Festive trees are part of traditional American Christmas celebrations
Many different types of trees make great Christmas trees - and each one has its own recognizable quality.
Here are a few good choices from the fir, pine and spruce families.
Douglasfirs have been used as Christmas trees since the 1920s because of their beautiful, soft, blue-green needles and symmetrical shape. The needles on these popular trees are short and well-preserved.
Dark green in appearance, balsam firs have an attractive form and produce long-lasting needles. In addition, balsams have a pleasant fragrance that lasts throughout the holiday season.
Fraser firs are one of the most common species used as Christmas trees in the United States. They have good needle retention, a nice form and an excellent fragrance. They produce flat, dark green to dark blue-green needles ½- to 1-inch long, with round tips.
One of the most beautiful evergreens around is the Colorado blue spruce. They have a cone shape and sport thick, prickly needles that grow anywhere from ¾ inch to 1 ¼ inches long.
White spruce trees make excellent Christmas trees because of their nice natural shape and beautiful foliage color. They also have short, stiff needles, which last longer on this spruce variety than on many of the other spruce species.
Because of their dark-colored foliage and stiff branches, which are great for hanging Christmas ornaments, Scotch pines are commonly used in the United States. They also are well-liked because they last throughout the holiday season if kept in a container filled with water. The needles on these trees are 1 ½ to 3 inches long and are dark green to blue-green.
Caring for cut trees
When you get your tree home, cut off about a half inch of the base of the trunk. Immediately place the trunk in a bucket of water and leave it there until you're ready to move it into the house. Since fresh-cut trees will 'drink' more than 2 gallons of water the first day, be sure to check the water in the bucket often.
Place the tree in a stand that holds a lot of water. Check the water level frequently throughout the duration of the tree's life, because a fresh-cut tree will sometimes consume several quarts of water daily. Proper watering will ensure a nice fragrance and moist needles. In addition, if you want to prolong the life of the tree, you can add a preservative to the water in the tree stand. Several preservatives are available at nurseries and garden centers, or you can make your own by mixing one can of citrus-flavored soda - such as 7UP, Squirt or Sprite - with each quart of water to be placed in the tree stand. If you purchase a preservative, follow the directions on the package.