Christmas tree seedlings are young, needled evergreens that belong to the Pinaceae plant family. Home gardeners wanting to plant Christmas tree seedlings should consider the tree's growth rate, needle retention, foliage color and hardiness zone. Several varieties of fir, pine and spruce typically make good Christmas tree seedlings for planting.
The Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) is a very tall conifer that reaches up to 80 feet in height and up to 20 feet wide. The Douglas fir is considered a premium Christmas tree variety in its native Rocky Mountain and Pacific Northwest regions. The slow-growing Douglas fir bears aromatic needles with pale green undersides and darker green tops. The short needles remain firmly attached to the branches after cutting. Winter hardy in USDA zones 4 to 6, Douglas fir seedlings prefer sandy loam or loamy soils in fully sunny locations.
White fir (Abies concolor), also called a concolor fir, is indigenous to the mountain slopes in western regions of the United States (US). Winter hardy in USDA zones 3 to 7, the seedlings prefers sandy, slightly acidic planting locations in full sun or part shade. These slow-growing trees generally reach about 70 feet in height and 30 feet in width. This conifer features a narrow, conical shape and brown or purple, barrel-shaped cones. The aromatic, silver-blue needles reach 2 1/2 inches long and have excellent retention.
White spruce (Picea glauca), native to the northeastern United States and Canada, is generally winter hardy in USDA zones 2 to 6. This pyramid-shaped, slow-growing conifer reaches between 40 and 60 feet in height with spreads ranging from 10 to 20 feet. The branches bear light brown cylindrical cones and short, stiff needles that have an unpleasant aroma when bruised. The seedlings have light green needles that become covered with a waxy white bloom. Needle retention is usually better than other spruce varieties.
Scotch pine seedlings (Pinus sylvestris) are extensively planted for Christmas tree stock. Native to Europe and eastern Asia, this evergreen variety grows well in USDA hardiness zones 2 to 7. This hardy conifer reaches up to 60 feet in height with up to 40 foot spreads. The twisted, bluish-green needles have good retention. This fast-growing tree features orange to reddish brown bark and light brown to gray cones. Scotch pine seedlings grow better in the northern areas of the United States.
Austrian pine trees (Pinus nigra), also known as European black pines, are European natives winter hardy in USDA zones 4 to 7. This medium- to large-sized conifer typically grows from 40 to 60 feet in height with spreads ranging from 20 to 40 feet. These slow-growing, pyramid-shaped trees feature oval cones and strongly attached, yellow-green to dark green needles. The branches tend to be strong, making this a good Christmas tree on which to hang ornaments.