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How to Grow and Care for Conifers?


Conifers can be great ornamental additions to your garden but they need the proper growing conditions and care to thrive. If you plan to add conifers to your garden, here are some of the best tips to ensure you get flourishing plants.

Planting Conifers

The best times to plant are spring and early fall. You can plant on an overcast day when there is ample soil moisture in order to reduce transpiration or water loss from the tree. Conifers grow best in full sun, and a little afternoon shade is best for dwarfs. For planting conifers, you may dig a hole twice the width of and more shallow than the height of the root ball.

If planting in a container, loosen the roots by firmly tapping around the pot with the palm of your hand. Make sure that you trim any roots that may be growing out of the drainage holes. In order to prevent the roots from girdling and killing the plant, the circling bases should carefully be loosened by hand or with a small hand cultivator prior to planting.

Also, ensure that the trunk flare is slightly higher than the surrounding soil to compensate for settling, especially if your soil is heavy or poorly drained. You may use excess soil to create a rim around the plant as it will allow water to collect, thus keeping the plant moist until established and also providing extra soil when settling occurs. Make sure that you water thoroughly after planting.


Most conifers prefer slightly acidic soil that is loamy and well-drained. You may not need to add organic matter unless the soil is very compacted or if it retains very little moisture. If soil drainage continues to be a problem, you may even consider raising a planting bed to improve the soil.

Water Requirement for Conifers

You need to take care of the plant until new roots are established. Check the plant every two to three days for the first few weeks for signs of stress, and water it whenever the soil feels dry. Once the roots have grown out into the surrounding soil in three to six months, they can be checked less frequently. Remember that established plantings need supplemental water only during periods of prolonged drought. The amount of water the plant needs will depend on the species and the soil type.

Water thoroughly, especially if the top 2-3 inches of soil feel dry. Deep water the plant when needed, then frequently shallow water. It is important that conifers do not show signs of stress as readily as other plants. Conifers seldom wilt; instead, the overall plant colour will lighten or fade, and interior needles will turn brown.


Keep in mind that conifers are not heavy feeders and only need an annual application of a general, complete garden fertiliser or a top dressing of well-rotted manure. The best time to fertilise is early spring before the plants break dormancy or in late fall before the soil freezes.

Pruning and Maintenance

Make sure that you immediately remove dead or diseased branches, regardless of the time of year. Other pruning should be done when the plant is dormant. Remember that most conifers cannot re-sprout from older wood; therefore, never remove more than one-third of the total growth at a time. Pruning too drastically may never fully recover the plant.


This is how you grow and maintain your conifers in the garden. Strictly follow these tips to have healthy conifers.

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