How to Grow and Take Care of a Canadian Hemlock Tree

When one thinks about the poison hemlock, and you’re aware of the classics where the Greek philosopher Socrates was forced to drink the poison, your mind is filled with images of the dead, so when you hear about the Canadian Hemlock tree you are worried about the potential risks to your health.

There is nothing to be frightened about – the Canadian Hemlock Tree is not the same plant. Actually, this member of the pine tree family has a bark full of useful tannins which are used for tanning hide for clothing, a business which boomed during the 19th and early 20th centuries. These trees are actually very common evergreens found in the eastern North American forests. Pyramidal or conical in shape and appearance, the Canadian Hemlock Tree with a fine texture thanks to the small needles which are dark green in color on the top with a light green coloring underneath. The bark of the trees varies between a cinnamon reddish color or a reddish brown.

Basic Facts

  1. Their botanical name is Tsuga canadensis, and their common names include Eastern or Canadian Hemlock Tree.
  2. They are Evergreen conifer trees.
  3. The Canadian Hemlock Tree’s mature size can be a healthy eighty feet or more in height, with a twenty-five up to thirty-foot spread.
  4. They grow best in conditions of a partial sun or partial shade, in rich and moist soil which is preferably acidic in order for them to thrive for a mature height.
  5. They bloom in spring.
  6. Canadian Hemlock Trees have flowers, though they are not ornamental, they are just small, yellow or light green flowers.
  7. Found in Eastern North America.
  8. Canadian Hemlock Trees are fragrant – crushing the needles releases an aroma. The flowers are produced during the spring.

How to Grow Canadian Hemlock Trees

Canadian Hemlock Trees are slow-growing plants – they will grow only twenty-four inches a year – but they live for a long time. In the wild, they may reach eighty feet in height with a spread of twenty-five or thirty feet, though it varies from tree to tree. The trees are best grown in cool, moist, and well-drained soils. If possible, it is a good idea to protect the trees from the wind.

Canadian Hemlocks can tolerate a bit of shade, though they don’t need it. Their requirements for lighting gives gardeners a lot of flexibility since gardeners will be worried about the light requirements – the Canadian Hemlock can be either a full-sun plant or a shaded plant.

The soil these trees need should preferably be acidic since the trees thrive in that type, but the soil should be moist and offers excellent drainage that is loamy. The problem with these trees is they are shallow rooted, which means they will need to be protected from the wind. So unless you wish to find your tree on the ground after a storm, plant the tree at the right depth. Don’t worry too much – the roots are unlikely to invade piping nearby or raise the sidewalks.

The Canadian Hemlock trees require quite a large amount of water – they can tolerate environments where there is full sun and average or alkaline soils if there is a sufficient supply of water nearby, especially during the summer period. The tree doesn’t tolerate drought or standing wet soil.

Gardeners planting this species of tree should use the “slow watering” technique, this is the best method of watering a hemlock tree, at least once a week. Water the tree by spraying down the trunk and the leaves – this will wash the bugs and the pollution residues before placing the garden hose you’re using at the tree’s base. Let it run freely for up to twenty minutes, though it can run for fifteen, and allow the water to freely distribute the water throughout the roots of the trees.

The Canadian Hemlock grows in cool, humid climates. In Northern regions, the January temperatures on average are ten degrees Fahrenheit with sixty degrees during the summer time.

Give the hemlock trees a well-balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10 once a year. Don’t add to the tree during the transplanting – the fertilizer can burn the root system and lead to the hemlock tree’s death. Just wait a few months until the tree is fully established in the ground before you add the fertilizer to the ground.


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