Abies are also known as Fir Trees and with around 50 species along with many cultivars including Dwarf Abies, available for sale they are widely used in landscaping.
These are the traditional ‘Christmas Fir’, you trees from some species, with their good pyramidical habit are widely used as Christmas trees.
A diverse group of plants ranging from tall trees to low growing species that make excellent ground cover plants. All from the Northern Hemisphere and of course we then have the many named cultivars as well.
Abies varieties are widely used in landscaping from magnificent feature trees in large parks to low hedges or features in the rock garden.
Pictured right is Abies Koreana, an excellent specimen tree for a medium, to large garden.
These are a hardy plant and cope well with most soils and low water once established. Make sure that the area is well drained as Abies do not like wet root systems. For best performance try these steps.
When planting choose a well drained soil and a position in full sun to afternoon shade.
- Dig in some well rotted compost before planting.
- Water in with a liquid seaweed fertilizer.
- Stake upright forms until strong root systems have been established.
- Provide moisture through the first summer until the root system is established.
- Apply a slow release fertilizer every 2 – 3 years.
- Mulch around plants in spring to maintain a cool root run.
- If you are growing Abies in containers, allow then to almost dry out between watering.
In general these are a plant that do not require pruning, and in fact this can destroy the natural attractive shape. Remedial pruning of any dead or damaged wood is the exception.
The low growing or prostrate forms are the exception, they can send up unwanted tall leaders, these should be pruned right back as soon as they appear.
- Abies balsamea is a tall growing species to 50 ft suited to zone 3
- Abies normandiana has a wonderful symmetrical habit which makes it an excellent specimen tree. Suited to zone 4
- Abies koreana is the Korean Fir, again very symmetrical and pyramidical reaching 30 ft over time. Suited to Zone 5
- Abies pinsapo is the Spanish Fir, slow growing however over time it will grow to a large tree at around 60 ft. Suited to zone 7
- Some of the best low growing or ‘Dwarf’ Abies include
- Abies koreana ‘Starker Dwarf’, forms a good 6 ft mound.
- Abies procera ‘Glauca’ prostrate form, very good low spreading form. It can send up long leaders, however these are simply pruned away. Attractive blue – green foliage.
- Abies nordmanniana ‘Golde Spreader’ – Brilliant golden yellow foliage that adds color to the garden through the winter months.
Includes : picea abies, abies concolor, pinus abies, abies koreana, abies fir, abies lasiocarpa, abies balsamea and picea pungens
Propagation is not that easy, however softwood stem cuttings seems to work best. Take them in spring. Yes you can grow species from seed.