Plants - Trees and Shrubs

10 evergreen Christmas tree options

Karen York
Photography by
Laura Arsiè (inset photos)

From fir to pine to spruce, choose the perfect fragrant tree that will host your decorations


Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus)
Ontario’s provincial tree and a key building block in Canada’s history, the eastern white pine makes a tall, elegant Christmas tree, with slender, pliant branches that are best suited to smaller, lighter ornaments. Friendly on the fingers, the soft, blue- to silver-green needles are long (eight to 12 centimetres) and held in bundles of five, giving the tree a full, almost fluffy appearance. It also has very little fragrance, which is good news for allergy sufferers. A rapid grower, it can reach 1.2 metres in height in six to eight years in cultivation, which keeps the price reasonable. Widely available.

Needle retention score: 4


Colorado spruce (Picea pungens)
With a naturally symmetrical form that requires little shearing during cultivation, this tree has stiff branches that will carry many heavy ornaments. The silvery green needles, attached singly around the branch in bottlebrush fashion, are two to 3.5 centimetres long, thick, rigid, curved upward and very sharp, so gloves might be in order. Beware that the needles will drop quickly if the room is too warm or if the treestand water reservoir is allowed to dry. Slower growing than other species, the Colorado spruce takes longer to reach marketable size and is usually pricier as a result. Available at farms and nurseries.

Needle retention score: 3


Balsam fir (Abies balsamea)
Named for the resin or balsam found in blisters on the bark, the balsam fir is the top-selling Christmas tree in Canada. It is also one of the most fragrant, with a pleasing woodsy scent. Add to that the classic layered Christmas tree shape, a lovely dark green colour, branches stiff enough for a wide range of ornaments and good needle retention and its appeal is clear. The flexible needles are two to four centimetres long, flat with rounded tips and two white bands on the undersides. Widely available.

Needle retention score: 4


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