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Holiday Trees

Tori Clark, Master Gardener

Tis the season. If your holiday decorating includes a fresh cut tree, here are some things to consider before selecting your tree and some tips to ensure it lasts throughout the season.

Holiday Trees

If your holiday decorating includes a fresh cut tree, there are some things to consider before selecting your tree and tips to ensure it lasts throughout the season. 


Most of the trees you will find at cut-your-own or pre-cut lots will be one of these four types:


Fraser fir trees have bright green, flattened needles; ½ to 1 inch long.  They have some of the best needle retention and a pleasant scent.  Fraser firs have strong branches which angle upward making them a great choice for heavier ornaments. 

Fraser fir

Balsam fir needles tend to be a little longer, about ¾" to 1 ½" .  The long-lasting needles are flat and rounded at the tip.  These firs have a dark green color and are very fragrant.

Balsam fir

Scotch pine has very stiff, dark green needles about one inch long. The needles will stay on the tree even when dry.

Scotch pine

White pines have soft, blue-green needles, 2 to 4 inches long, that will stay on throughout the holiday season.  The trees have a full appearance and are best suited to smaller ornaments.  White pines have little or no fragrance, but can have less allergic reactions compared to more fragrant trees.


White pine

Whether you are shopping at a pre-cut tree lot in town or cutting your own, make sure you have a good idea of the height and width the desired spot in your home can accommodate.  Also check your tree for freshness.  Trees are often cut weeks earlier, so make sure the needles are green and flexible and do not fall off when you run your hand over a branch. If you are not putting your tree up when you bring it home, keep it in a shaded unheated location.


A fresh cut to the trunk of your holiday tree will help it last through all of your holiday celebrations so remove 1-2” of the trunk then place the tree in a stand with water.  A good quality tree stand will hold one to two gallons of water.  Keep it filled with water for a long-lasting tree that is fragrant and doesn’t drop too many needles. Be sure to keep your tree away from heat sources like vents and fireplaces to reduce drying.


Look for resources in your community for recycling your tree after the holidays.

Photo credits: (1, 2), (3, 4)

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