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Balsam fir (Abies balsamea) belongs to the Pine family, or Pinaceae. This common evergreen conifer is popular in many countries. Currently, a large number of decorative forms of balsamic fir has been bred.
Under natural conditions of growth, the height of the fir of this species very often reaches 23-35 m. The tree has a regular conical crown that sinks to the ground. The bark is gray-brown, smooth. The length of the needles varies from 15 to 25 mm. The needles are dull or have a slight notch at the end. The upper part is dark green, shiny, whitish stripes in the lower part. The location of the needles is comb.
Cones are oval-cylindrical in shape. Their length reaches 10 cm, and the diameter can be 20-25 mm. In the initial phase of development, the cones have a dark purple color. The plant is characterized by a superficial root system. Life expectancy often exceeds 200 years.
One of the main forest-forming species in North America at present - balsam fir is gaining popularity in our country. In nature, there are about twenty varieties of this plant, including cultivated and wild forms. Especially popular are dwarf, slowly growing forms of balsam fir.
|Form name||Shape characteristic||Shape Features|
Kiwi, or Abies balsamea Kiwi
|Dwarf shrub up to 50 cm in height. Crohn is rounded. The plant is slowly growing. The needles are dark green in color, thick, shiny and relatively short. Young growths have a bluish tint||It is used in small gardens, rockeries, stony or heather plantings, and is also an ideal form for growing in a container|
"Nana", or Abies balsamea Nana
|Dwarf shrub up to 0.5-1 m in height. The crown is rounded, with a diameter of up to 2 m. The branches are sprawling, dense, horizontally located. The needles are short, thick, dark green in color, with a pair of white-blue stripes on the bottom||Slowly growing, shade-tolerant and frost-resistant plant. Looks good in rocky gardens, in containers, with landscaping of the terrace and roof. You can plant in groups or in solitary|
Hudsonia, or Hudsonia
|Dwarf, quite common mountain fir. The branches are very dense, shoots are numerous and relatively short. The needles are short, flat, wide, black-greenish above, bluish-green below||Bred in the state of New Hampshire, where it grows along the upper border of forests. Rarely used in single and group landings|
|Piccolo, or Piccolo||The height of an adult highly decorative miniature plant is 30-50 cm. The crown is round, saturated dark green in color. Young growth of light green shade||Ideal for alpine slides, often grown as tapeworms and in container landings|
Green Globe, or Green Globe
|A small coniferous tree with a very dense and soft needles of dark green color. The ends of the shoots in spring acquire a golden green color. The height of an adult plant does not exceed a meter. Smooth spherical crown does not require trimming and consists of powerful branches||Decorates lawns alone, completes the composition of alpine gardens and rocky gardens, and can also be used for growing in containers|
You can plant fir both in spring and in autumn, but spring planting in pre-prepared pits is still preferable:
- on heavy soils, it is required to equip a drainage layer of 20 cm of small rubble or brick fight;
- a mixture of mineral fertilizers and rotted sawdust should be poured over the drainage layer;
- establish the root system of the plant should be on a layer of soil mixture, consisting of clay, leafy soil, humus, peat and sand;
- the minimum distance between neighboring trees should be about 2.5 m, which is due to the characteristics of the root system of the plant;
- the landing pit should have parameters of 50 x 50 cm or 50 x 60 cm.
The root neck of the planted plant must be located on the same level with the ground. The best survival rate is shown by seedlings, the age of which varies from five to ten years.
How to plant balsam fir
Balsamic fir is characterized by sufficient shade tolerance and frost resistance, which greatly facilitates the care of the plant. However, in too harsh climatic conditions, under the influence of return frosts, freezing of the stem part of fir quite often occurs.
The plant does not need decorative pruning at all and is capable of independently forming an attractive crown. Sanitary pruning, which allows you to remove old and injured branches, is carried out in the spring, before the start of active sap flow.
Despite the relative drought tolerance, balsam fir is very responsive to regular irrigation. In addition, it is recommended in the summer to conduct weekly sprinkling of the crown of the plant. It should also be remembered that the superficial root system makes the plant not very resistant and can be damaged by strong gusts of wind.
Curative fir oil is extracted from almost any type of fir, but Siberian and balsamic fir oil is considered the most valuable and effective.
In Canada, balsam fir is very popular and is used as a source of healing Canadian balsam. Such an agent has anti-inflammatory, bactericidal, disinfectant, analgesic, antispasmodic, warming, antirheumatic and anti-arthritic, as well as general stimulating properties.
You might also be interested in an article about solid fir.
Landscape Balsam Fir
Balsam fir very effectively and harmoniously looks in alley plantings. Plants look great as a classic hedge. Such decorative qualities of balsamic fir as harmony and elegance allow the plant to look as attractive as possible in single and group plantings.
Under natural conditions, fir of this kind grows well on the coastal line, which makes it possible to plant a tree near natural and artificial ponds. When registering a personal plot, it should be remembered that in landscape design two forms of balsam fir are most demanded, which are called Hudsonia and "Nana."
Today, it’s especially popular among Russian consumers that it is the decorative forms of balsam fir, slowly growing, with a flat-shaped habit.
For connoisseurs of unusual plants from the Pine family, we can recommend the balsamic silver fir, or Glauca, which has bluish needles, silver fir, or Argentea, with white needles at the ends, variegated fir, or Variegata, which has yellow-motley needles, or columnar fir. Such decorative and unpretentious plants are perfectly adapted for cultivation in the middle zone of Russia and are absolutely not demanding in care.