If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on your Christmas tree, you usually go home with inexpensive red spruce – but that’s not necessarily the best choice. We show you how to find the perfect tree.
You can find a large selection of Christmas trees in nurseries and garden centers, in hardware stores with a plant department, at street vendors, over the Internet or you can cut the tree yourself. Always make sure that the tree is as fresh as possible
Germans buy around 30 million Christmas trees every year, six million more than in 2000. At almost 80 percent, the Nordmann fir (Abies nordmanniana) is by far the most popular. Over 90 percent of Christmas trees no longer come from the forest but are grown in plantations by specialized horticultural companies.
The largest cultivation areas in Germany are in Schleswig-Holstein and the Sauerland. Most of the larger Nordmann firs that are sold in Germany come from Danish plantations. They grow particularly well in the mild coastal climate there with high humidity and need eight to ten years before they are ready for sale.
The prices for Christmas trees have been relatively stable for several years. Nordmann and Nobilis first cost on average between 19 and 24 euros per meter, depending on their quality and origin, blue spruces between ten and 16 euros. The cheapest are red spruces, which are available from six euros per meter (prices as of 2017). Here we introduce you to the most important types of Christmas trees and give you tips on how to keep the trees looking good for a long time.
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The red spruce (Picea abies), also incorrectly called red fir due to its reddish trunk color, is the most common tree species in Germany with a forest area of over 28 percent and therefore the cheapest of all Christmas trees. Unfortunately, it also has a few disadvantages: Visually, with its short, piercing needles and the somewhat irregular crown structure, it doesn’t look too much, and in the warm room it often loses the first needles after a week. The shoots of the red spruce are very thin and usually stand a bit upright – this is why it is difficult to attach the candles securely.
The Norway spruce is one of the cheap varieties of Christmas trees
The Serbian spruce (Picea omorika) has a rather thin trunk, a relatively narrow, conical crown with almost horizontal branches, and slightly drooping side branches. The branches also grow out of the trunk near the ground, which looks nice but can cause problems when erecting. Their moss-green needles with silvery undersides are, as with almost all spruce trees, very hard and pointed. Serbian spruces, like red spruces, quickly shed their first needles in a warm living room. They are inexpensive, but usually a little more expensive than red spruce.
The blue spruce (Picea pungens), also called stech spruce, has hard and very dense, pungent needles with a blue-gray sheen. The hue of a selection with the variety name ‘Glauca’, which is propagated by seeds, is particularly intense steel blue. The crown structure is very even for spruce and the needles also stick for a relatively long time. The branches are very strong and stiff, so they are also suitable for heavy Christmas decorations. Despite its spines, the blue spruce is the second most popular Christmas tree among Germans with a 13 percent share of sales. In terms of price, the silver spruce is roughly on par with the Nordmann fir and is, therefore, more expensive than other spruce species.
Setting up and decorating blue spruce is a prickly affair. So better wear gloves
Pines (Pinus) are more exotic than Christmas trees because they usually do not have the conical crown shape typical of Christmas trees, but rather a wider, somewhat rounded crown, depending on the species. The branches are relatively soft, so they bend slightly under the weight of the Christmas tree decorations.
The long needles of the pine make decoration difficult, but it enchants with its fragrance
The long, non-piercing needles make it difficult to attach the candle holders. Many species, such as the native forest pine, also grow so fast that they only have a few branch floors for a room the size of the room. Of all Christmas trees, your needles stay fresh the longest, and pines also give your home a very pleasant “sauna scent”.
Noble fir and Korean fir
Noble firs (Abies Procera) and Korean firs (Abies koreana) are the most expensive Christmas trees because both grow very slowly. For this reason, the uniform, conical crowns are also very dense, that is, the distance between the individual branch levels is not very large. Both types of fir have strikingly large, decorative cones and typically soft needles that do not prick and stick for a very long time. The needles of the noble fir show a gray-blue shade, those of the Korean fir a fresh green shade. In addition, both types give off a light citrus scent.
The Korean fir has large, solid cones and is particularly suitable for use with root balls
The Colorado fir (Abies concolor) has the longest needles of all firs. They are soft, relatively thin, and colored steel gray. The crown of the Colorado fir is usually a little more irregular than that of the other fir species, but its needles do not fall off prematurely. Unfortunately, Colorado firs are rarely available in stores and are relatively expensive because of their exotic status.
The Nordmann fir (Abies nordmanniana) is the perfect Christmas tree and tops the list of the best-selling Christmas trees in Germany with 75 percent of sales. The Nordmann fir is grown exclusively for use as a Christmas tree; the frost-sensitive fir has no forestry relevance.
The demand needs to be met: the small Nordmann firs are lined up close together on the plantation
The soft needles do not prick, have a beautiful, dark green color and stick for a very long time. All kinds of decorations can be easily attached to the flat branches. The crown is made up of a continuous central shoot and very regular branch levels. Two-meter-high Nordmann firs are at least twelve years old and therefore several years older than spruces of the same height. For this reason, they are also correspondingly more expensive.
This way the Christmas tree stays fresh for a long time
Slowly get used to the warm temperatures of your Christmas tree by first storing it for two days in a bucket of water in the cool stairwell or basement. Immediately before setting up the Christmas tree, you should cut the lower end of the trunk again and then place it in a stand filled with water. Add some fresh-keeping agent for cut flowers to the water.
Before decorating, give the Christmas tree a few hours so that the branches that have been freed from the net can sit down and take their actual shape. In the living room, the tree should be as bright as possible, but not placed directly next to a radiator, as otherwise, it dries out on one side very quickly. Under no circumstances spray the crown with hairspray: the needles will stick longer, but the risk of fire increases at the same time.