Caring for Conifer Trees
Planting, Soils and Care
Conifers are not generally fussy as torequirements and many, particularly the dwarf forms, can be grown in quite thin impoverished soil. However it will be necessary to qualify this by saying some conifers will do much better than others in such conditions. Juniperus are particularly adaptable and will survive and prosper where many other genera will not. On extremely chalky or limey soils Juniperus and Taxas can be relied upon to thrive and this gives more choice than might appear, as there is a wide range of plants represented in these genera.
Most gardens however will contain reason-able enough soil to grow most of the conifers shown in this section on conifers. The conifers one sees in gardens in the neighbourhood should give you some idea as to the potential. Many failures are cultural and not due to soil and if the following procedures are followed your plants should stand the best chance of success:
Obtain good quality plants.
Get a reasonable weed free tilth of soil to put the plants in.
Make sure if planting in a border or in grass, that you have a large enough hole for the plant.
Most conifers will not need fertilizers, but it can only do good to mix in a well balanced granular fertilizer with the soil prior to planting. For those lucky enough to obtain some well rottedor farmyard manure this dug or mixed with the soil will help give extra colour and vigour to the plant, help to conserve moisture in dry soils and help drainage in heavy soils.
The siting of conifers is of some importance, particularly the golden foliage varieties. These should be in full sun to obtain the best colour although certain varieties do tend to winter burn, or scorch in extremely bright hot weather. This is of fairly rare occurrence and of course is not limited only to these types, but it is still worthwhile keeping any golden foliage variety out of a very draughty or exposed position. It has often been mentioned that if golden conifers colour better in the sun, blue or greycolour better in semi-shade conditions. I have not really found this to be the case, although these forms will do well in such conditions.
For garden conifers pruning is sometimes necessary to improve shape. A conifer may produce two or more main leading shoots and to obtain a better shaped tree the best leader should be selected, the others cut out. Some prostrate or semi-prostrate Junipers may become overgrown and unshapely and need pruning back to make a more compact plant. Or of course, the ultimate, you may wish to make a conifer hedge.