Every Christmas, unsuspecting families wander onto the Christmas tree farm or fresh-cut lot. Faced with pines, firs, and spruces, which is which and does it matter?

Let’s look at most common choices:
Firs are the most aromatic species, with flat round needles that tend to last up to a month. Fir types include Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir, Concolor Fir, Balsam Fir and Canaan Fir. Colors range from gray to dark green.

Norway Spruce and Blue Spruce are usually most available to the US Rocky Mountain region.
Spruce trees have sharp diamond-shaped needles. Blue Spruce tends to hold its needles up to 3 weeks. Norway Spruce starts losing its needles the fastest of all Christmas trees, about 1 week. Spruces range in color from blue-green to dark green.

Pines have long slender needles grouped in bundles along the branches. Pines have good needle retention and range in color from light green to blue-green. Favorite pines are Scotch Pine and White Pine.


  • Before you leave your home, select and measure the area where you plan to put your tree. Keep in mind the height the stand and top ornament will add. Will all 4 sides be displayed? How heavy are your ornaments?
  • Pick a fresh tree. The needles should be pliable. Only a few needles will fall off when shaken. Some dead area near the center is natural due to lack of light as the tree matures. Check the bottom. Is it sticky or dried out?

Care at Home:

  • Cut the base and trim off any branches or knots needed to fit the trunk into stand.
  • Fill with plain water. No additives are needed. The key to keeping a tree fresh is never letting the butt dry out. Once the butt dries, a natural process starts that heals over the cut and the tree stops taking in water. If this happens, cut the bottom. A 6 foot tree will absorb about a quart of water a day.
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