Conifer Care


Conifers grow wonderfully in the Pacific Northwest, typically pest free and needing little care. Following these few, but helpful tips will put you on a path for successful conifer growing.


In general coniferous trees prefer an acidic soil with good drainage, as they are prone to suffer from root diseases when surrounded by too much moisture. Most varieties prefer full sun, although ones with variegation or light colored needles typically benefit from afternoon shade.


Planting conifer trees is much like planting any other tree. Dig a hole double the width of the pot, and the same depth, if not a little shallower, as they tend to sink with time and irrigation, the key is to not bury the zone of cell division, which occurs where the trunk begins to flare. Place the tree so it is straight, and back fill with the native soil dug from the hole, if the soil is mainly clay, you can add some compost to the back fill, but no more than a third. You want to avoid creating a pot in the ground by adding too much compost and discouraging roots to branch out into the native soil. Conifers are also sensitive to rich soils, so adding additional compost to amend the soil can cause stunted growth and stress. After the tree is planted, mulch the tree in a doughnut fashion, making sure not to pile up mulch near the base of the tree.

More detailed techniques on planting trees


Many conifers have only one growth spurt annually making them slower growers and needing little if any pruning. In fact, unneeded pruning causes more problems than just letting it mature with little interference. If pruning is necessary, it is best to prune them during the growing season, and keeping in mind that most conifers do not grow back from old wood.

More on pruning conifers

The detrimental effects of topping conifers

Fertilizing and Pest Management

Use chemicals, and fertilizers sparingly on coniferous tree. Unlike deciduous trees, coniferous trees are not able to shed their leaves and go dormant in times of stress and are, therefore, more susceptible to harm by overly concentrated, or over exposure from treatment.