Prepared by Karen Russ, HGIC Horticulture Specialist; George D. Kessler, Extension Forester, and Bob Polomski Extension Consumer Horticulturist, Clemson University. New 11/99. Images added 11/15.
Christmas trees are available from a variety of sources – garden centers or nurseries, local retail lots and choose-and-cut tree farms. This fact sheet can help you select a fresh tree and explains the characteristics of different types of Christmas trees.
Field grown Christmas trees will be fresh and full of water.
Barbara H. Smith, ©2015 HGIC, Clemson Extension
Precut Trees: Follow these points to choose the freshest precut tree.
Needles should be fresh and flexible and should not come off in your hand.
Barbara H. Smith, ©2015 HGIC, Clemson Extension
Cut-your-own Trees: Trees at choose-and-cut farms are usually cheaper than at retail lots, and trees that are growing in a field will be fresh and full of water. Most farms have several different species to choose from. Many also provide hand saws and will help you load your tree. Some farms will let you preselect a tree and tag it for later cutting.
A list of Christmas tree farms is available from the South Carolina Christmas Tree Association and from local Clemson Extension offices.
|‘Carolina Sapphire' Cypress||Dense, fine-textured steel blue foliage. Will not support heavy ornaments.||Very fragrant with lemony mint aroma.||Good needle retention; make sure that the tree has a constant water supply.||Available precut and at many tree farms.|
|‘Clemson Greenspire’ Cypress||Dense, fine-textured grass green foliage. Will not support heavy ornaments.||Very fragrant with lemony mint aroma.||Good needle retention; make sure that the tree has a constant water supply.||Available precut and at many tree farms.|
|Deodar Cedar||Short bluish-green needles on strong branches that are pendulous at tips.||Distinctive and pleasant aroma.||Needle retention excellent for only two weeks.||Available in limited quantities at some choose-and-cut Christmas tree farms.|
|Douglas Fir||Soft dark green or blue-green needles. Light in weight, with firm branches||Sweet, citrus fragrance.||Excellent needle retention if fresh. Because they are shipped a long distance, check carefully for freshness before purchase.||Available precut at some retail lots.|
|Eastern Red Cedar||Dense, finely textured, dark green foliage. Foliage is sometimes prickly. Will not support heavy ornaments||Very strongly aromatic.||Dries quickly; make sure that the tree has a constant supply of water.||Traditional cut tree in the South. Commonly available at tree farms; seldom found precut.|
|Eastern White Pine||Usually very full and dense with long, soft blue-green needles. Branches will not support very heavy ornaments.||Pine fragrance, but less intense than other pines.||Excellent needle retention; however, trees will wilt visibly if not given adequate water||Eastern white pine is readily available from retail lots and at tree farms.|
|Fraser Fir||Short, firm dark green needles with white bands on the undersides. Sturdy limbs.||Exceptional and long lasting aroma||Excellent needle retention. Avoid trees with split trunks. Trees with splits will dry rapidly.||Readily available as precut trees.|
|Leyland Cypress||Dense, soft-textured dark green to grayish-blue foliage. Limbs will not support heavy ornaments unless heavily sheared.||Little scent.||Excellent needle retention. Uses large quantities of water. Must water several times per day to prevent drying.||Available at choose-and-cut operations. Rarely available precut.|
|Norway Spruce||Stiff, sharp, dark green needles on strong branches.||Light balsam-like aroma.||Needle retention is poor.||Occasionally found at retail lots.|
|Scotch Pine||Dark to bluish-green, fairly sharp, short needles. Stiff branches will support heavy ornaments.||Pleasant pine fragrance.||Excellent needle retention.||Scotch pines are sold on retail lots.|
|Virginia Pine||Dense, short-needled, artistically spiraled foliage. Strong limbs support heavy ornaments.||Pleasant pine fragrance.||Excellent needle retention.||Commonly available at both retail lots and choose-and-cut farms.|
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This information is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement of brand names or registered trademarks by the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service is implied, nor is any discrimination intended by the exclusion of products or manufacturers not named. All recommendations are for South Carolina conditions and may not apply to other areas. Use pesticides only according to the directions on the label. All recommendations for pesticide use are for South Carolina only and were legal at the time of publication, but the status of registration and use patterns are subject to change by action of state and federal regulatory agencies. Follow all directions, precautions and restrictions that are listed.