Hemlock: tips for planting and grooming outdoors

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Hemlock: tips for planting and grooming outdoors
Hemlock: tips for planting and grooming outdoors

Characteristics of the hemlock plant, how to plant and care, use in landscape design, recommendations for reproduction, protection against pests and diseases, interesting notes, species and varieties.

Tsuga is found under the name Tsuga. The plant is part of the genus of conifers of the flora, assigned to the Pine family (Pinaceae). The native habitat falls on the lands of the North American continent and Asia. These territories are characterized by a temperate climate. However, Japan is recognized as the homeland. Several types of hemlock and its varieties were brought to Russia and some neighboring countries, including Canadian hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) and variegated hemlock (Tsuga diversifolia).

According to information provided by The Plant List database, which corresponds to 2016, there are a dozen species of hemlock in the genus, with six of them native to Asia, and the rest in North America.


The plant among all members of the family is the most shade-tolerant, however, while the hemlock is young, its growth is very insignificant.

Family name Pine
Growing period Perennial
Vegetation form Tree-like
Breeds Seeds or cuttings, varietal forms by grafting
Open ground transplant terms April or August
Landing rules Each plant should have 1–1.5 m
Priming Light, loose, fresh
Soil acidity values, pH 6, 5-7 (neutral) or 5, 5-6 (slightly acidic)
Illumination level Diffuse lighting or even full shadow
Humidity level Abundant and regular watering
Special care rules Top dressing of young trees, spring pruning
Height options 20–65 m
Flowering period End of April or beginning of June
Type of inflorescences or flowers Male and female cones
Color of flowers Brown and grayish brown
Fruit type Winged seeds
The timing of fruit ripening 5-7 months after flowering
Decorative period Year-round
Application in landscape design Planting in groups or as a specimen plant, formation of alleys
USDA zone 4 and more

For the first time, scientists discovered these representatives of the flora in the 18th century on the territory of the North American continent, then it was decided to include them in the genus of Fir (Abies). When similar plants were found in Japanese lands, the local name "tsuga" was taken as the basis. The first description was given by the famous flora taxonomist Karl Linnaeus in the 2nd edition of Species plantarum, published in 1863. In the published work, the tree was called Pinus canadensis, later this name was changed to Tsuga canadensis.

All representatives of the genus have a long-term life cycle and a tree-like vegetative form, but there are forms that look like drooping shrubs. They are characterized by both medium and large height parameters. These values ​​vary within the range of 25–65 m. The hem of the hemlock has a conical outline or an asymmetric ovoid contour (this is usually inherent in some Asian species). In the crown, the main branches usually grow hanging, as if falling off.

The bark covering the hemlock stems is gray or brown in color, but at a young age there is a reddish-brown tint. The surface of the bark is scaly, often covered with deep fractures. Branches growing horizontally have flattening and downward bending. Those of the hemlock shoots that are shortened have moderate development.Young branches and lateral parts of the stem with bends, hanging down, after the foliage has flown around, their coarsening begins from the hooked projections.

The leaves (needles) of hemlock have the ability to form one by one, their life span stretches over several years. The coniferous mass is located in two rows or it can diverge around the circumference in all directions. The leaf shape can be linear-lanceolate or flat, there is a sharp narrowing that looks like a petiole, and at the tip there is a sharpening, notch or roundness. Hemlock needles grow on hooked projections directed at an angle to the top of the shoot. Such leaves are devoid of sheaths. On the back you can see two parallel stripes. The length of the needles is 1, 5–2 cm. The color of the hemlock needles becomes dark green with aging, but the young leaves are light green.

Hemlock is a monoecious plant. Her buds have a rounding at the ends, they do not emit resin. 2-3 pairs of cotyledons are formed. The flowering period (although this process can be called so conventionally) takes the period from late April or early June. At the tree, male and female cones are formed on separate specimens. The length of male cones is no more than 0.8 cm, the arrangement is single. They are brown and round in shape. Usually male cones appear on young shoots after a year. In grayish-brown female hemlock cones, the outlines are different - ovoid or oblong. Such cones grow, drooping, devoid of petioles, or they sit on a shortened leg. They also develop in a year on young twigs, but ripening occurs after 5-7 months.

In hemlock, the thin cone scales of the cones have a leathery and smooth surface, while they are devoid of both the protrusion and the most terminal protruding part (apophysis). Pollination occurs through the wind. After this process is completed, ripe seeds begin to scatter from the female hemlock cones. Then the empty cones can fly around or remain on the branch for several years.

The seeds are 3–5 mm long and 2–3 mm thick. The hemlock seeds are winged, they have a large number of very small resin bubbles. The winglet is thin, covering the seed around the circumference. Its length is 5–10 mm.

The plant is quite easy to care for and, unlike other plants in the family, can easily tolerate shade. In addition, it can be noted that it is more decorative in comparison with the usual pines or spruces.

How to plant and care for a hemlock on a personal plot

Tsugi bush
  1. Landing place such plants can be picked up both in diffused lighting and in full shade, since, unlike the “brothers” from the pine family, the hemlock tolerates shade perfectly. It is worth noting that you should not land on an open location fully illuminated by the sun's rays, since direct streams of ultraviolet radiation will spoil the coniferous mass. It is recommended to approach the choice of a place for planting hemlock with special care, since the plant negatively tolerates transplants. Hemlock trees have been observed to show the best growth in the vicinity of water bodies or on their banks.
  2. Soil for hemlock choose fresh, light and nutritious. The soil mixture is made up of a leaf and sod substrate, with the addition of river sand and peat chips in a ratio of 2: 2: 1: 1. Acidity indicators should be neutral - approximately pH 6, 5–7 or slightly acidic in the range of 5, 5–6. Even a small amount of lime in the soil will slow down the growth rate and cause disease.
  3. Landing hemlock. To plant seedlings, it is recommended to wait until mid-spring or August. In this case, each plant should be allocated from a meter to one and a half free space. For planting, it is recommended to dig a hole no deeper than 0.7 m. When planting a hemlock seedling, mineral fertilizers should be mixed into the soil composition.So in one planting hole there should be 100–150 grams of the drug. The mixture must be mixed very well before using it. It is worth laying a drainage layer at the bottom, covering it with soil, so that the drainage is not visible, and only then put the plant on it. The thickness of such a layer is maintained at about 15 cm. The drainage can be river coarse-grained sand or fine expanded clay. To exclude damage to the root system of the hemlock, the transplant is carried out by the transshipment method, that is, without destroying the earthen lump surrounding the root system of the seedling. After planting, abundant watering and mulching of the trunk circle is performed. Peat or sawdust can act as mulch.
  4. Watering when caring for a hemlock, an abundant and regular one is required, since the plant is moisture-loving. But it is worth not allowing the substrate to become waterlogged, as this can provoke rotting of the root system. So, for an adult specimen, you should use a bucket (10-12 liters) of water. In dry and hot weather, the crown is sprayed with water. To do this, use a garden hose nozzle for sprinkling. This will help to increase the humidity of the environment. Such irrigation is performed 2-3 times a week.
  5. Fertilizers when growing hemlock, it is recommended to apply only until the plant reaches three years of age. Subsequently, the tree will have enough trace elements, which will come from its own fallen coniferous mass. Such means can be Agricol or Ecoplant intended for conifers.
  6. Pruning. When the hemlock is a young tree, then she will not need pruning, then as she grows up, it is worth doing this both for molding and for sanitary purposes. The plant responds normally to this procedure. It is recommended to prune the branches in the spring. Cut off parts of the branches that are knocked out of the general outline of the crown, and also remove those shoots that broke, dried out or got sick during the winter period. It is also worth getting rid of the branches that thicken the crown too much.
  7. Wintering. The plant is characterized by excellent winter hardiness, so the hemlock will not need a shelter. However, when the trees are still young, it is worth covering the soil in the near-trunk circle with spruce branches or covering it with crushed peat with the arrival of autumn cold weather. It happens that in winter the coniferous mass of hemlock can take on a reddish tint, but this is not evidence of any diseases or problems.
  8. General advice on caring for a hemlock. Like any plant that is grown in a personal plot, so this evergreen tree needs to loosen the soil in the root zone. This will help air to penetrate the root system. But this operation is carried out carefully, not allowing deepening by more than 10 cm.Weeding is also combined with loosening. To keep the soil moist for a longer time, and the growth of weeds is not too rapid, it is recommended to mulch the trunk circle with peat chips or sawdust.
  9. The use of hemlock in landscape design. Although the basic types are also quite decorative, their various varieties are often used in landscape design. If the tree is large and its crown has a pyramidal shape, then it can be planted as a tapeworm in the central part of the lawn. Cultivars with drooping and weeping outlines will look good near gates or fences.

See also tips for planting and caring for cypress trees in the garden.

Recommendations for breeding hemlock

Hemlock grows

To obtain new plants of this representative of the pine family, the seed or vegetative method is used. In the latter case, this is cuttings.

Reproduction of hemlock using seeds

It has been noticed that seeds capable of germination are formed on trees that have crossed the 20-year line.Sowing of seed material is carried out in small seedling pots or containers filled with a loose and nutritious substrate (you can use a peat-sand mixture). After that, the container with crops is placed for 3-4 months for stratification in cool conditions, where the heat indicators will be in the range of 3-5 degrees. This place can be the basement or the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. After the expiration of the specified period, the container with hemlock seeds is moved to a room where the temperature will not go beyond 15-18 degrees Celsius.

When sprouts are seen on the surface of the soil, the temperature is brought to 19-23 degrees. Hemlock seedlings sprout rather slowly and not too amicably. Usually the germination rate is 50% of all seeds sown. In such greenhouse conditions, seedlings are grown for 2-3 years, providing them with diffused, but good lighting, watering and feeding. And only then will they be ready for planting in open ground conditions.

Reproduction of hemlock using cuttings

Cuttings can be carried out during the spring months. For this, the blanks are cut from the side branches, grabbing the heel - a piece of the trunk body. It is recommended to treat the cut with a root stimulator (for example, heteroauxinic acid or Kornevin). The planting of branches is carried out in pots filled with a peat-sand mixture at an angle of about 60 degrees. Until the rooting of cuttings is completed, it is necessary to maintain heat indicators within 20-24 degrees, as well as high humidity. To do this, you can put a glass jar or a plastic bottle on the cuttings, to which the bottom is cut. Only in this case will it be necessary to perform daily ventilation.

Lighting when caring for hemlock cuttings will need diffused lighting. When the seedlings take root, they can be transplanted to a prepared spot in the garden. At the same time, it is noted that such plants can perfectly cope with frost without any shelter for the winter.

Only for varietal forms is propagation by grafting applied. To do this, you can use Canadian hemlock as a stock.

Protection against pests and diseases when growing hemlock in the garden

Needles Tsugi

A big problem when growing this coniferous tree in open ground conditions is created by such pests as spider mites and pine needles scabbard, as well as hemlock moth and hemlock needles mite. These insects are engaged in sucking nutritious juices from the coniferous mass, then it turns yellow, dries and flies around. To deal with such "uninvited visitors", it is recommended to use insecticidal preparations of a wide spectrum of action. Today, there are a large number of them in flower centers, the most popular are Aktara and Aktellik, Karbofos and Fitoverm.

Small rodents gnawing at the bark at the base of the plant can also damage the hemlock plantings. To get rid of it, it is recommended to tie the trunks with straw for the winter or lay out traps.

If the irrigation regime was violated and the soil was in a waterlogged state for a long time, then the hemlock may develop rotting of the root system. With such an infection, a slowdown of the already not too high growth rate occurs, ultimately leading to the death of the tree.

Read also about the control of diseases and pests when cultivating Rogers

Interesting notes and applications of hemlock

Hemlock in the ground

Since the hemlock bark contains a large amount of tannins, it has long been used in folk and official medicine. If a decoction is prepared on the basis of the bark, then it can be used to lubricate wounds and treat skin inflammations. This remedy will help stop bleeding. The needles of the plant also have medicinal properties, since they are saturated with essential oils and ascorbic acid. On the basis of hemlock needles, tea is prepared, which helps to strengthen the immune system and overcome diseases caused by viruses.

Official medicine has revealed that the essential oil obtained from parts of the plant can serve as an antiseptic and antibacterial agent, it is used due to its diuretic and expectorant effect. It is recommended to conduct aromatherapy sessions for inflammatory processes in the throat or swelling of the sinuses. This remedy will help eliminate eczema on the skin. Because of its aroma, hemlock essential oil is actively used not only for medical purposes, but also in the perfume industry.

Curiously, the North American Indians used the hemlock to weave baskets, and the needles imparted a pleasant coat color. Although until the 40th year of the last century, the branches of the plant were considered very winding, after this period the opinion changed and they began to be actively used as material for cutting. Applicable hemlock wood for the manufacture of wall cladding, furniture and flooring.

In landscape design, experts recommend planting hemlock as a tapeworm or in group plantings in areas prone to soil erosion.

In areas of natural growth, large hemlock trees are a favorite hideout for black bears. This is because the plant itself is capable of living up to 400-800 years of age.

The tsuga (tsuga) most likely got its name due to the fact that if you grind the needles, then the substance released has a smell that resembles the poison of such a herb like cicuta, but this representative of conifers has no poisonous properties.

Description of the types and varieties of hemlock

In the photo, Canadian Hemlock

Canadian Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)

is the most famous species in the genus. It is a monoecious plant. The area of ​​natural growth belongs to the east of the North American continent. It is cultivated all over the world, mainly due to its shade tolerance and frost resistance. It has a tree-like shape, the height reaches 20-30 m, while the trunk in diameter varies within 0, 6-1, 2 cm. The outlines are slender, the crown is wide in the form of a cone, the branches grow horizontally and hang down a little. The color of the bark of young Canadian hemlock plants is reddish or dark brown, it is formed by scales. Gradually, coarsening of the bark occurs, it is covered with deep grooves. The color changes to grayish brown. The scales tend to flake off. When the bark of the Canadian hemlock breaks, dots of purple color appear on its parts. When the specimen is adult, the thickness of the cortex reaches 1, 3–2 cm.

The needles of the plant are flat; their length reaches 5–15 mm. The top of the leaf is dull. The color of the coniferous mass on top is dark emerald, and there is also a longitudinally running groove. The underside of the needles is light green and two narrow stripes are visible there. The outlines of the Canadian hemlock needles narrow into a kind of small petiole, which is attached to the branch with small pads.

Since the plant is dioecious, male or female cones are formed at the tips of the branches. Their shape is oval, the color is grayish-brown. In length, the cone reaches 2.5 cm. The cones are filled with small seeds, measuring 1–2 mm. Their shape is ovoid, the seeds are supplied with wings. The color of the small male strobilus (cones) is yellow, their shape is rounded, the female strobilus have a light greenish tint.

In decorative cultivation, the following varieties of Canadian hemlock are very popular:

  1. Nana It is represented by a plant with dwarf dimensions, not exceeding the mark of 1 m, while the width reaches only 1, 6 m. Shoots grow in a horizontal plane in relation to the trunk, widely spreading, while their tops hang down. The branches are shortened and appear prominent. The length of the needles is about 2 cm with a width of 1 mm. Its color is green, the upper side is glossy. The variety is distinguished by winter hardiness, hardiness to shady locations and moisture-loving. Reproduction is possible by sowing seeds or cuttings. It is most common in Western European regions.Recommended for decorating stone gardens or parterre lawns.
  2. Pendula a variety of Canadian hemlock characterized by special decorative qualities. It has several straight trunks and a fairly wide shape. The height is no more than 3–3, 5 m, while the width of such thickets reaches 9 m. The branches grow loose, horizontally moving away from the trunks. The location of the shoots is uneven, that is, not in one area. Young shoots have oblique cut outlines. The growth rate is rather insignificant. Applicable as a tapeworm plant. It happens that it is grafted onto a high stem, so that weeping contours are subsequently acquired.
  3. Jeddeloh also a widespread variety, the height of the trunks of which does not exceed one and a half meter indicators. The form of the shoot of this type of hemlock is semicircular and there is a depression in the form of a funnel. The branches grow in a spiral pattern. The bark takes on a purple-grayish hue. The color of the coniferous mass is bright or light green. The shape of the hard needles is flat; the length of the needles varies from 8 to 16 cm with a width of only 1 to 2 mm.
  4. Everitt Golden characterized by yellow needles.
  5. Albospica a variety of Canadian hemlock, in which the needles have a variegated color, since their tops are yellowish-whitish. The height of the plant does not exceed 3 m, it has graceful outlines.
  6. Minuta represented by dwarf dimensions, about half a meter. The crown is formed uneven, has a compressed shape, while the parameters of height and width are the same. The length of annual shoots is measured only 1 cm. The length of the needles is 10 cm with a width of 1–2 mm. The upper part of the needles has a dark or bright green color, whitish grooves are present on the back. The tip of the needles is pointed. Seed propagation is recommended.
  7. Verkade Recurved. This variety of Canadian hemlock has a stocky outline and dwarf size. The growth rate is low. The crown has irregular broad-pyramidal outlines. The branches are thickened, growing wide open. In this case, the shoots are characterized by fragility. The needles have a curved shape. When the shoots are young, their color is light green, the contours are bent in the form of hooks, which allows them to stand out against the background of the dark-colored old coniferous mass. There is a grade Curlyhaving similar characteristics, but a higher growth rate.
  8. Vermeulen Wintergold may occur under the name "Winter-gold". Originally from the United States. It is a tree of large parameters. The growth per year is approximately 15 cm. Reaching a height, such a variety of Canadian hemlock is measured 2.5 m. The crown has a narrow pyramidal shape. The branches have an arcuate bend, with their ends drooping down. The color of young shoots is yellowish, which more or less does not change throughout the summer season. There is evidence that in the winter months the color of the coniferous mass is dark emerald.
In the photo Tsuga Karolinska

Carolina hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana)

represented by a small tree (no more than 15 m), characterized by heat lovingness. The crown has a conical shape. The branches grow horizontally and spread wide. The color of the bark on the pubescent young shoots is reddish-brown, but with age it acquires a gray color and deep cracks begin to cover it. The flatish needles are wide, reaching 1–1, 2 cm in length. The color of the coniferous mass is dark emerald, the upper side of the leaves-needles is glossy. On the reverse side, whitish stomatal lines are present on the needles. Cones are sessile, located at the very tops of the branches.

The length of the cone of the Karolinska hemlock exceeds the previous basic species and is 2–3.5 cm with a width of 2–2.5 cm. The color is light brown, there is a short scaly covering. The scales themselves are also pubescent.

The territory of natural growth of the Karolinska hemlock falls on the lands of the eastern part of North America. The cultivation of the species began to be engaged in since 1871.The growth rate is rather slow, while freezing is possible in winter.

In the photo Mountain Tsuga

Mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana)

may occur under the name Mertens. It is an endemic plant in mountainous areas in the west of the North American continent, growing in the coastal zone. The plant owes its specific name to the botanist from Germany Karl Heinrich Mertens (1796-1830). Evergreen coniferous tree, reaching a height of 40 m, with a trunk diameter of 1.5 m. The shape of the crown is conical. The color of the bark ranges from dark gray to brownish red. The surface of the bark has scales that gradually become covered with cracks. On the branches, the bark has a yellowish-brown color, and pubescence is also present there.

The length of the needles of the mountain hemlock is 10–25 mm. Needles grow diverging on the sides. They have a bend towards the tops of the shoots. Both sides of the needles are grayish-green in color. The stomatal lines on the back of the needles are not too pronounced.

The color of female cones is violet, but as it matures, it changes to a dark gray-brown or simply gray-brown. The outlines of the cones of the Mertensa hemlock are ovoid-cylindrical. Their length is 3–6 cm and a width of about 1, 5–2, 5 cm. The surface of the scales on the cone is pubescent. They are arranged in the form of a fan. The length of the scale is 8–11 mm. Sharpening or rounding may be present at the top.

Related article: Recommendations for planting and caring for yew in open field conditions

Video about growing hemlock in the garden:

Photos of hemlock:

Photo Tsugi 1 Photo Tsugi 2 Photo Tsugi 3 Photo Tsugi 4 Tsugi Photo 5

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