This tree has become a Christmas favorite in recent years, thanks to the pretty contrast between the silver on the underside of the needles and the dark green on top. No worries about being pricked―the 3/4 inch-long needles are flat, have blunt ends, and are soft to the touch. The Fraser fir is said to have the best needle retention of all the trees, but farmers say needle retention is based more on how well you care for the tree.
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This aromatic, dark green tree will keep a room smelling like a forest in Maine. The needles are three-quarters of an inch long, flat, and blunt at the ends, and grow in two rows on either side of the branch. All firs have good needle retention. Fir branches are airier than those of pines or spruces, so you can go wild with popcorn strings and colored balls.
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At the Jones Family Farms, in Shelton, Connecticut, the white fir is called "the tangerine tree" because of its citrusy smell. The soft needles are flat and thin, two to three inches long, and silvery blue, growing all around the branch. The white fir tends to be fuller than other firs. Not widely grown, it is a niche tree, says Terry Jones: "You either love 'em or you hate 'em."
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Eastern White Pine
This tree is popular in the South. The branches grow close together, and the soft, hairlike needles, 2 1/2 to 5 inches in length, grow in bundles of five, giving the tree a soft, full appearance. But because of the tightness of the branches, it doesn't showcase ornaments as well as firs do.
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The inch-long needles are thin, pointed, and soft; they grow in two rows, as on the balsam, and stick out in different directions, giving the tree a beautiful, feathery appearance. Douglas firs are dark green or blue green, depending on their genetic makeup and the type of soil they are grown in. The branches are more flexible than those of the balsam, making this not the best choice for heavy ornaments.
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Colorado Blue Spruce
A beautiful tree that ranges in color from silvery blue to dark green, the Colorado blue spruce has needles 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches in length that grow "bottle brush" style on the branches. Because the needles are prickly, the Colorado blue spruce is often recommended to people who have cats. They won't try climbing it twice. The strong branches can support heavy ornaments without sagging.