How to pick the perfect Christmas tree for your home

By Chaffin Mitchell, AccuWeather staff writer

There are many different species of trees to choose from when picking your ideal Christmas tree, so it's important to know the different characteristics of each type to find the perfect match for you.


Before you leave home, measure not only your ceiling height, but also the height of your Christmas tree stand as well. That way you won't have to cut the tree when you bring it home.

The needles should look shiny, green and fresh, and they should not fall off when you pull on a branch. Avoid trees with brown or dry needles.

A Fraser fir holds needles well and stays fresh longer than many other species. Meanwhile, Douglas firs are packed with small branches for a full figure.

A Balsam fir stays fragrant all season long. To see if a fir is fresh, you can bend a needle in half with your fingers. If the needle snaps, then it is a fresh fir.

A Colorado blue spruce has strong branches and silvery blue needles, while a white pine has soft, feathery needles and almost no smell. Fresh white pine needles do not break or snap.


Colorado blue spruce. (Photo/Pixabay)

If you have children or animals, pines or firs with soft needles might be a better choice compared to spruce trees. Spruces have sharp needles that could hurt when touched or stepped on.

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AccuWeather interviewed expert Tchukki Andersen, a board certified master arborist and certified tree care safety professional with the Tree Care Industry Association, to find out how to pick the perfect tree.

Which type of Christmas trees are fullest in appearance?

Andersen: It’s not so much the type of tree as the pruning method they used as the tree grows that give the full appearance.

You’ll find noble fir or grand fir (native to the Pacific Northwest) that are “open grown” which give a clear structure of the branches. These trees look more like natural trees found in the woods.

However, Fraser fir or Norway spruce trees that have been sheared for shape will have a strong conical form and very closed branching system. These trees are typically found at roadside tree vendors. They also tend to be difficult to decorate for some.

Which trees have the sturdiest branches for hanging ornaments?

Andersen: I would try to find an open grown or open branched fir, spruce or pine tree. Look for thicker branch attachments where the branch goes into the trunk.

As long as you aren’t trying to hang a grand piano on it, the open branching patterned trees should allow for some creative decoration ideas.

Which trees hold the strongest scent?

Andersen: I like the grand firs and Balsam firs. Pines will also give a nice scent but might not be as strong as the firs.

Is there a species that lasts longer through the whole holiday season?

Andersen: The longevity of a holiday tree will be mostly reliant on the quality of the tree when you buy it and how you store it during its service in your home.

Do you have any tips for buyers at the tree lot?

Andersen: Pick a tree that has green needles to ensure a longer life span in your house. Give it a shake at the tree lot. If a bunch of needles fall out, that tree is probably already on its last stand.

Tips for once you select your perfect Christmas tree

Once you pick your ideal tree, ask an employee at the Christmas tree lot to cut off about a half inch from the bottom of the tree's trunk or cut it when you get home. The fresh cut will absorb more water, so your tree holds its needles and keeps its color longer. Put the tree in water as soon as you can after it is cut.

To avoid wind damage when driving, arrange the tree on the car roof so that the stump faces the front of your vehicle.

Even though it might look nice, it is best not to put the Christmas tree close to a fireplace because the heat will dry out the tree faster.

To find a Christmas Tree farm or retailers near you, use the new NCTA Real Christmas Tree Locator.

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