The 7 Best Smelling Christmas Trees to Buy in 2023

Christmas is right around the corner, friends, and the hunt for the perfect tree is not to be taken lightly. After all, a fresh tree can be truly magical—unless you spend a hundred bucks on one that sheds pine needles everywhere and smells like nothing, that is. Fortunately, we got the full scoop on the best smelling Christmas trees from a Christmas tree expert (yes, they exist), so you can take home the most fragrant your area has to offer, be it a Balsam fir or Monterey pine. (Psst: Our tree expert emphasizes that the availability of any given tree variety depends largely upon the region in which you live, so pay attention to geography when determining your top choice.) 

The Best Smelling Christmas Trees at a Glance

  • Best Overall: Balsam Fir
  • Best Showstopper: Grand Fir
  • Best Full-Bodied Tree: Monterey Pine
  • Best for Decorating: Fraser Fir
  • Most Beautiful: Noble Fir
  • Most Widely Available: Douglas Fir
  • Best Low Maintenance Tree: Scotch Pine

Meet the Expert

Tim O'Connor is the executive director of the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA), a trade group that represents 38 state and regional Christmas tree grower associations. The NCTA supplies the Christmas tree to the White House and the vice president's residence every year.

What to Consider When Choosing a Christmas Tree

You’re here because you want a Christmas tree that will fill your home with its fresh pine scent, but fragrance isn’t the only thing you should take into account when deciding what type of Christmas tree to buy. Other factors to consider include the distance between branches (bushier varieties with tightly packed branches are great for hiding lights, but do better with small ornaments as opposed to long-dangling ones), the care requirements for maximum needle retention and minimal mess, and the overall shape for aesthetics. With that in mind, read on for a complete guide to our top picks and find a tree that fits the bill.

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Best Smelling Christmas Trees Balsam Fir
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1. Balsam Fir

  • Best Overall

The balsam fir—a variety most commonly found in the Northeast and Great Lake states—tops the list of best smelling Christmas trees. Per O’Connor, the balsam fir is widely known for its strong Christmas tree scent. Another bonus of the balsam fir is that it’s hardy and tends to retain its needles better than some other types of Christmas trees.

Best Smelling Christmas Trees Grand Fir
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2. Grand Fir

  • Best Showstopper

Native to the Pacific Northwest and named for its impressive stature, the grand fir looks very similar to the balsam fir, with an attractive conical shape and short, dark green needles. O’Connor says it also rivals the balsam fir in terms of fragrance—though it’s worth noting that grand firs are only available on the west coast and, even there, they are less common than other varieties.

Best smelling christmas trees Monterey Pine
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3. Monterey Pine

  • Best Full-Bodied Tree

Another one of the best smelling Christmas trees around is this fragrant evergreen from the western part of the country. Native to California’s central coast, the Monterey pine has a full-bodied appearance due to its particularly long needles. Monterey pines are also among the most aromatic pine trees, but they are unlikely to be shipped elsewhere (so if you don’t live on the west coast, keep scrolling).

Best smelling christmas trees Fraser Fir
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4. Fraser Fir

  • Best for Decorating

The Fraser fir is found all across the eastern part of the United States, from North Carolina and Tennessee to the upper Great Lakes, and is exceedingly popular—namely because it’s hardy enough to tolerate shipping. Indeed, the Fraser is known for its strong, sturdy branches and excellent needle retention, which means it can hold even the heftiest ornaments in your collection.

Best smelling christmas trees Noble Fir
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5. Noble Fir

  • Most Beautiful

Basically the west coast equivalent of the Fraser, the Noble fir is a widely available and much-loved variety throughout the western part of the United States that boasts a beautiful blue-green color, soft evergreen scent and, most notably, a remarkably symmetrical silhouette.

Best smelling christmas trees Douglas Fir
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6. Douglas Fir

  • Most Widely Available

Although not a true fir, the Douglas fir is one of the best smelling Christmas trees that’s shipped far and wide. It isn’t the most fragrant on the list, but it does have a sweet evergreen scent, nonetheless, and it’s very easy to find no matter where you live. That said, Douglas firs shed needles like crazy when they start to dry out, so if you opt to bring one home this year, be sure to water it generously.

Scotch Pine
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7. Scotch Pine

  • Best Low Maintenance Tree

A real Christmas tree is a wonderful thing…but if finding pine needles in your bed is a pet peeve, you’d be wise to go for a Scotch pine (or Scots pine) instead of a Douglas fir. The Scotch pine is the most widely planted Christmas tree in America and it’s extremely hardy. Per the experts, the Scotch pine has excellent water retention and its needles don’t even shed when they’ve dried out. As such, the Scotch pine is a particularly low maintenance tree that will survive for the holiday season and beyond (i.e., you can be lazy and keep it up until February). Better still, this mess-free tree boasts a beautiful bright green color, classic pine fragrance and branches that curve upwards for easy decorating.

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Freelance PureWow Editor

Emma Singer is a freelance contributing editor and writer at PureWow who has over 7 years of professional proofreading, copyediting and writing experience. At PureWow, she covers...