Which Christmas tree types & varieties to choose

Martyn Cox / 10 November 2014 ( 01 December 2016 )

Once upon a time, the only choice was the traditional Norway spruce, but there is now a much wider selection of trees available. We take a look at the top six Christmas tree varieties.

The Nordmann fir

The Nordmann fir (Abies nordmanniana) is the most popular thanks to its needles, which are slow to drop, and you will find the pine needles will usually stay in place even when the branches are dry, although it is less scented than the Norway spruce. Other reliable non-droppers include fraser, noble, Nordmann, lodgepole and white pines.

The noble fir

Think about getting a noble fir (Abies procera), one of the best Christmas trees for scent. The noble fir has inch-long silvery needles and short stiff branches, making it good for heavier ornaments too.

The Norway spruce

The Norway spruce (Picea abies) is the traditional tree. Pretty shape with sharp, light needles that drop quickly indoors. Spruces and pines are generally cheaper than firs and cost about £10 a foot.Norway spruce is always a good bet for a budget Christmas tree, but you should also consider a lodgepole or white pine.

The Douglas fir

The Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) has soft, shiny green needles and is sweetly scented. Holds its needles well.

The Scots pine

The Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) is a native conifer with long, slightly twisted needles. The Scots pine is a good all-rounder with firm needles, an open shape and it keeps well. It's ideal for planting out in the garden afterwards. For successful planting buy a small tree and ensure the root ball is intact. Keep it as cool as possible and bring it indoors for no longer than ten days.

The Serbian spruce

The Serbian spruce (Picea omorika) has a bushy shape and slightly upwards-pointing branches that make hanging decorations easy.

The blue spruce

The blue spruce (Picea pungens Glauca Group) is more expensive than the others, but is extremely showy and a good choice if you’re looking for something more unusual. Decorations look beautiful against the firm blue-green needles of the blue spruce, but you may have difficulty using decorations with small loops as the branches are quite thick. They will, however, support heavy decorations without sagging.

What to look for when buying a Christmas tree

Buying a cut Christmas tree is easy. Choose one that you like the shape of and that has glossy green foliage.

Those that have some brown leaves, or are already shedding needles, have been allowed to dry out and will not last for very long in the home.

Container-grown trees are becoming more popular and are ideal if you have enough room to plant them outside once Christmas is over.

Check that they are well-rooted in their pots - avoid trees that are lifted from fields and rammed into containers. They will struggle to establish once re-planted.

Read our guide to caring for a living Christmas tree

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.