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Grow the Best - Conifers

Leyland conifers make a good screenConifers are popular in the contemporary landscape as they are able to serve so many functions. Conifers add permanence to the garden and besides their evergreen winter colouring there are many that can be clipped into hedges and form topiaries. With gardens becoming smaller and the tendency to build multi-storeyed homes, conifers make the most stunning space-saving hedges and screens. Conifers are one of the easiest plants to care for and they also do well in containers. They are cost-effective and ideal for low-maintenance gardening. Most are slow growing and form a lasting part of the skeleton of the garden.




Conifers make striking container plants

Conifers grow best when planted and fed with organic fertilisers. Add liberal amounts of compost to the soil, particularly if it is a heavy clay soil as conifers do not grow well in soggy conditions. Add Bone-meal for strong root growth and Bio Ganic for general growth to the soil mix and return it to the hole. Water the plant before removing the bag or pot. Place the plant at the same depth as it was in the bag/pot and firm down soil. Water the plant directly after planting. When planting in containers use potting soil as it is specially formulated for optimum drainage not provided by garden soil. Don’t forget to add a drainage layer of river sand at the bottom of the container. Make sure that the pots are of adequate size that allows the roots to concentrate in the middle of the container.


Conifers are sun-loving, drought-tolerant and hardy to severe frost. Their modified leaves make them "water-wise" and they are generally not fussy as to soil type. We recommend feeding established conifers with BioGanic in autumn, spring and mid-summer. Maintaining a layer of mulch around their base helps to keep them in good condition. Conifers in containers must be fed with the organic water soluble Nitrosol or Seagro every two weeks. Pruning and shaping of conifers is often not necessary as they keep their shape from young plants to mature specimens. When shaped into spirals or standards always shape soft growth as few conifers will branch or rejuvenate when cut to hardwood.

What can go wrong?

The Italian Cypress Aphid may attack certain conifer species in the winter months and into spring. The damage, brown tips on random parts of the plant, normally only shows in September and October. Apply a cover spray or a root drench with a systemic insecticide. Systemic insecticides have a longer residual action. Efekto Plant Protector and Aphicide plus are absorbed by the plant and only kill sap-sucking insects and not beneficial ones. Start treatments from February and into autumn and again late July for a winter application.
When conifers have yellow and dry brown patches in early summer we are inclined to blame it on the Italian Cypress Aphids, however this can often be caused by lack of water, especially with newly planted conifers. Ants on conifers are an indication that the plant has common aphids and the ants will disappear when the conifer is treated for the aphid.