What are conifers?
Conifers are evergreens that grow from small roots and branches. They usually have one or two main branches, but they can branch out into many different directions. Conifer trees can reach heights of 30 feet (9 m) or even higher. Most conifer species live in temperate climates; however, some grow in warmer regions such as Australia and South America.
The term “conifer” comes from the Latin word conus meaning “two.” The idea behind having two main branches is that it gives them more strength and stability when needed. A tree’s trunk also helps support its weight.
A conifer tree is typically divided into three types: deciduous, evergreen, and mixed. Deciduous trees are those which die back completely each year after their leaves fall off. Evergreens, on the other hand, remain green all year round. Mixed conifers include coniferous and non-coniferous varieties.
Deciduous trees need lots of sunlight to produce new leaves. These trees do not require much water either since they lose most of their moisture through transpiration from their foliage. Some deciduous trees can survive drought conditions if they receive enough rainfall during dry periods. Deciduous trees typically lose their leaves gradually each year.
Evergreens are typically divided into two groups, softwoods and hardwoods. Softwood evergreens drop their needles each year and regrow new ones the next. This regrowth may happen in the spring, summer, or both. Hardwood evergreens keep their needles and leaves all year around.
Coniferous plants grow in clusters of rounded or pointed cylinders. They do not lose their leaves and regrow them every year. Their strong, woody stems protect their buds. These buds may be at the tips of branches or hidden in the small forks along the stem.
Coniferous plants can survive for many years without being cut down or destroyed.
It is important to know a bit about these trees before you start working with them. If you want to create a forest landscape, spend some time investigating the kinds of trees you would like to use. Different trees provide different benefits and require different amounts of attention.
Conifers are typically divided into the following groups:
Before you begin, you should read about what is involved in planting conifers. The internet has a wealth of information for you to use. This article should give you a good idea of what is involved with this subject.
After reading the facts, you can decide if you want to proceed or not. There are many different types of conifer species. They are grouped together based on similar characteristics and suitability for specialized areas and functions.
The cypress tree is an evergreen that grows about 40 to 130 feet in height (12 to 40.5 meters). These trees are typically short and have bushy foliage. They grow fairly quickly and adapt easily to different environments.
Cypress trees are relatively easy to maintain. They thrive in wet, swampy areas and can grow under water up to 40 percent of their trunk. A cypress tree’s branches grow in a regular pattern.
You may be interested in using cypress for decorative purposes such as for building furniture or for making into knees for arches. They have a relatively open space within their center and are perfect for decorating.
The juniper tree is an evergreen that grows up to 20 feet in height (6 meters). They typically do not grow over 15 feet tall. These trees tend to grow in areas with infrequent rain or during drought conditions. They can also grow in cold mountainous regions that other plants would not be able to survive in.
You may be interested in growing junipers for wood. The wood is typically a reddish color and is often used in making furniture. It is also easy to work with as it does not warp or crack easily when drying. Another common use for junipers is as a type of BBQ skewer.
The pine tree is an evergreen that grows up to 160 feet in height (48 meters). They typically grow in large clusters on branches. Pines are very resinous and release their scent whenever the bark is scratched off.
You may be interested in growing pines if you’re looking for a cheap Christmas tree. They also make great decorations and are relatively easy to maintain. If you’re looking for something a little nicer, you may choose to use pines as a type of windbreak to protect your other trees from harsh weather. They grow relatively fast and can be used as firewood.
The spruce tree is an evergreen that grows about 60 to 200 feet in height (18 to 61 meters). The needles on these trees grow in groups of two and have a dark color at the base and lightening as they reach the tips of the branches. Their bark is typically a reddish color.
You may be interested in using spruces for Christmas trees. They certainly are a large tree and have relatively low maintenance. As a conifer, they need to be planted away from areas with high water tables.
After you have made your decision, you’ll need to actually order the trees. This is typically done through the mail as nurseries don’t typically deliver trees. You can place your order by telephone or through the internet. If you do it online, make sure you have checked their reviews first and that they offer secure payment options.
Once you have placed your order, you will typically have to wait a few days for them to be delivered.
Once the trees arrive, you will need to prepare the soil in which you plant them in. Plan to have the trees between four and eight feet apart. Dig a hole about twice the width and depth of the container that the tree is in. After this, mix together compost, topsoil, and sand with the equal parts being appropriate for your area.
The roots will grow faster and thicker in healthy soil.
As you plant your trees, keep in mind that evergreens typically have shallow root systems. They also typically don’t like their roots to be covered by soil. Keep this in mind as you dig your holes and work with the tree after planting it. Water the trees well after planting them.
Keep in mind that as the trees grow and develop, you may need to trim them back a bit. This is especially true for pines and spruces as they typically grow very fast. Make sure you have good pruning shears and a saw on hand to assist you. Also, keep in mind that it typically takes the trees between five and ten years before they are mature enough to be sold as Christmas trees.
The best time to plant them is between September and November.
Once you have your trees in place, it is up to you to take care of them. This includes watering and fertilizing them on a regular basis. If you follow these steps, you should be able to grow a healthy crop of Christmas trees in no time at all.
Sources & references used in this article:
The man who made pines: David Douglas and his conifer introductions from the Pacific North West by A Farjon – 2008 – Timber Press
Insights into Tasmania’s cultural landscape: the conifer connection by S House – IV International Conifer Conference 615, 1999 – actahort.org
Conifers: South African methods of cultivation. by JE Eckenwalder – 2009 – Timber Press