Are you looking for the perfect Christmas tree? Fraser firs are an ideal choice, and that’s not just local bias talking. The southern Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee are the only places the trees grow naturally. The cool temperatures and ample rainfall are the perfect environment for the Fraser fir. In North Carolina, over 40,000 acres are used for Christmas tree production, most of those acres are within our Western North Carolina region.

Fraser firs are known as the “Cadillac” of Christmas trees because they have excellent needle retention and are some of the longest lasting of the Christmas tree species. Fraser firs also have strong, well-spaced branches, which allow you to hang plenty of ornaments and lights without worrying about them drooping or snapping. Plus, the space between the branches provides ample room for larger decorations, creating a stunning display. With their perfect conical shape, rich green color, and soft needles, Fraser firs are a festive addition to any home during the holiday season.

These beauties aren’t quick growers, though. Their cultivation takes years of thoughtful trimming, pest management, and care. Native tree stands provide the seeds which are harvested from cones. The trees grow as seedlings for three years before they are placed in line-out beds for another two years. After these first five years, the trees are moved to fields where they will grow another 6 to 10 years before they are harvested. All of this care gives more reason to appreciate your beautiful tree, considering the thoughtful planning and number of years and hands that made it possible to be part of your home.

Picking and Preserving the Perfect Live Christmas

When it comes to picking the perfect live Christmas tree for your home, there are a few key things to consider:

Size of Your Space
It’s the classic Christmas blunder. You fail to take measurements and rely on the “eye-balling” method. This is how you end up with a tree that either is so small it gets lost in a large space, is so tall it has to be decapitated to accommodate the top-ornament, or is so wide that it’s swallowing the room. First, think about the size of your space. Measure the height and width of the area where you plan to place your tree to ensure you get the right fit.

Fresh Cut
If you aren’t harvesting the tree yourself and are buying it from a tree stand, you will want to check the tree for freshness. Many people get their trees early in the season with the hope of enjoying them for many weeks to come. Making sure the tree is freshly cut will help keep the needles on the tree and off your floors.

You can test for freshness by bending the branch upward to make sure it is flexible and that it isn’t so brittle that it is inclined to snap. You can also carefully take a branch in your hand, pulling forward along the stem. Some needles will naturally drop, but a large amount of falling needles indicate the tree is already drying out. Alternately, you can also tap the trunk on the ground to see how many needles are shaken loose.

Branch Strength
Make sure the branches are strong enough to support the weight of your ornaments and lights without drooping and sagging.

Branch Spacing
An overly full Christmas tree might look great in the field or lot, but once it’s decked out with ornaments the effect isn’t as pleasing. Some spacing between limbs allow the ornaments and lights to hang naturally.

Overall Aesthetic
Step back and check out the tree from all angles. Do you like its shape? Is the color pleasing? Is it whispering to you, letting you quietly know it’s the one? And remember, for many of us the tree will be placed in a corner, not the center of the room. So, it may only need to look good at certain angles – don’t fall into the trap of being overly critical.

Transporting the Tree
Secure your tree properly when transporting it home to prevent any damage and catastrophe. Many of the tree farms and lots provide the service of strapping it to your car. You may want to call ahead to make sure they provide this service; otherwise, plan to bring rope and any other supplies you may need. Make sure you have made space in the bed of your truck or the back of your car in advance. And don’t forget to bring an old blanket to protect your interior from sap and needles.

Extend the Tree’s Life
Water is the key to keeping your tree fresh and extending the season. After the trees are cut, the sooner you can get them to water the better. A tree can absorb up to a gallon of water within 24 hours of being cut.

After the tree is cut the trunk will form a protective cap of sap that can dry out the tree. Cutting half an inch from the trunk will allow for better water absorption. Once the tree has been placed in the stand, water should be added immediately and may need to be refilled several times during the first few days. Placement is also important, as cooler areas will minimize needle drop. Avoid putting up your tree in front of heat vents, fireplaces, or areas that are subjected to dry heat. Never allowing the tree stand reservoir to dry out will help your tree stay hydrated and fresh throughout the holiday season.

Recycling the Tree
After the holiday season, consider recycling your live tree instead of throwing it away. Mountain True offers a tree recycling event in January at Jackson Park. Tree recycling turns your tree into mulch or compost for local parks and gardens. In this way, your tree keeps on giving.