Evergreen Christmas Tree Guide: What is the best?

Decorated outdoor Christmas tree lit up.

When shopping for a Christmas tree at your local lot or tree farm, you’ll likely encounter many different types of evergreen Christmas trees. Picking out a perfect tree isn’t easy. A tree’s scent, color, strength of branches, shape, height and needle retention all matter. Depending on where you live will determine what type of trees are the most popular evergreen for Christmas trees. There are so many choices, it can be quite daunting! Our evergreen Christmas tree guide will help you decide what is best for you.

FIR TREES

Balsam Fir – Abies Balsamea

Branch of the Blasam Fir tree showing the short needles.

  • Dark Green in color
  • Strong branches- perfect for decorating
  • Has a strong fragrance
  • Excellent needle retention

The balsam fir is highly desirable for its conical shape, dense branching, and stellar needle retention. They are commonly used for wreaths and Christmas bouquets due to their strong fragrance. This variety is small- to medium-sized and grows to heights of up to 66 feet tall, from Alberta, CA down to Pennsylvania, US. Also, makes for a great statement piece in one’s landscape design.

Canaan Fir – Abies Balsamea

Cannan fir branch

  • Deep dark green in color
  • Strong branches
  • Has a mild fragrance

Like the Fraser and Balsam fir, the Canaan fir is known as the hybrid of the two. Canaan fir is a medium-growing evergreen tree that features excellent needle retention, like the Fraser. Leaves are flat and needle-like, with a deep dark green color. The Canaan fir is native to the mountains of West Virginia and has been growing in popularity as a Christmas tree.

Concolor Fir – Abies Concolor

Needles of the mature concolor white fir tree.

  • Beautiful bluish green in color
  • Strong branches
  • Medium lemon fragrance

The Concolor fir a.k.a White fir, is known for its flat, needle-like leaves with pointed tips. Young Concolor fir features more bluish-green colored leaves, which turn into a duller green color as they age. The Concolor fir can grow up to 195 feet tall with strong branches for decorating. This fir is heartier than the other firs listed here, thus can tolerate a missed watering.

Douglas Fir – Pseudotsuga Menziesii

Douglas fir branch with new growth.

  • Rich dark green to blueish in color (the darkest of all the firs mentioned here)
  • Strong branches
  • Has a strong sweet but pleasant fragrance

The Douglas fir makes up nearly half of all Christmas trees grown in the United States. They provide a full traditional pyramid shape with blue or dark green leaves that have one of the richest scents of all the Christmas trees. Leaves of this evergreen are flat, soft and tend to grow in bunches. Ensure it always has enough water, otherwise it will quickly start dropping needles. Douglas firs grow incredibly tall, from medium-sized to up to 330 feet tall. The Douglas fir has been one of the top Christmas trees in America since the 1920’s.

Fraser Fir – Abies Fraseri

Frasier fire tree short stubby needle foliage.

  • Medium yellow/green in color
  • Strong branches
  • Has a strong fragrance
  • Fantastic needle retention

The Fraser fir features a conical shape with strong branches that angle slightly upward and a classic evergreen scent. The yellow/green leaves are needle-like, with fantastic needle retention and spiral along the trunk of the tree, giving off a fragrant scent. Fraser firs typically grow up to 50 feet tall. A White House favorite!

Grand Fir – Abies Grandis

Grand fir branch in deep green. The underside has a white stripe down the middle.

  • Medium green/yellow in color
  • Strong branches
  • Has a strong fragrance

The Grand fir is a large tree native to the Pacific Northwest and Northern California, where they can grow up to 230 feet tall. The Grand fir features bicolored needles, yellow-green in color and a white stripe beneath the needle. This tree has thick foliage and gives off that wonderful Christmas tree fragrant.

Noble Fir – Abies Procera

Noble fir tree branch with short needles.

  • Deep green to silvery-blue in color
  • Strong branches
  • Has a strong fragrance

Noble firs are yet another popular Christmas tree! The dense branches are evenly spaced along the trunk of this evergreen tree. Perfect for wreathes and holding heavy ornaments. Grown in the Pacific Northwest, the Noble fir has needle-like leaves that curve upward and can grow up to 260 feet.

SPRUCES

Blue Spruce – Picea Pungens

Blue spruce tree needles.

  • Silvery blue in color
  • Strong branches
  • Has a strong fragrance

My favorite to use as a Christmas tree! The blue spruce a.k.a Colorado blue spruce, is known for its waxy gray-blue needles that curve upwards, perfect for holding ornaments. Native to the Rocky Mountains of the United States, this spruce tree features dense foliage that grows in a conical shape up to 75 feet tall.

Norway Spruce – Picea Abies

Norway spruce branches showing new growth.

  • Rich green color
  • Strong branches
  • Medium scented
  • Poor needle retention

The Norway spruce is most notably a species of spruce that is native to Europe, but commonly grown in the U.S. They are a fast-growing coniferous evergreen tree that can grow up to 180 feet tall. Its leaves are needle-like and feature a rich green color with pointed tips. Unfortunately, Needle retention of the Norway spruce is poor, so it’s important to take proper care of your tree and water it correctly.

White Spruce – Picea Glauca

White spruce branch with mature cones.

  • Beautiful bluish green in color, almost looks whitish in certain lighting
  • Sturdy branches
  • Medium Fragrance

The White spruce, commonly referred to as the Canadian spruce, the western White spruce and a few other names. Their needle-like bluish green leaves that are short and stubby, but the branches are not the best for decorating. The White spruce species is a large tree that grows to heights of up to 130 feet tall. Not the best smelling of the spruces.

CEDAR TREES

Deodar Cedar-Cedrus Deodara

Deodar cedar branches.

  • Dark green in color
  • Flexible branches
  • Medium fragrant

Famously known as the “Grinch” tree in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, this tree adds a whimsical tone to Christmas. Overall it has a pyramid shape but the branches are highly flexible, giving it the “droopy” look when decorated with ornaments. Definitely a statement piece straight out of “Whoville”!

Red Cedar– Juniperus Virginiana

Red cedar branch with berries.

  • Shiny dark green in color
  • Strong branches
  • Strongly scented

The Red cedar, also commonly referred to as the Eastern red cedar, Pencil cedar and Aromatic cedar. The leaves point upwards and are a dark, shiny green color. Branches of this cedar variety are dense and form a pyramid-like shape. Red cedars are slow-growing but, they have been recorded at heights of over 40 feet tall. This cedar tree is most used as a Christmas tree in Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

CYPRESS TREES

Blue Ice Arizona Cypress – Cupressus Arizonica var. Glabra

Blue Ice Arizona Cypress branches showing the beautiful blue-green and whitish needles.

  • Beautiful silvery blue in color
  • Strong branches
  • Medium fragrance

The Blue Ice Arizona cypress is native to the Southwestern United States but, is the rarer variety of Arizona cypress. The leaves of the Arizona cypress are a silvery blue color on branches that grow in a conical shape. It is a medium-sized evergreen tree that can grow up to 60 feet tall.

Leyland Cypress – Cupressus x Leylandii

Leyland cypress branch.

  • Medium green in color
  • Strong branches
  • Fragrant free
  • No Pollen or sap

One of the most popular Christmas trees in the Southeast! The Leyland cypress has feathery leaves that are green in color with a pyramid-like shape. The Leyland cypress is fragrant free, perfect for those with allergies. This fast-growing tree will grow up to heights of 70 feet tall. If you have allergies, this is the tree to pick, it does not produce pollen or sap. They are also widely used as living fences for privacy screening. Check out our current Leyland Cypress pricing and sizes.

PINE TREES

Scotch Pine – Pinus Sylvestris L.

Scotch pine branch with new green cones.

  • Lush dark green
  • Strong branches
  • Medium scented
  • Long needle retention

The Scotch pine a.k.a scots pine, (the national tree of Scotland) has blue-green to dark green needles and sturdy branches, perfect for Christmas lights and decorations. The scotch pine is known for its long-term needle retention, an important aspect for Christmas trees. This pine tree can grow up to 115 feet tall.

White Pine – Pinus Strobus

White pine branches with long thin needles.

  • Stunning light blue/green color
  • Flexible branches
  • Light on fragrance

The White pine are the largest pines in the United States and feature needles that grown in blue/green bundles with pointed tips. It is not recommended for heavy ornaments or large decorations because the branches are not as strong. White pine trees can live up to 400 years and grow to heights of about 230 feet tall.

Virginia Pine – Pinus Virginiana

Virginia pine branch with small cone.

  • Beautiful green in color
  • Sturdy branches
  • Light to medium fragrance

The Virginia pine, also known as the Jersey pine, Possum one or scrub pine, can be easily identified due to its short and twisted needles that grow in pairs from 1.5” – 3” in length. This Virginia pine tree features short branches with dense foliage. The Virginia pine is known as a small to medium-sized tree that can grow up to approximately 59 feet tall and 20-35 feet wide. Aside from being the most popular Christmas tree in the south, they make good nesting sites for woodpeckers and used regularly for reforestation projects. A great choice for small rooms.

An eco-friendly evergreen Christmas tree option, instead of a fresh cut tree, would be a live tree with the roots wrapped that can be planted after the holiday season is over. It will be heavier than a cut tree and have the same watering requirements but, can be given new life in your yard, park etc. Another option would be to go with any of the numerous artificial trees on the market today. Artificial trees can be a good alternative for those with allergies but does require storage space the rest of the year.

Whatever tree you choose this year, remember to recycle your tree afterwards. Happy Holidays!🎄