Gardening: 5 ways to succeed with 'boring' conifers

When planting conifers, shake out the root ball, this makes it easier for the plant to grow its roots into the new soil

CONIFERS may have a reputation for being boring, but they add valuable colour and structure in winter. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when planting, according to plant specialist

1. Beware of pruning potted trees: The right location is crucial so potted trees can develop unhindered. A size-limiting cut should not be performed on conifers, as this is often a considerable interference with its beautiful habit.

2. Size matters: Check the final size of the conifer you are going to plant and take that into account when choosing where to plant it. Don't put a fast-growing, massive specimen where it's going to block light to the house or obstruct the path.

3. Give them space: Don't place dwarf conifers too close to other plants. If they are low-growing, they can quickly disappear between other shrubs and then become completely bare or lose their colour on one side.

Dwarf coniferous plants work best together individually, or in small groups with other weak-growing plants. Columnar conifers are well suited in pairs for marking entrances or passageways.

4. Where to plant: Most common conifers prefer a spot that's sunny or partially shaded, with neutral or slightly acidic soil. They don't like being waterlogged, so plant them in well-drained soil, but don't let it get too dry.

5. Loosen the roots: When planting, shake out the root ball, which makes it easier for the plant to grow its roots into the new soil. Make sure the conifers are not planted deeper than they were in the pot.

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