Fraser fir is named after botanist John Fraser, who explored the Appalachian Mountains in the 1700s. The soft short needles, upward pointing branches and delightful scent of Fraser fir makes it an excellent choice for a Christmas tree. A Fraser fir that isn’t cut to become a Christmas tree can expect to reach up to 80 feet in height. Fraser fir trees, whether from a rootball or a seedling, are planted like other evergreen trees are planted.
Choose a sunny location that has sandy loam soil and is well-drained.
Check the soil pH level either with a self-test kit from your local home and garden center or by sending a soil sample to a lab for analysis. Contact your Cooperative Extension Office for suggestions on a lab near you. Another option is to check neighboring areas for successful evergreen growth, which could be indication that the soil pH level is acceptable. Fraser fir prefers a soil pH level between 5.2 and 5.8.
Add elemental sulfur to reduce pH level if necessary. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Planting Fraser Fir Rootball
Dig the hole in early spring or fall. The hole should be three times as wide and two times as deep as the Fraser fir rootball, which may be a ball and burlap or a container plant. The added width and depth loosens the soil for the roots to more readily expand.
Backfill the hole to a level that will allow the rootball to set on the bottom and have the crown (top of the rootball) at or slightly above ground (no more than 2 inches). Backfill the hole half way and then water thoroughly (about 3 buckets of water). If planting a ball and burlap, pull the burlap half way down the sides of the rootball.
Finish backfilling the hole. Use your feet to pack the soil down around the planted Fraser fir. Thoroughly water again and the water every 7 to 10 days that it does not rain. A layer of mulch can be applied; keep the mulch at least 3 inches from the trunk.
Planting Fraser Fir Seedlings
Pull back the plastic protecting the seedling, but keep the roots wrapped until ready to plant. Seedlings should be planted in the spring to give the roots time to establish. Fall planting could result in the seedling popping out of the ground due to freezing and thawing conditions.
Push the spade into the ground to the depth of the tread (where you put your foot to push the spade). With the blade in the ground, pull and push the spade’s handle back and forth to create a wedge opening in the ground roughly 6 to 8 inches across.
Remove the seedling from the bag. The roots should be about as long as the green portion of the seedling is tall (if the green portion is 6 inches tall then the roots should be 6 inches). If the roots are longer than the height of the green portion, then cut the roots to shorten them.
Remove the spade from wedge hole and place the seedling in the hole, making sure all the roots are pointing downward.
Slowly pour a bucket of water down the wedge, let it seep in, and then use your feet or hands to pack the dirt around the seedling.