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Exotic Needle Retention


During my twenty-five years of selling exotic conifers for Christmas trees at my farm in Sanbornton, NH, my customers would often ask me about needle retention. For example, they wondered if exotic species had needle retention as good as the Fraser Fir, which they were more familiar with. I told them that many exotics also have excellent needle retention and I personally cut and bring them into my house at Christmas so that I could observe how they held their needles. Over the years, I learned that some conifers are better than others at holding their needles.


Picea Meyeri

The following ratings are based on my own personal experience and the feedback I received from other growers. Based on this information, these are my top 5 species for needle retention. Also like many exotic conifers these five have beautiful foliage and they can hold the heavy ornaments.

  1. Picea Meyeri (Meyer spruce- Frosty Blue) Superior Needle Retention #1 (see photo)
  2. Abies Lasiocarpa var. arizonica (Corkbark fir-Blue Alpine) Superior Needle Retention
  3. Abies nordmanniana (Nordmann fir) Excellent Needle Retention
  4. Abies koreana (Korean fir) Excellent Needle Retention
  5. Abies bornmuelleriana (Turkish fir) Excellent Needle Retention


Many of you are growing exotic conifers and your list might look different from mine. I would like to hear from you about your experiences with needle retention with exotic conifers. You can email me at:

Thank you,
Bob Girardin