Choosing A Christmas Tree

Posted: December 8, 2014

Do you need some guidance in choosing a Christmas tree?

Trying to decide artificial or real?

As another holiday season approaches, here are some considerations to guide you:

  • In general, artificial trees are easier to manage and are less messy than real ones. They are also hypoallergenic. Artificial trees can be used for many years to come, spreading their cost out. They never need watering either. However, as they become worn, damaged or outdated, they end up in landfills. They will spend centuries of holiday seasons buried, taking up valuable space.
  • Choosing a real Christmas tree is important for Pennsylvania. There are about 2,000 Christmas tree farms in the state, adding to the local economies. These farms cover 35,000 acres producing 1.2 million cut trees each year. Almost fourteen million dollars in sales are generated by PA Christmas tree farms.
  • These farms also stabilize the environment. The land itself is productive, preserving habitats lost in development. Plus soil erosion is reduced and trees are great air purifiers and give off oxygen. Tree farms help abate soil erosion, storm water runoff, and add aesthetically to the areas around the farm.
  • Ready to shop for a real tree? There are many varieties of trees from which you can choose. Seventy percent of PA Christmas trees are Douglas fir and Fraser fir. The Fraser fir is usually the top choice due its fragrance and needle retention.

Balsam Fir:

soft, dark green foliage, with flattened needles about three-quarters of an inch in length, has a distinctive “balsam” aroma, excellent needle retention.

Colorado Blue Spruce:

stout, three-sided needles about three-quarters of an inch in length. Its foliage can vary in color from dark green to indigo blue. Its sturdy branching and good needle retention make it a desirable Christmas tree, while its excellent form and outstanding color make it the premier ornamental evergreen.

Douglas Fir:

widely used as a Christmas tree in the Northeast. Its lush, blue-green foliage, with needles about one inch in length, and outstanding needle retention make this a holiday favorite.

Scotch Pine:

one of the first farm-grown Christmas trees in the United States. Its sharp, blue-green foliage, with needles about two to three inches in length. It conical shape, excellent color, and needle retention made it the Christmas tree of choice for many years.

White Pine:

native to the Northeast, has soft, lacy, blue-green foliage with needles about three to four inches in length. A very graceful-looking evergreen, it fragrance and excellent needle retention made it a popular Christmas tree.

Fraser Fir:

closely related to Douglas Fir. Its soft, emerald-green needles with silvery undersides are about three-quarters of an inch in length. Its bottlebrush texture, sturdy branching, and outstanding needle retention make it a superb Christmas tree whose popularity has grown rapidly in recent years.

Just as importantly, care is crucial for you to get the most out of your selection. For more information on Christmas tree selection, please contact the Penn State Master Gardeners in Lackawanna County at 570 963-6842 or email: and ask for the publication “Caring for Your Cut Christmas Tree”.

Contact Information

  • Master Gardener Coordinator, Lackawanna County
Phone: 570-963-6842