hometown of Grand Haven, Michigan is Christmas Tree Central, so you’re getting this info from the “roots”–so to speak. Starting with less expensive, here are evergreen tree choices.
Scotch pine: These are the cheapest Christmas trees. Scotch pine usually have a crooked trunk and a more rounded body. The branches do not typically line up to form that pristine, triangle-shaped tree. Scotch pine give off a nice fragrance but the needles are very sharp. The branches are also quite close together and it is difficult to get holiday decorations to hang properly. The branches often bow upward also. This adds to tree trimming difficulties. Scotch pine can cause allergic reactions and skin sensitivities. If you don’t mind a slightly irregularly Charlie Brown Christmas trees and having to wear long sleeves and gloves to decorate, then choose the Scotch pine. It is the frugal choice.
Blue spruce: Blue spruce are the most common Christmas trees in the United States. Blue spruce have silvery, blue-green needles, a wonderfully straight trunk and straight, evenly spaced branches. The blue spruce forms a picture-perfect triangle and the branches are far enough apart to hang ornaments and holiday decorations. While the needles aren’t particularly soft, blue spruce do not prick when you touch them. They are sturdy and can handle any holiday decorations you throw at them! And of course spruce smells like winter heaven.
Douglas or Frasier Fir: The fir tree is a favored for Christmas trees in Northern Europe. A fir tree is quite expensive but absolutely gorgeous. The fir tree has short, widely-spaced soft needles. Fir tree branches are not as evenly spaced as the blue spruce and they are somewhat closer together. The branches are delicate and heavier holiday decorations may fall off, so use lightweight ornaments. The tree has that perfect triangle shape, but you will pay through your shiny red reindeer nose for a fir tree!
Eastern Hemlock: Not a typical evergreen tree choice for Christmas trees, eastern hemlock are difficult to find. But this enchanting evergreen makes an excellent Christmas tree. If you have property or know someone with woodland acreage, look for eastern hemlock. Eastern hemlock grows in back dune and old growth forests. Hemlock needles are soft, short and widely spaced. It’s a delicate evergreen tree with feather-like branches and a slim trunk. It’s best to purchase a small hemlock and plant it for enjoyment year-round.
Norfolk Island Pine: This is the most delicate evergreen tree used as Christmas trees. They can handle only the lightest of ornaments without drooping. Branches resemble ferns and soft needled. Typically, Norfolk Island pine are sold live as small table-top Christmas trees.
Cedar: This elegant evergreen tree has the bewitching odor of old things saved. Cedar is a majestic lord among evergreen trees. Cedars have an irregular shape and more frequently used for decorative boughs, swags and wreaths. Cedars are the perfect tree for Dickensian, Victorian or medieval style Christmas. Vintage holiday decorations look gorgeous on cedar.
Cypress: This exotic swampland evergreen tree smells delightful and would make a charming Christmas tree. But cypress grown in Florida and Louisiana swamps. Roots must remain in water to survive. They are not easy to cut down and it’s probably illegal to do so. So decorate cypress for outdoor Christmas trees if you have any on your property!