Christmas Tree Closeup

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree…Your Guide to the Perfect Tree

How lovely are thy branches?

…but wait, what are those branches? What is that tree? If you are like us and can’t tell one tree from the next, here’s a brief tutorial so you can tree shop like a pro.

Christmas Tree Ornament
photo: Pexels

Douglas Fir

As the most plentiful in our forests, the Douglas Fir will also be the most affordable tree. Available in uncultured or cultured varieties, these trees have floppier branches and soft needles that radiate in all directions.   The uncultured tree is not shaped into a perfect triangle shape but is beautiful in its authenticity – it looks like a tree plucked from the forest (a.k.a Charlie Brown Tree)!  This variety will be the least expensive. The cultured Douglas Fir has been clipped and preened into triangular perfection and is bushier in appearance.

Fraser Fir

Frasers are a premium tree with aromatic and hearty branches that turn slightly upward. The foliage is lush but the needles are soft so less prickly for kids and animals in the home.  Needle retention is very good so all you keeners who put your tree up December 1 will still enjoy the Fraser well past Christmas.

Fraser Fir Christmas Tree with Dog on Couch
Photo: Fraser Fir tree by The Painted Hive

Noble Fir

The silvery Noble fir is beautiful. Taller and narrower, it boasts blueish green needles that turn upward revealing a silvery undercoat. It is known for it’s ‘keep’ ability so needles should stay on the tree for weeks. The branches are stiff and can support heavier ornaments and garlands and are also ideal for wreaths and garland. They are also spaced nicely and vary in length making for a more naturalistic appearance.

Minimalist Noble Fir Christmas Tree
Photo: Noble Fir from Frontgate

Balsam Fir

The Balsam Fir is very fragrant and a deeper green than other options. Its natural, pyramidal shape is ideal with long lower branches tapering nicely toward the top of the tree. Branches are nicely spaced allowing for easy bauble placement.

Balsam Fir Christmas Tree
Photo: Mourad Saadi @unsplash

Grand Fir

As its name suggests, this is the tree for grand rooms with high ceilings and peaked roofs. The grand fir is one of the tallest firs and can reach heights up to 300 feet!   It is also distinguished by unique sprays of lustrous needles in two distinct rows.

Buying the Tree

Trees are typically priced by foot but in some places they are priced by tree variety e.g. Douglas Firs = $30 and Noble Firs = $80.

When choosing any tree, you’ll want the freshest possible to ensure a long run right through December.  Pay attention to the following:

  • Avoid trees with withered bark on the outer branches as that indicates dryness.
  • Avoid pine trees with brittle needles that break off easily as they are dehydrated.
  • Select fir trees with needles that snap crisply when bent; in their case, this indicates hydration.
  • Examine trees for insects and other pests.
  • Make sure tree lot attendant makes a minimum 1” fresh cut off the trunk for optimal freshness and get your tree into water as soon as possible.

Remember too, don’t feel guilty for buying a real tree. They have all been purposely cultivated at tree farms in BC. In addition, they can be chipped and recycled for mulch. Buying a real tree supports family-owned businesses and often helps charities and schools raise money for worthy causes.

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