Bonsai care and maintenance

The fir (Abies) is a genus that belongs to the pine tree family (Pinaceae) and consists of approximately 47 species of tall coniferous trees, which grow in most temperate and mountainous zones of the northern hemisphere.

Fir Bonsai video

Fir Bonsai Care guidelines


The fir needs a place in full sun or partial shade. During the hottest weeks of summer it is advisable to provide some shade over midday and early afternoon, as firs don't like intense heat. Although fir trees are frost-hardy, they need protection from strong frost when they are planted in bonsai containers.


The fir bonsai tree should be watered thoroughly as soon as the soil gets dry. It does not like longer droughts or constant wetness. In winter it needs less water but should not dry out. Fir trees prefer neutral or slightly acidic water and soil, with pH values between 6.5 and 7.5, so rain water or good tap water should be used. Continue reading about watering Bonsai trees.


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Use a solid organic fertilizer every month and / or a liquid fertilizer once a week during the growing season. Younger firs need good feeding for their vigorous growth, but older trees should be fertilized more careful in order to promote more compact growth.

Pruning and wiring

The new shoots of older firs should be pinched when they are still soft, in order to produce a good ramification. The best time to prune larger branches is in late autumn. You can leave stumps, strip off the bark and make little jin. The fir can be wired in autumn or winter to improve the branch lines. Fir branches are quite flexible and take a long time to hold the wired shape, so they normally must be rewired several times. Guy wires are also a good option for shaping stronger branches. Continue reading about pruning Bonsai trees.


Fir trees should be repotted every two or three years in early spring with normal root-pruning. Older and larger specimen can be repotted in longer intervals. Use a well-draining standard soil mixture, for example Akadama, pumice and Kiryu. Continue reading about repotting Bonsai trees.


Firs are usually propagated from seed. Special cultivars are grafted. Air-layering is also possible.

Pests and diseases

The fir bonsai tree can be attacked by fir shoot aphids, needle miner, bark beetle, fir cancer, grey mold, needle cast and rust. Use a specific pesticide or ask a professional gardener for help in difficult cases. For more detailed information on these techniques, check out our Bonsai tree care section.

Fir bonsai
Fir Bonsai by Walter Pall

General information about the Fir Bonsai tree

Firs are evergreen conifers with straight trunks, pyramidal or conical crown shapes and deep root systems. Some fir species can grow up to 70 m tall. The branches are rather short and horizontal or hanging. They grow in a whorled pattern on the trunk. The needles are dark green, flat and flexible and often have two whitish stomata stripes on their underside. In contrast to spruce needles, those of the fir have no sharp tips. The bark is grey and smooth on young trees and becomes rough and flaky with age. Fir cones grow standing upright in contrast to those of the similar looking spruce tree, whose cones hang down from the twigs. Firs are not very often styled as bonsai trees, but there are some fine specimen.

Among the most popular fir species are the Silver fir (Abies alba), Himalayan fir (Abies spectabilis), Caucasian fir (Abies nordmannia), Noble fir (Abies procera), Korean fir (Abies koreana) and Balsam fir (Abies balsamea). All fir species are frost-hardy, but when they are planted in bonsai containers they need protection from strong frost.

If you need help identifying your tree, take a look at our Bonsai tree identification guide.

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