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Columnar conifer

gjautosgjautos Posts: 427
I really like these. I mean the really narrow type. But does anyone know if they are as bad for the soil as other conifers? Any conifers I see growing seem to turn soil to dust.


  • MarlorenaMarlorena Posts: 8,428
    Not in my experience, no... I have several, and I plant things quite close to them without problems... some Thuja roots can be a bit invasive on other plants and occasionally need a chopping back..
    East Anglia, England
  • gjautosgjautos Posts: 427
    Thanks @Marlorena, are they a fast grower?
  • MarlorenaMarlorena Posts: 8,428
    Well it depends which you are looking at... I go for slow growers, I don't want anything rapid.. the quickest I've had is Thuja 'Smaragd' and it isn't that quick in comparison to some others... Jacksons Nurseries give indications of whether one is fast, average or slow.. they have a good choice.. 
    East Anglia, England
  • gjautosgjautos Posts: 427
    Thank you. Yes I would prefer a slow grower. I will check out jacksons
  • Silver surferSilver surfer Posts: 4,641
    If you mean the really narrow ones please consider   ..common names Italian cypress, Mediterranean cypress

    I love Thuja occidentalis Smaragd, but it is fatter.
    We used a hedge of it to hid garage next door

    Perthshire. SCOTLAND .
  • ElferElfer Posts: 329
    Thuja smaragd with a single leading trunk can also be trained and clipped to look like a much smaller version of italian cypress.
  • GravelEaterGravelEater Posts: 124
    What columnar conifer are you looking for?

    Arguably one of the best for slow growing and manageability is the Taxus Baccata Standishii.  Pretty much all Yew are tolerant of pruning, so you can just cut out bits you don't like, for example if it started to go multi-stemmed or got a bit fat/conical - but it won't require pruning by default.  This one needs plenty of sun to keep the yellow colour, and if the shade of a wall covers one side, that side will be a much greener colour.
    Spring foliage comes out quite a light limey green colour, turning yellow over Winter.  Foliage inside turns darker green.  Red berries annually are attractive and make good food for birds.
    1-2 in. per year, maybe a 8 foot or so high and a foot wide in 20 years.

    Also check out other variants of Taxus Baccata, "Davidii" has yellow edged dark green leaves, with lighter spring foliage.  Also wider and faster growing.  Roots tend toward going wider than deep(?).  There is an extremely narrow green T.Baccata variety known as "Beanpole" which might be interesting.

    Thuja Occidentalis Brobecks Tower is a good choice for Thuja.  Similar growing rates to T.Bacata Standishii above.  Much slower and more slender than T.Occidentalis Smaragd.
    Tends to turn a little bronzy at the tips in Winter.  No pruning required.

    Juniperus Communis Compressa is a very small columnar, eventually losing the shape.  They only grow around 3 ft tall.  Pruning can't really be done as foliage in the middle dies off and won't regenerate.

    Cupressus Sempervirens Totem (Italian Cypress) is a very narrow, very tall tree.  We were planning on getting a few of these, but from experience with one and seeing older ones locally, they are a bit of a pain.  Snow is a problem, and will cause the branches to bend down and not come back up straight - so it requires tying in Winter to prevent this.  Pruning is not advised as they don't regenerate and will take time to fill out the void from surrounding branches.  They do grow rather tall and quickly too (6+ in. per year).  Prefers drier conditions.  Ultimately, too much hassle in our opinion, but many will disagree with me.

    Pinus Nigra Green Tower as far as pines go there aren't too many that are narrow and columnar, and the ones that tend to go up are rather beastly great trees. 4 in per year is a little on the quicker side.  Pines can be controlled to some degree with candle pulling/pruning, so there maybe more Pinus options if you are prepared for hands-on management.  Dark green fairly dense needle foliage with dark branches.

    Picea Pungens Iseli Fastigiate is a fast growing blue spruce.  We're already measuring 7 in growth this year!  It's not crazy narrow, but is much more narrow than many spruces.  Ours is still young but will look gorgeous in a few years.  I do love a blue spruce!  Read up on candle pulling and pruning to control this one.

    Chamaecyparis Lawsonia Columnaris a darker greeny blue than the spruces.  Pretty quick growth rate of 4 in per year or so.  As a young plant it looks rather silly and blade-like but does eventually flesh out with a quite pleasant almost feathery (from a distance) foliage.  A couple of feet wide when around 8 ft tall.  Eventually might become too large, like the spruce above.  Doesn't really enable pruning.

    Conifers, in general do compete for soil nutrients, and the faster it grows and larger it's ultimate size the more it's going to rob the ground.  However, it's not a rule that conifers must be planted solitary from other plants, so just read around the ones you like the look of.
  • gjautosgjautos Posts: 427
    Thanks everyone. @GravelEater it was the Italian cypress I was looking at but the name escaped me. 
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