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

The stuff of ancient Norse ceremonies, candlelit Victorian parlours and modern childhood memories, the Christmas tree truly embodies the spirit—and scent—of the season. Yes, artificial pretenders have made inroads, but natural trees are just that—natural. Grown right here, they delight us with their evergreen gifts, then return obligingly to the earth. There’s a plethora of Christmas trees available at tree farms, nurseries and retail outlets. Whether you buy a pre-cut one or find your inner Paul Bunyan and cut your own, here’s a guide to help you pick the perfect tree.

* Needle retention score is on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the worst.

Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris)

Native to the British Isles (though little remains of the pine forests that once cloaked Scotland), the Scots pine was introduced to Canada by early settlers. Fast-growing and adaptable, it is the most  common Christmas tree, with a pleasing conical shape and long-lasting fragrance. The stiff branches will support heavy ornaments— and lots of them thanks to its fairly open branching pattern. Scots pine keeps well after being cut, holding its needles for four weeks, even if you’re not diligent about watering. The bluish-green needles are stiff, twisted, with sharp tips, 4.5 to nine centimetres long. Widely available.

Needle retention score: 5


Austrian pine (Pinus nigra)
With its bold texture and heavy thick branches, the Austrian pine demands space where it can make its shaggy presence felt. A rapid grower, it is more difficult to shear into the desired shape than other species. Its long, dark green needles are a distinctive feature. Tufted on the branch tips, they’re eight to 15 centimetres long and quite sharp, which can make decorating it a challenge. But the dense branches hold plenty of lights and ornaments. Austrian pine lasts well and has a moderate fragrance to boot. Usually found at Christmas tree farms.

Needle retention score: 5


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