Christmas Trees

Tuesday, 20 November 2007 | Tags: , , , ,

Love the aroma and atmosphere of a real Christmas tree but not the dead needles all over your floor? We learn about the different types of trees and get tips on how to make your tree last through the season.

The Basics

  • If you’re buying a real tree, you have a couple of options: the popular cut tree, for which you need a stand and daily maintenance, or a potted tree, gaining in popularity because they’re environmentally friendly and can be replanted later.

  • If you’re considering a potted tree, here are some good things to know:

    • Potted trees cost more than cut trees.

    • They’re also heavier, which means you may end up with a smaller tree than you would if you bought a cut one.

    • You could also substitute a potted outdoor tree for a large indoor plant like a palm, fig, or a smaller Norfolk pine. These will last indoors as long as you care for them, so the money you are spending is a long-term investment. These plants shouldn’t be too heavily decorated, however, or the branches may break.

  • If you’re buying a cut tree, different species have their pros and cons:

    • Douglas fir, often considered the classic Christmas tree, is popular for its price and needle retention. Douglas firs are dense and give ornaments a “nesting” look.

    • Spruce trees are also attractive but have very prickly needles, which can be a good deterrent if you have a cat that likes to climb. Spruce tend to drop their needles quickly, however.

    • Grand fir are very aromatic, but also drop their needles quickly, and usually will last only about 10 days.

    • Noble fir and Fraser fir have very good needle retention, sometimes up to 4 weeks. However, they are also typically the most expensive tree. They’re also more sparse-looking than Douglas fir, so the ornaments will hang freely rather than nesting.

  • Freshness of your cut tree is very important:

    • Ask the seller where the trees are from. If they’re local, they’re more likely to be fresh.

    • Tug firmly on one of the lower branches. If more than a couple needs fall off, it’s likely been there a while.


Other Considerations

  • For a cut tree, be sure you have a sturdy, wide stand so you don’t have any fallen over accidents.

  • When you bring a cut tree home, store it outside in a dry place until you’re ready to put it up. Make a fresh cut when you’re ready to put it up and put it directly into your tree stand with water. Keep the tree well hydrated, especially in the first 24 hours when it can absorb up to 1 gallon of water.

  • Always be safe with your cut trees:

    • Keep it away from stoves, fireplaces and heating vents so it won’t dry out as fast

    • Never string lights with empty sockets.

    • Never use more than 3 strings of lights on one extension cord

    • Always unplug the tree lights when you’re out of the room or sleeping.

  • An environmentally-friendly way to dispose of your cut tree is to take it to a local organization that has arranged to chip the trees and recycle them back into the environment.


We visited a few tree farms in search of the perfect 6-foot Christmas tree. We choose one from each species:

  • Douglas Fir: $30
  • Spruce: $65
  • Scotch Pine: $40
  • Grand Fir: $45
  • Noble Fir; $67
  • Fraser fir: $60


All of the trees got us in the spirit, and all had their unique decorative characteristics. If we had to pick one, it would be the Fraser fir for its natural two-tone look and wider-spaced branches, which showed off our decorations well. We also liked that it kept its needles for a long time.


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