Cut Your Own Tree at a North Carolina Christmas Tree Farm
Photo courtesy of Danielle MacInnes/Shutterstock
Many families cherish the holiday tradition of choosing and cutting their own Christmas trees. They bundle up in warm clothes and head off into the woods, where they debate the merits of several trees before selecting The One. The tree that will be "decked" with treasured ornaments and glittering lights; the one that will be the backdrop for this year’s family photographs, videos and holiday memories.
If you want to experience the old-fashioned holiday tradition of finding and cutting your own tree, you have plenty of choices. More than 100 growers in North Carolina invite visitors to "choose and cut" their own trees. Combined, these North Carolina farmers produce more than 20 percent of the Christmas trees grown in the United States. In fact, Christmas trees are one of North Carolina’s major agricultural crops. With more than 300 Christmas tree growers, North Carolina is ranked second in the nation, behind Oregon, in the number of trees harvested.
Before choosing your tree you will need to determine where in your home the tree will be placed. You’ll also want to consider the desired tree size, density, color and fragrance. You might also want to consider purchasing a "ball and burlap" tree, which is sold with roots intact so it’s possible to replant the tree after the holidays.
Types of Trees
The farms in our region primarily feature Virginia pines, white pines, red cedar, white fir and Leyland cypress trees. Fraser firs are not grown in central North Carolina, although many of the area farms will have these pre-cut and available for sale.
- The Virginia pine is the most popular species grown in the eastern part of our state. The needles occur in pairs on branches that are stout and woody — good for holding ornaments.
- The white pine features soft, flexible needles that range in color from bluish-green to silver-green. White pine needles are a bit longer than those of other species.
- The red cedar, the traditional native Christmas tree of the south, has a nice fragrance, but it can dry out rapidly in a warm house if it is not watered frequently. The color and shape of the red cedar varies widely; its limber branches sometimes have prickly foliage.
- Leyland cypress, a nicely-shaped cultivated hybrid of Monterey cypress and Alaska cedar, is enjoying new popularity as a Christmas tree.
- White firs are known for their citrus fragrance, blue-green color and needle retention.
- Fraser firs have a glossy, dark-green foliage, strong branches and pleasing aroma. The North Carolina Fraser fir has been chosen as the White House Christmas tree 12 times — more than any other species. To choose and cut your own Fraser fir, you’ll need to head to the mountains.
Set a Festive Tone
When you’re ready to go, double-check your driving directions and the working hours for the tree farm you will be visiting. Dress warmly in festive clothing. Play holiday music in the car, and take along a thermos of hot chocolate or spiced apple cider to drink while you hunt for your tree. Don’t forget your camera; you’ll want to capture the excitement as your children leap out of the family to race through the trees. Take along a notebook and pen so you can write down notes about everyone’s favorite trees.
Visions of Sugar Plums
Make tree-hunting a weekend adventure by visiting Sugar Plum Farms near Plumtree, North Carolina, in Avery County. Sugar Plum Farms is loaded with holiday extras and is well worth the drive. This farm specializes in North Carolina Fraser firs, as well as wreaths, garlands, holiday decorations, refreshments and tours.
At Sugar Plum Farms, families can hop on a hayride to the tree-cutting area, where staff members photograph your family cutting down your tree. Enjoy a picnic lunch at the farm. Hot food and warm beverages are available. In late afternoon, the staff hosts a campfire, complete with marshmallows for roasting. Santa Claus visits often on the weekends, so children should have their wish lists handy. Accommodations for overnight visitors can be arranged with area motels, bed-and-breakfasts and cabins.
The Care and Feeding of Your Tree
After you bring your tree home, remember to water it frequently. If you need to wait more than a few hours to decorate the tree, keep it outdoors in a cool, shaded area. The base of the tree should be re-sawed on a diagonal near the original cut and placed in water to stay fresh. When the tree is put up in the house, check the water level in the base daily. Make sure the tree is well-supported and placed away from sources of heat. Never leave tree lights on overnight or when no one is home. Check all cords for wear.
A properly chosen and well-kept Christmas tree will add to the enjoyment of your families’ holiday season. Plan a tree-trimming evening that includes sharing stories about origins of ornaments, favorite holiday music and tempting treats. And don’t forget to sing "Oh, Christmas Tree" as you gather round your tree.
North Carolina Trees
The North Carolina Christmas Tree Association and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture maintain website listings of Christmas tree farms in our state. The Eastern North Carolina Christmas Tree Growers Association can also provide information about tree farms. If you choose a farm from one of these sites, please call before you go. Some tree farms listed on the websites do not have trees available this year but will next year.
North Carolina Christmas Tree Association
828-262-5826 or 800-562-8789
Eastern North Carolina Christmas Tree Growers Association
North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services
Marketing Divisions – Christmas Trees
The farms listed below all offer cut-your-own trees this year.
Back Achers Christmas Tree Farm
4533 Inwood Rd., Raleigh
Offers choose-and-cut Christmas trees — Virginia pine, White pine, Cedar, Leyland cypress, Carolina sapphire, Thuja, Juniper and pre-cut Fraser fir. Also has wreaths and garlands. Refreshments and tours available by appointment.
Open: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday; Monday by appointment only.
Directions: Farm is located off Lake Wheeler Road, 2 1/2 miles south of the beltline.
2813 Mount Vernon Rd., Raleigh
Offers choose-and-cut Christmas trees – White pine and Leyland cypress and pre-cut Fraser fir. Also has wreaths and garland. Delivery available.
Open: TBD (check website for updates)
Directions: Take Highway 50 north (Creedmoor Road) ten miles from Crabtree Valley Mall. Turn left onto Mount Vernon Church Road. Farm is on the left.
Daniel Tree Farm
1711 NC 55 East, Dunn
Offers choose-and-cut Christmas trees — White pine, Leyland cypress, Virginia pine, Red cedar, Carolina sapphire and pre-cut Fraser firs. Custom-made wreaths available.
Open: Nov. 23 (Thanksgiving Day), 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Nov. 24, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays only through Christmas, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Directions: Take 401 to Hwy. 55 (Fuquay-Varina); Take Hwy. 55 east through Angier, and one mile past the city limits of Coats the farm is on the left.
250 Avent's Ferry Rd., Sanford
Offers choose-and-cut Christmas trees — White pine and Leyland cypress. Will have pre-cut Fraser firs, custom made wreaths and high quality tree stands.
Open: Sunday through Friday, 1-7 p.m.; Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Jordan Lake Christmas Tree Farm
2170 Marthas Chapel Rd., Apex
Open specific days starting Nov. 18. Check website for details.
Offers choose-and-cut Virginia pine Christmas trees, Fraser firs, wreaths, garland, trees for planting and more.
Directions: Take U.S. 64 West in Apex to N.C. 751, then turn left on Marthas Chapel Road.
McInnis Tree Farm
468 Presnell Rd., Sparta
Offers choose-and-cut Christmas trees – White pine and pre-cut Fraser fir. Wreaths available.
Open: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Nov. 27-Dec. 13
Directions: From I-77 at Elkin, exit on US 21 North, about 2 miles after passing the Blue Ridge Parkway take a right on Glade Valley Road and follow the signs.
North Lakes Christmas Tree and Nursery
7326 Meadowbrook Road, Benson
Offers choose-and-cut Christmas trees — White pine and Leyland cypress. Pre-cut Fraser firs, wreaths and garlands.
Open: Check website for updates on dates and hours.
Directions: Interstate 40, Exit 334 – Meadow Exit. Take Hwy. 96 to Hwy. 50. Go east on Hwy. 50 to first left past Meadow School onto Meadowbrook Road. Go about a mile and a half, farm is on the left.
Sugar Plum Farms
1263 Isaacs Branch Road, Plumtree
Offers choose-and-cut Christmas trees – Fraser fir and blue spruce. Shipping available. Also offers wreaths, decorations, Christmas shop, refreshments and crafts.
Open: Check website for updates on dates and hours.
Directions: Take I-40 west to Hwy. 226 at Marion. North on Hwy. 226 to Spruce Pine. Turn right on Hwy. 19-E and go 12 miles to Plumtree and follow the signs to the farm.
Young’s Tree Farm
686 Fleming Road, Youngsville
Offers choose-and-cut Christmas trees – White pine and Leyland cypress.
Open: Call for dates and hours.
Directions: One mile north of Youngsville on SR 1132
First published Aug. 1, 2009. Updated Oct. 24, 2015 by Megan Finke