Fir Tree in Central Texas Zone 8

tcharles26(usa texas)October 15, 2006

I was wonering if a Fir tree would work where I live. I dont believe I've ever seen one here (except on a christams tree lot) so I think that the conventional wisdom is "no". But then again - I'm not conventionally wise.

I live in Central Texas, which is zone 8. And I'm not thinking of the plain species tree, rather a cultivated dwarf or intermediate. It could be a container plant on the back patio, or in a bed in the front yard in part sun -or full sun but not in the sun during the hottest part of the day.

I know the concolor does pretty well in heat, but Id be pushing it. I saw a reference to abies firma being good for the southeast - so it would probably be better for me. Although my climate is a little different than the States / areas I think of as the 'Southeast'. It is less humid, less rainfall than say Houston, just 3 hours to the east. But not nearly as arid as the southwest. Sometimes its wet and humid, but we do get periods of significant drought. But I dont stop watering the lawn and garden just because we're having a drought or running out of water.

Problem is - I dont think there are very many cultivated varities of the Japanese Fir that Im interested in - none as far as I can see. Does anyone know of one that is compact, globose, or mounding - dwarf or intermediate?

Or could I push the limits of the abies concolor heat and humidity tolerance. Or just scrap this plan alltogether?

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dcsteg(5 Shawnee, KS.)

Firs are an alpine conifer. Prolonged heat and humidity will do them in. Hard to impossible to grow south of zone 5. Yes there are some exceptions but I won't go there.
My advice is to forget it.


    Bookmark   October 15, 2006 at 9:13PM
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tcharles26(usa texas)

Well, thanks for the response. I feared that would be the answer. Is this the consensus on the board I wonder?

I found an article written by a professor at the vocational school in college station, Texas. It said that abies concolor will grow in cooler parts of zone 7 in Texas. Not my zone, but definitely not zone 5.

I'm not trying to be the belligerent contrarian, but Ive seen phots of healthy dwarf alberta spruce trees growing in Florida Zone 9.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2006 at 9:43PM
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It's probably the warm nights and humidity. The champion tree for Washington grows here locally where the average high temperature in late July is in the 90's, but then the humidity is very low and the nights cool down to high 50s and low 60s.

Have you considered the blue China Fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata)? Or is that what you mean by Japanese Fir?

    Bookmark   October 15, 2006 at 11:10PM
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dcsteg(5 Shawnee, KS.)

Pasadena is right. Firs need low humidity and a chance to cool down at night. If they don't have this they usually last 1-2 years. My last one expired this summer after trying several different micro climate locations to grow them in. Again high humidity and nights in the 80's was something they could not adjust to.


    Bookmark   October 15, 2006 at 11:54PM
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Not a true fir, but very similar (and closely related), is Keteleeria davidiana. That will do well in Texas conditions.

No dwarf cultivars, though. However, if you got a kilogram of seed and sow them all, there's a good chance of finding a new dwarf, and you could eventually make a fortune propagating it for sale to other fir-starved southerners. But first get your kg of Keteleeria seeds . . .


    Bookmark   October 16, 2006 at 5:50AM
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I've seen a Colorado Blue Spruce growing in Ft. Worth (Z-7).
The tree has afternoon shade and is doing ok, but growth is very slow and color just so-so. Owner stated they wouldn't do it again.
I've seen several deodar cedar that looked nice, but no fir trees.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2006 at 5:13PM
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Dave: I have to protest your restriction of firs to zone 5 or cooler. Here is VA, Z6, we have some fine fir trees in the VA Arboretum. Nordmann, pinsapo, holophylla, and a number of others. Some of these are over 70 years old, and a few are so large you can't get your arms around them--not even close.

One of my pet peeves is that no one around here offers any fir trees for sale, except every once in a while. In the last three years I have seen Nordmann and Korean only and I go to every nursury within 50 miles and some over 100 miles from here.

At the National Arboretum--hotter than here and close to Z7 if not in it, the star performer now is an Abies Numidica--now why in h--- can't I get one!!! I ask a specialty nursury that boasts about the variety of trees they offer, to get some fir trees and I am told "they won't grow here." H---, man, go to an arboretum or two and open your blankety blank eyes for g--'s sake. Such ignorance stupifies me!!

One of the worst examples I came across of this kind was when I went to the "tree expert" at our local Meadows Farms nursury here in the DC area a few years ago. They had a site on route 50 just outside DC. I asked if they had any Norway spruce trees. They said they did not carry them because spruce trees would not grow in such a hot climate. The place was surrounded on two sides by a chain link fence, and just beyond that fence on the same two sides were rows of Norway spruce trees 60 to 75 feet tall. They were full, wonderfully green, and had that beautiful weeping foliage so typical of the best Norway spruce. And here is this twerp telling me with a straight face that they wouldn't grow there. I just about fell on my face right there. Believe me, I am not making this up! Where do these establishmants find these people and why do they give them jobs? I am completely boggilified!


    Bookmark   October 16, 2006 at 9:38PM
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I've been growing an Abies pinsapo in a container for 2 years now. It seems to be doing fine. It gets regular water and remains in shade or dappled shade. I really would like to know what rootstock it has been grafted onto. I bought it from a private collector via ebay.

You could try an African podocarpus. I bought a 5 gallon at Red Barn in Austin last fall and it has done remarkably well.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2007 at 8:16PM
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james_va(z6/7 VA)

Spruceman, I feel your pain. The Meadows Farm guy also told me that firs don't do well here -- close to truth than spruces, but still not entirely correct. Even the A. balsamea at the National Arb is in beautiful shape -- it's one of their lushest, best-looking firs. I've got a bunch in containers on my patio. I've resorted to mail ordering.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2007 at 8:44PM
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dcsteg(5 Shawnee, KS.)

Spruceman. Remember in my first post to this thread I said there are some exceptions. There are and I can name several even in KC just as you have in other parts of the country. In the midwest the climate is not conducive to grow Abies here. In some Zone 6 areas where heat and humidity aren't so opressive I am sure that in certain micro climate areas Abies will do just fine. My experiance with Abies is to just forget it south of zone 5 unless you want to take a hit in the pocket book. I woulden't even think twice about trying to grow it especially if I lived in Texas. I think I gave tcharles26 good advice.


    Bookmark   February 24, 2007 at 11:23PM
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There are too many exceptions to Firs to say that they cannot grow there. Firs and Spruces are my 2 favorite conifers and after alot of research and growing I've determined that Abies Firma isn't the only reliably heat tolerant fir. Here's a list of firs that would be worth trying. Abies Cephalonica, Abies Chinensis, Abies Cilicica, Abies Durangensis, Abies Firma, Abies Guatemalensis, Abies Hickeli, Abies Nebrodensis, Abies Numidica, Abies Pindrow, Abies Pinsapo var. Marocana, Abies Recurvata, and Abies Vejarii. I have grown five of those here in the Atlanta area so I think you stand a better chance of being able to grow one than most people will tell you. Also you can buy some Abies Firma seedlings for $0.85 a piece and then if you find a fir that you really like you can buy it and grow it for a few months before it dies and then graft a few branches to the Japanese Fir seedlings.

Here is a link that might be useful: Treehaven Nursery

    Bookmark   February 25, 2007 at 12:18AM
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"Abies Chinensis"

No such thing! Methinks you mean Abies chensiensis?

PS species names also take lower case


    Bookmark   February 25, 2007 at 4:38AM
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Anyone planted the China Fir before and have had at least 5 yrs of tree growth? I am looking for a fast growing tree as a privacy barrier. Planting in sandy loam in Colorado County Tx...Have had 20 degree to 108 degree days. The rains can be feast or famine.

Thank you for your feedback - regards, tstex

Here's a quick tidbit on the tree:

"Growing in Zones 7 through 9, the China fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata) is an evergreen tree that produces deep-green needles and can grow up to 70 feet tall. This hardy evergreen tolerates drought conditions and has few to no pest problems. However, it grows best when planted in areas with moist but well-drained soil"

    Bookmark   December 1, 2014 at 5:28PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Texas is a neat state in the sense that it's the only one that bridges eastern & western geographies and climates. In spite of the name of your county, it looks like you're more eastern than western. Anyhow the problem in (most of) Texas is going to be that Cunninghamia comes from monsoon-soaked southern China and would find droughty periods in TX, like the one you've recently come out of, to be intolerable. I'm sure there are some nice ones though mostly north & east of Houston but even there I suspect they are in watered garden settings or otherwise protected from dryness.
You could still try them, but you've been warned. Even here in coastal Maryland I put mine near a small rill so that it would have less of a chance of suffering dry soil in summer.

I wonder what tcharles26 planted. This is a very old thread.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   December 1, 2014 at 5:41PM
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