I have a guilty pleasure. I like a real tree for the holidays—specifically, a fir tree. For me, there is nothing quite like the smell, the look or the reduced cleanup associated with a fir, but did you know that not all firs are the same? Here are my pro tips when choosing a fir tree for your home this holiday!
First up is clearly the Balsam (won’t make that mistake again). Balsam Firs are known for their dark green colour, which is the perfect backdrop for lights and ornaments. Balsams give off a fantastic scent in the home, and this is a priority for people like me who associate the smell of evergreen with the holidays. In fact, many aficionados argue that Balsams give off the most fragrance of all the fir trees.
The one downside of the Balsam tree is that it tends to have a looser branch structure and doesn’t do well with heavier ornaments. Are you planning to go with a Balsam for your home this year? Look for one that is locally grown, as our Canadian winters help the tree grow stronger and more dense.
Also popular is the Fraser Fir. Called the Cadillac of Christmas trees, the Fraser Fir often comes with the highest price tag in the tree lot. Known for soft needles on sturdy branches, the Fraser Fir is a great all-around option for your home. In fact, this is the type of tree that is used in the White House every year. (Many different types of trees are used in Canada at the Capitol).
Fraser Fir has the distinction of holding its needles the longest, often up to six weeks; I suspect this has more to do with when it was cut and how often it is watered.
The Douglas Fir has been a popular choice for many years because of its perfect shape and density of branches. However, Douglas firs have some down sides. If you like a tree that you can load up with lots of decorations, Douglas Fir might not be the one for you. It grows with densely backed branches and needles that fan out from the branches in all directions.
A smart plan when shopping for a Douglas fir is to take an inexpensive and non-breakable ornament with you so that you can test drive some of the branches before you commit. If there is no room for the ornaments, then you are better off choosing another variety.
A final note goes out to the Noble Fir. Not as well known in Canada, more US growers have been growing this option for trees and for wreathes because its needles turn upwards, making it ideal for arranging and decorating for the holidays.
Whichever is the right option for you, going with a live tree is always a good choice, especially for the environment. Faux trees containing synthetic materials have a higher environmental footprint than a naturally recyclable, agriculturally grown crop.