The Complete Guide for Dwarf Balsam Fir (Abies Balsamea ‘Nana’) Care

The Dwarf Balsam Fir, otherwise known as the Abies Balsamea ‘Nana’ or Balsam Fir ‘Nana’, Nana Balsam Fir, Abies balsamea ‘Nana’, Abies balsamea f. hudsonia, Abies balsamea ‘Hudsonia’, is a rather well known shrub plant by gardening enthusiasts around the world.

Best known for its low maintenance and slow growth, this shrub will likely liven up your house (or garden) with its dark green colored leaves. But, only if you learn how to take proper care of it for it to thrive.

Fortunately, this is exactly what we’ll cover in this Dwarf Balsam Fir Care Guide. So let’s dive in.

In order to take proper care of your Dwarf Balsam Fir you’ll need to keep in mind the following guidelines:

  • Water: The Dwarf Balsam Fir will thrive with intervals of deep watering during the growing season will do the plant a lot of good. Otherwise, reduce watering once established.
  • Light: Keep your Abies Balsamea ‘Nana’ in an environment where it can receive full sun on a daily basis. 
  • Soil: Make sure to keep the Dwarf Balsam Fir in soil with moist but well-draining properties, so ideally, one that is made of sand, loam, and clay.

And that’s practically it! If you keep these three factors in check, your Dwarf Balsam Fir will likely have all it needs for it to survive and even thrive.

Dwarf Balsam Fir stem

Scientific / Botanical Aspects

In botanical terms, the Dwarf Balsam Fir belongs to the Pinaceae family, the genus Abies and the species Balsamea, hence its scientific (or botanical) name Abies Balsamea ‘Nana’ (A-beez bal-SAM-ee-uh NAN-uh).

The Pinaceae family also includes other plants like Pinus Mugo variety “Pumilio”, Dwarf Pine ‘Carstens’, Sherwood Compact Mugo Pine, Pinus Contorta Var. Contorta, Abies Lasiocarpa ‘Glauca Compacta’, Japanese Red Pine ‘Low Glow’, Abies Koreana ‘Horstmann’S Silberlocke’, Lantana Camara ‘Monike’ Plant Patent #17,612, Aurea Serbian Spruce, Photinia X Fraseri, Picea Mariana ‘Nana’, Pinus Flexilis ‘Vanderwolf’S Pyramid’, Weymouth Pine ‘Nana’, Baltic Redwood ‘Glauca’, Raspberry Lemonade™ Ninebark, Austrian Pine, Pinus Taeda, Dwarf Pine ‘Mops’, Nidiformis Norway Spruce, Picea Abies ‘Pumila’, Abies Concolor ‘Blue Cloak’, Alberta Spruce ‘Echiniformis’, Golden Himalayan Cedar, Columnar Blue Atlas Cedar, Compact Tanyosho Japanese Red Pine and Black Pine.

As with other Abies’s, the Dwarf Balsam Fir is an evergreen plant, which means it will be present year round in your garden.

Growing Region

The Dwarf Balsam Fir is a plant native to the North America.

As a rule of thumb, we recommend to always keep in mind your plants’ native region and environment, since these are the conditions that your Dwarf Balsam Fir is most accustomed to, thus where it can most favorably.

With this in mind, the Abies Balsamea ‘Nana’ will be most used to the heat zones in the 1 – 6 region, as the plant hardiness level falls between 3a, 3b, 4b, 4a, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7b, 7a and the ideal climate zone is between 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 15, 16, 17, A3.

Growth and Size


In terms of size and growth, the Dwarf Balsam Fir is a relatively slow grower, which makes things easy for any plant enthusiast.


But, what size of Dwarf Balsam Fir are we talking about? What can you expect in terms of height, spread and spacing? Let’s dig in…

The Abies Balsamea ‘Nana’ can grow up to 1′ – 2′ (30cm – 60cm) in 1′ – 2′ (30cm – 60cm) and 1′ – 2′ (30cm – 60cm) in 1′ – 2′ (30cm – 60cm). 

These dimensions make the Dwarf Balsam Fir a relatively medium shrub compared to others, so it’s best to keep this fact in mind since it will affect where you want to keep yours at home.

Also, expect it to grow in a wonderful rounded shape, which is something worthwhile to remember when making your garden landscape plans.

This is why experts recommend keeping an area of approximately 24″ (60cm) free so the Dwarf Balsam Fir can spread to its best extent.


In terms of watering, the Dwarf Balsam Fir is a fairly complicated plant to take care of.

This is mostly because it has a not so straightforward watering schedule and somewhat regular watering needs.

Specifically, most experts agree that the Abies Balsamea ‘Nana’ will thrive with intervals of deep watering during the growing season will do the plant a lot of good. Otherwise, reduce watering once established.

Which is why it is considered a plant with relatively average needs in terms of water. 

Dwarf Balsam Fir care


As a rule of thumb, you should remember to keep your Dwarf Balsam Fir in soil with moist but well-draining characteristics, as these will guarantee the right conditions for your plant to grow and thrive. 

When you consider this, this is why you should aim to choose soil that has good drainage, and moist properties to keep the right moisture levels at all times. 

But, if you want a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to watering your Dwarf Balsam Fir then you should consider the famous ‘finger’ test. To perform this test, you just need to put your finger in your plant’s soil and determine if it’s moist or not. If it is, then don’t water; if it isn’t, then please do. In any case, this test will allow you to know if your Dwarf Balsam Fir needs or does not need water, every time.

Soil Mix

As mentioned earlier, the Dwarf Balsam Fir prefers to have soil with good drainage, and moist properties at all times, reason why you need to make the soil mix out of sand, loam, and clay.

This is why most experts agree that the Dwarf Balsam Fir requires soil with loam (silt), and sand, which will give you the right conditions it needs.

In addition to this, expert gardeners recommend having preferably neutral to acid soil.

Light and Exposure

In terms of light & exposure, the Dwarf Balsam Fir requires full sun in order for it to thrive under the right conditions. 

Most experts agree that this shrub will do well as long as you keep it in full sun, and it will be able to grow properly.

Specifically, we recommend that you place your Abies Balsamea ‘Nana’ in little to partial shade (only 2-6 hours of direct sunlight a day), to full and direct sun (more 6 hours of direct sunlight per day).


Being an evergreen plant, the Dwarf Balsam Fir will be present year round in your garden.

But, you can expect it to have its ‘prime-time’ during the spring (early, mid, late), the summer (early, mid, late), the fall, and during the winter.


The leaves from the Dwarf Balsam Fir have a beautiful dark green color during most of the year.

In particular, they have a simple arrangement with a other/more complex and whorled organization in its leaves.

You can expect the leaves from your Abies Balsamea ‘Nana’ to be around (1-3 inches) in size.

Dwarf Balsam Fir fruits


Does your Dwarf Balsam Fir have any garden recommendations? Does it serve any gardening purposes? Here’s how you can get the most out of your new plant.

Most Abies Balsamea ‘Nana’ owners agree that this shrub will look great in most contemporary, asian/zen and rustic gardens of all types. 

Other owners consider that they complement well most gardens of informal and cottage, city and courtyard, gravel and rock garden, and in traditional garden styles. 

In particular, the Dwarf Balsam Fir’s best location within your garden is in patio and containers, beds and borders, and in small gardens, others use it for landscaping in a rock garden, border, or a wildlife garden.

Companion Plants

Dwarf Balsam Fir’s do well with some other plants beside it. One good companion plant is the Pinus, which will pair up nicely with your leafy friend.

Others consider that a nice Cornus will work well too, so choose whichever you find works best for you!


Even though we covered a lot of care information for your Dwarf Balsam Fir, remember the basics: sunlight, soil and water, as these should be enough to grow a healthy plant at home.

Martin Duran

Hey y'all! My name is Martin Duran and I am from Cali, Colombia. Since 2018 I have been learning about plants and how to take care of them. Here's is my journey... “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” ― John Muir

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