The trees can become up to 500 years old and are then really stately. They have nothing to do with the little trees that we like to put in our living room at Christmas. The Nordmann fir has a beautiful growth. The crown is narrow at the beginning and later spreads out in a cone shape. The branches are uniformly dense. Overall, the tree looks very compact. The needles are soft and shiny and certainly a reason for its popularity as a Christmas tree. The Nordmann fir grows quite slowly at first, then later much faster. The trees have a tap root, but also strong lateral roots, after all, they have to hold a large tree.
Nordmann fir – care
Nordmann fir is a very beautiful coniferous tree. However, in the first years it needs a lot of care and is also exposed to some dangers. Frost and strong sunlight this woody plant does not like at all. Pruning is also often a strain on the little tree. With increasing age, the Nordmann fir becomes more robust and requires much less care. The main threats to the Nordmann fir are the pine shoot aphid and some fungi.
It is said that the Nordmann fir does not like sun. However, you can always see Christmas tree plantations where the trees thrive in full sun. It’s a matter of variety. Some do much better with sun than others.
- Partial shade to shady location.
- Must be protected from hot sun.
- Young seedlings especially need to be protected from the sun!
- Gladly grows the tree on a northern slope.
- High humidity is important.
- Firs do not tolerate much air pollution.
- East wind is unfavorable in winter, at least for young trees. Later they are tougher.
The planting substrate is one of the most important factors in ensuring that the Nordmann fir feels at home and thrives. It is important that the soil is not too dry. Soils that are too heavy or too light can be improved by simple means.
The Nordmann fir likes mild, humus-rich loamy soil or brown earth.
It is important to have fresh and deep soil that should be consistently moist.
The tree tolerates acidic to alkaline planting substrates.
Heavy clay soils are unfavorable, simply because of their poor aeration. They increase sensitivity to winter cold.
Nordmann firs are sensitive to soil compaction.
If you want to plant a Nordmann fir, you need space. Even though the trees are small at first, they grow very, very large. They are not suitable for small home gardens. Transplanting is not possible because the trees have a tap root.
Potted Nordmann firs purchased during the Christmas season are 99 percent unsuitable for planting out. Their taproot is usually damaged. As a result, the trees survive Christmas, but not planting out.
It is best to buy the trees in the nursery. In the case of Nordmann firs, only trees up to 1.60 m are on offer, as in larger specimens the root already reaches too deep and would be damaged when digging.
- Plant between the beginning of autumn and the beginning of spring, as long as the ground is not frozen.
- The planting hole must be properly deep.
- It is important to loosen the bottom of the hole well.
- Insert the root ball and loosen the root ball cloth.
- Fill in the soil and tamp it down.
- For the first year of standing, a support stake can help prevent the tree from loosening during storms.
- Water well and provide adequate water in the following weeks as well.
- If you want to establish a plantation for Christmas trees, you must pay attention to the planting distance. This should be at least 120 x 120 cm. The rows should be slightly staggered!
Watering and fertilizing
The Nordmann fir makes only low demands on water and nutrients. The soil should be watered regularly for young trees. Later, the trees can provide water on their own through their deep roots, even during prolonged drought.
Water especially young and freshly planted trees.
If the needles of the trees change color in the summer during prolonged drought, they usually have too little water.
Fertilizing is best done with conifer long-term fertilizer. There only need to fertilize once a year and the trees get all the nutrients for 6 months.
Brown needles on the tree can be due to a lack of water or nutrients (also pest infestation).
Adult Nordmann firs are usually hardy. Young trees, however, are quite susceptible to frost. Especially the icy easterly winds can cause damage. Therefore, an optimal location is important. Valley locations or planting along a stream is therefore unfavorable, because it often gets particularly cold there.
Self-grown seedlings need especially much protection. They must be protected not only from frost, but also from the sun.
Nordmann firs are best left to grow without pruning. This is the best way to show off their beautiful and uniform growth. For the first two years, do not prune at all. Later you can prune, but you don’t have to. It is important to know that trees do not sprout from old wood.
- Cut only when the tree is three years old.
- Pruning should be done after flowering, around June.
- It is best to cut out only diseased, dead and frostbitten shoots.
The Nordmann fir can be propagated well by sowing. However, one should use seeds that come directly from the Caucasus, not from European plantations. The tree is originally from the Caucasus.
If a seedling is grown into a fir tree by an amateur gardener himself, the gardener must wait about 10 to 12 years to obtain a fir tree height of about 1.80 meters, but only if the fir tree is fertilized and cared for enough.
Place seeds in water before sowing. Those that sink are plantable, those that float on top are empty ( 1 to 2 days).
Put seeds in the freezer for 1 to 2 days and in the refrigerator for about 8 to 10 days (cold germinators)
Seeds can be sown directly in the open ground, but it makes more sense to use a growing container.
Place seeds in humus substrate mixed with sand and cover with soil.
Water and keep soil evenly moist, but not wet.
It takes a while for seedlings to show.
Diseases and pests
Like all conifers, Nordmann fir suffers from some diseases and pests. Fortunately, no parasitic fungi specialize in this type of tree, although fungal diseases appear every now and then. Thus, there are not many diseases. Occasionally, for example, the Hallimasch, actually an edible fungus, likes to attack the firs and can cause some damage.
Conifer-eating beetles usually give the trees a wide berth. Only the bark beetle and the pine shoot aphid sometimes cause damage, especially in sunny locations. Then mainly young firs are threatened.
Systemic insecticides such as Calypso pest-free or Careo pest-free have proved particularly effective against pine shoot aphids. However, it is difficult to reach the upper zones of large trees. In most cases, a specialist with the appropriate equipment must be called in. It is also important to do something against the overwintering larvae the next winter. Mineral oil preparations are good for this, e.g. Promanal® Neu Austriebsspritzmittel.
The Nordmann fir is a beautiful conifer. Probably most Europeans have had it in their room at Christmas. What many who plant one of the trees in the garden forget is that the tree does not stay so nice and small. The first years you can still nicely wind a string of lights around the tree in front of the terrace and the living room window, but after 10 years it becomes tight. Then the tree is over 4 meters tall and does not stop growing. The Nordmann fir is definitely not a tree for small home gardens, for him you need space and enough distance from the neighbor. If you have that, you can enjoy this tree for a lifetime, because they outlive us and our next generation, probably also the house in whose garden the tree is. So to plant this tree, you need to think carefully.