The Fraser fir is part of the pinaceae or pine family. It is also known as the she-balsam or southern balsam fir. It grows in higher elevations of the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. It grows well in the cool, temperate rain forests, but does not fare well elsewhere. It likes shallow, rocky soil and has a shallow root system. The Fraser fir grows in soil that is very acidic—with a pH of 3.5 to 4.2. The Fraser fir has been seen as low as 4,500 feet above sea level, but is usually found at 5,500 feet and above.
Soak bare root trees for at least eight hours before planting to ensure proper hydration.
Dig a planting hole three times the size of the root ball and as deep as the root ball. The soil will be rocky if you are planting tree in the mountains, so you might need to use the pick to break up some of the soil and rock mixture. Remove any rocks from the planting hole. If the tree is bare root, dig the planting hole as wide as the spread-out roots and as deep as the discoloration on the trunk of the tree (the discoloration shows how deep the tree was previously planted).
Scarify the sides of the planting hole with the pitchfork. If the tree is potted, remove the pot. If the Fraser fir is root bound, make four 3-inch cuts around the root ball for a large tree and four 1-inch cuts around the root ball for a smaller tree. If the tree is balled and burlaped, remove the staples or ties holding the burlap on the root ball. If the burlap is organic, you can leave the burlap on the root ball—it will disintegrate over time and provide additional nutrients for the tree. Discard synthetic burlap because it will not disintegrate.
Fill the planting hole with water. Center the Fraser fir in the planting hole and backfill with soil.
Create a watering ring around the perimeter of the planting hole. The watering ring directs water to the outside roots and helps to conserve water. Mulch with compost or pulverized bark. For large trees, use 3 inches; for smaller trees, use about an inch of the compost or pulverized bark.
Water the Fraser fir with at least an inch of water each week throughout the growing season. During the dormant season, reduce watering to every other week, unless there is snow on the ground, at which time, you can cease watering.
Fertilize the Fraser fir after the first growing season, if needed. After the first growing season, fertilize every three years and only if needed. The Fraser fir generally gets enough nutrients from the soil if grown in its native habitat.