Conifers, Backbones of Landscaping

By Ronald Elardo | January 25, 2017
Image by Ronald J. Elardo
by Ronald Elardo
January 25, 2017

Conifers are some of the most versatile genera the gardener can use in creating a landscape.

The name conifer comes from two Latin words: conus and ferro, which together mean cone-bearing.

Conifers are monoecious. That is, they have both male and female cones on their branches.

Picea abies 'Acrocona'

Picea abies ‘Acrocona’

Conifers come in all shapes and sizes. There is the classic Christmas tree shape. There are rounded, bush-like varieties. There are those which weep and bend; those which snake their way across the landscape.

Picea pungens

Picea pungens

Larix kaempferi (American Larch)

Larix kaempferi (American Larch)

Pinus banksiana 'Uncle Fogy'

Pinus banksiana ‘Uncle Fogy’

Pinus strobus 'Pendula'

Pinus strobus ‘Pendula’

-placead-There are large conifers, dwarf conifers, intermediate-sized conifers, and miniature conifers. Dwarf conifers, which can reach 30 feet in height or length, are the largest class-sized conifers, growing 6 inches annually. Conifers make for intriguing bonsai. Some conifers look like cactuses, such as the Araucariaceae, ‘Monkey Puzzle’ being one.

Araucaria araucana 'Monkey Puzzle Tree'

Araucaria araucana ‘Monkey Puzzle Tree’

Then there are the multiplicities of colors and color-combinations: grays, blues, blue-grays, yellows, greens of all shades. Some have three colors on each needle.

Pinus densiflora 'Golden Ghost'

Pinus densiflora ‘Golden Ghost’

Conifers have needles, and then some don’t. There is lacy foliage, soft needles and rigid, pinchy needles. All are solar-collectors for the plants, just like leaves. In fact, needles are leaves and are often referred to as such.

xCupressocyparis leylandii 'Irish Eyes'

xCupressocyparis leylandii ‘Irish Eyes’

Conifers are pest- and disease-resistant, for the most part. Some conifers lose their foliage in the fall. They are deciduous conifers.

Conifers can be pruned and shaped so that they become niwaki, bonsai-like, but in the ground.

John Jacob Vrablic Garden in Rossford, Ohio. niwaki

John Jacob Vrablic Garden in Rossford, Ohio. niwaki

Conifers exhibit an array of colored cones in spring. They are like flowers. Purples, reds, whites, greens, chartreuses, blacks. The cones themselves display all shapes and sizes too. Some look themselves like miniature conifers, while others look like bullets. There are even foot-long cones.

The gardener’s palette of conifers can mix and match all the characteristics of conifers to create a multi-textual and multi-colored backdrop for a sea of interest in the landscape.

Conifers may be grown as container plants.

Acer palmatum 'Crimson Queen'

Acer palmatum ‘Crimson Queen’

Picea pungens 'Gold Find'

Picea pungens ‘Gold Find’

Conifers thrive in all USDA Zones of the US, including Alaska and Hawaii. Tropical conifers are some of the most interesting ones.

The American Conifer Society maintains a free data base on its website of all the genera and species and even cultivars (i.e. cultivated varieties),












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  • David Brown
    Comment added November 15, 2019Reply

    Attempt to focus primarily on overshadow and littler conifers, as enormous size trees will in general overwhelm and congest most home nurseries. Here are some incredible decisions for around the nation, however certain regions may require an outing to your nearby nursery to find what works as far as concerns you of the nation. a nursery expert may have recommendations that may defeat the impediments. Continuously search around, costs for evergreens can fluctuate generally from plant to plant, and from nursery to can Visit Coniferkingdom for buying the conifers.

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