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Fir Tree Abies

Growing Fir Trees: Tips at a Glance

Fir trees are evergreen conifers with short, flat needles and a narrow cone shape (you've seen them in Christmas tree lots); they prefer cool, moist growing conditions.

  • Type Coniferous evergreen
  • Lifespan 250+ years
  • USDA Zones 3-8
  • Light Full or part sun
  • Crown Conical
  • Location Moist soil
  • Design Tip Christmas tree
  • Other Uses Specimen plant
  • Peak season Year-round

Fir Tree: A Field Guide

A fir tree’s classic conical shape—think of all the triangular Christmas trees you drew in kindergarten—also makes a striking silhouette in a landscape in a cool, moist region.

With 50 species (and many more cultivars) to choose among, you can find an Abies that will grow to heights ranging from 30 feet to 250; be sure to do some research before you commit to a fir tree to make sure your garden space will showcase its magnificence at maturity.

Some of our favorite species include the noble fir (Abies procera) with its symmetrically spaced branches and white fir (A. concolor), a drought-resistant tree native to much of the western United States.

Are you wondering what characteristics set a fir apart from pine and spruce trees (its cousins in the Pinaceae family), an easy way to identify Abies is to look closely at the spot where its needles are connected to a stem or branch. The base of each short, flat fir needle is attached individually (as opposed to pine needles, which are attached in clumps or two or more, or spruce needles, which feel rounder to the touch).

For more evergreen trees, see our curated design and plant care guides to Pine Trees, Arborvitae, and Yews.

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