Fir, a tree that is part of the pine family, brings a pyramidal form and and regal mountain magnificence to residential landscapes. This tree is valued for soft needles, upright cones, graceful branches, and strong fragrance. It's no wonder that fir cultivars are frequently chosen by the American Conifer Society as Conifer of the Year.
Native to cool, mountainous regions across the globe, firs thrive in moderate climates with adequate moisture and fertile soil. Plant firs in their ideal growing conditions and enjoy these slow-growing, long-lasting trees for decades. Tall, stately firs make an excellent evergreen screen in large landscapes because their densely needled branches will block views to neighbors. Don’t have space for fir trees in your landscape? There are many shrub varieties that add year-round color to perennial beds, foundation plantings, and low-maintenance shrub borders.
Fir pairs well with a variety of evergreens, deciduous shrubs, and perennials. Due to its slow-growing ways, it can be used in small landscapes for many years before it outgrows the space. Fir is also easy to grow in container gardens. Plant it in high-quality planting mix and pair it with sun-loving annuals for a colorful show. Overwinter container-grown shrubs by moving them to an unheated garage with medium light during winter. Move them back outside in early spring.
Fir Care Tips
Fir trees and shrubs grow best in full sun or part shade and moist, fertile soil. Sandy loam soil is best. Fir will occasionally adapt to poor, compacted soils and planting places that are prone to heat and drought, but it often languishes in such conditions and grows exceptionally slowly. Fir is not a good choice for gardening Zones 8 and above; look for other options in hot, dry regions of Zone 7.
Plant fir in early spring, as this group of trees and shrubs does not do well with summer's heat and dry conditions. Resist autumn planting, too, since a young fir won't get adequate time to acclimate before drying winter winds damage it. Water fir well after planting and continue watering regularly so it receives at least one inch of water from rainfall or irrigation each week during the first growing season. Regular watering encourages a strong root system. Spread a 2-inch-thick layer of mulch over the root zone to help conserve soil moisture.
More Varieties of Fir
'Candicans' white fir
Abies concolor 'Candicans' offers silvery-blue leaves and has a columnar, architectural shape. It grows 50 feet tall and 15 feet wide. Zones 3-7
Compact blue alpine fir
Abies lasiocarpa var arizonica 'Glauca Compacta' offers silvery blue needles on a small tree that reaches 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Zones 5-6
Compact white fir
This selection of Abies concolor 'Compacta' is a slow-growing selection with blue-green needles and reaches about 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Zones 3-7
Golden Korean fir
Abies koreana 'Aurea' features golden new growth that fades to light green. It grows 30 feet tall and 20 feet wide. Zones 5-7
'Horstmann's Silberlocke' Korean fir
This Abies koreana variety is among the most stunning of evergreens. Its green needles have bright white undersides and curve up, giving the tree a flocked look. It grows 30 feet tall and 20 feet wide. Zones 5-7
Abies concolor is a large landscape tree with soft green to silver needles and native to areas of North America. It can grow 130 feet tall and 22 feet wide. Zones 3-7
Abies nordmanniana features deep green needles and better heat-tolerance than most firs. It can grow 130 feet tall and 20 feet wide. Zones 4-7