Nordmann Fir: Growth Of The Fir Per Year, Care And Pruning

Growth of Nordmann fir

Among fir trees, Abies nordmanniana is probably the most famous classic at Christmas time. The mighty tree originated in the Caucasus and is therefore also known as the Caucasian fir. In the 19th century it was brought to Central Europe by the Finnish biologist Alexander von Nordmann. In its native habitat, the fir can easily reach a height of between 40 and 60 meters and a trunk diameter of over 3 meters. Planted in the home garden, it needs a lot of space, because even here a height of 15 to 25 meters and a width growth between 6.50 and 8.00 meters is not uncommon. Nordmann firs can become very old, up to 500 years.

Planted free-standing, these firs with their symmetrical, pyramid-shaped growth are already worth an eye-catcher. The branches reach evenly to the ground. Even with increasing age, there is no thinning of this area. Further characteristics of the Nordmann fir are

  • strong, dark green, blunt and shiny needles
  • brush-like and dense arrangement
  • two white stripes on the underside
  • straight trunk
  • almost horizontal branches
  • deep taproot, therefore very storm resistant

Light-placed and well cared for Nordmann fir develops magnificently. Thus, every summer she says goodbye a little higher than she greeted him. However, many years will pass before the tree develops its full potential. These growth steps are possible.

Note: The flowers that appear in May serve as a food source for bees.

Growth per year

Nordmann fir growth is relatively slow, especially in the first four to five years. They then grow somewhat faster as they get older. New shoots (tips) are always formed during the various growth phases. These are also known as terminal shoots and are very susceptible to frost and browsing by game. In addition, new lateral shoots are formed in place of damaged branches. However, this formation of “additional shoots” affects the tree growth very unfavorably. Several tips are formed in the process.

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The growth per year is less than 30 cm in the first years of growth. After about five years, however, the Nordmann fir grows much faster. Then there is an annual growth in height between 30 and 40 cm and growth in width up to 20 cm. Thus, in the 10th year of growth, the fir can reach a height of two meters. Then also appear up to 15 cm initially green and later brown cones. These stand upright on the branches and decay in winter. Only now also the strikingly broad crown slowly unfolds.

Abies nordmanniana can definitely be classified as low-growing. Compared to the Nordmann fir, the growth per year of other conifers is

  • Noble fir 5 to 10 cm
  • Blue spruce 25 to 60 cm
  • Douglas fir 30 to 50 cm
  • Red spruce 25 to 50 cm
  • Japanese sickle fir 40 to 70 cm

Note: Due to its slow growth, the Nordmann fir can also be grown in an appropriately sized tub without any problems in the first few years. It can then simply be potted up and used as a Christmas tree.

Restricting growth

Nordmann Fir: Growth Of The Fir Per Year, Care And Pruning

Sometimes it is also necessary to stop the growth, for example when there is a lack of space. There are now various measures, but whether these are then always so successful, is not certain. In any case, these must be done carefully to avoid major damage.

Tree pruning

As a rule, conifers are not easy to prune back. The reason is that in these trees old wood does not resprout as in other woody plants. Pruning should be done only when the tree is three years old, after flowering, until the beginning of July. The outer shoots can be shortened a little, simply clip them off. Possibly the top can also be shortened. Sometimes it can branch and continue to grow.

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Root pruning

As a rule, such pruning is only carried out on flat-rooted trees such as spruces. However, in the case of young Nordmann firs, it is possible to trim the taproot somewhat in its length. Care must be taken to avoid severe damage to the tree.

Growth regulation

For this purpose, there are appropriate pliers in the specialized trade. This tool is then used to cut through the growth layer at various points. This layer is located in the bark of the tree. Through this process, the flow of sap is interrupted. Ultimately, a delay in the growth of the tree can be achieved. However, these pliers are not very cheap.

Growth rate depends on age

When young, the Nordmann fir must first grow well and form new needle mass. Therefore, it grows slowly in the first four to five years. After that, the growth rate increases steadily. Once the tree has developed its full height potential, there is inevitably no more remarkable height growth.

Average growth values

Nordmann Fir: Growth Of The Fir Per Year, Care And Pruning

The following values have been determined for the average growth of the Nordmann fir:

  • annual growth in height: 25 to 30 cm
  • annual growth in width: about 15 cm
  • maximum height: about 25 m
  • maximum width: up to 8 m
  • after 10 years a Nordmann fir is about 2 m high

Color of the new shoots

The annual new growth can be well observed on the coniferous tree. This is made possible by the yellow to grayish-yellow color of the freshly sprouted needles. These shoots are sensitive to frost.

Pay attention to planting distance

Under the roots of a Nordmann fir is also a long taproot that reaches deep into the earth. The longer the tree grows in one place, the harder it is to dig up and transplant without root damage. Therefore, already at the time of planting, keep a planting distance of at least 1.5 m from other firs. To buildings it may even be a little more.

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Stopping growth due to lack of space

Limiting natural growth can be attempted by pruning. Since the tree is not very tolerant of pruning and does not resprout from old wood, it is not very suitable for topiary pruning. Cutting off the top is also possible. However, obtain more information on this so that you can restore the typical pyramidal crown shape afterwards.

Other ways to limit growth:

  • stop fertilizing
  • with the exception of Epsom salt against needle browning
  • careful capping of the taproot

Note: Nordmann firs are very sensitive to air pollutants and poor air at their location. Especially a young fir can then experience growth delays.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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