Loved for its resilience, its rapid growth, and its gorgeous good looks, the weeping larch is a perennial favorite with gardeners. Although this native of Central and Southern Europe does best in areas blessed with cool summers and cold winters, it’s easy-going enough to cope well in almost all climatic zones (although it’s worth mentioning that it really doesn’t like too much humidity). Providing the conditions are right, it can live for up to six hundred years and grow to heights of over 40 meters. If all that wasn’t enough, it’s even believed to carry healing powers thanks to its ability to absorb dangerous gases and toxins and purify the atmosphere. If you want to benefit from all those great qualities, here’s what you need to know about how to take care of a weeping larch.
Pick a Sunny Spot
As Hunker writes, the weeping larch doesn’t like humid conditions or heavily polluted urban environments. It thrives best in climates with cool summers and cold winters. Ultimately, you can’t help your climate, nor do much about the pollution. But what you can do something about is how much shade and light your tree gets. If you want to grow a strong, healthy weeping larch, you’re going to need to pick the right spot in your garden to plant it in. Although a weeping larch will tolerate a bit of light shade, it won’t grow at all in full shade. Try to plant it in an area of your yard that receives as much sunlight as possible.
Remember to Mulch
Weeping larches love a bit of mulch. After you’ve planted your tree, do as ehow.co.uk recommends and mulch the soil at the base of the tree and in a 2- to 4-foot ring around its trunk. Shredded pine bark, wood chips, well-rotted manure, seasoned compost, and pine needles all make great mulch options for weeping larches. Aim to mulch about 4 to 6 inches thick. This will ensure the soil retains just the right amount of moisture the tree needs to thrive. It’ll also do a great job of keeping pesky weeds at bay.
Keep an Eye on Moisture Levels
Weeping larches are thirsty trees that need at least 2 inches of rainfall (or the equivalent) per week. They don’t like drought even slightly, and will quickly start to lose their luster without adequate hydration. Keep a close eye on the moisture levels of the surrounding soil. If the weather is dry for longer than a few days, water at least once a week. If possible, place a slow-running hose directly in the root zone and allow it to run for a couple of hours once or twice a week.
Fertilize Every 2 to 4 Years
Although weeping larches are mercifully low maintenance, a bit of TLC every now and again won’t go amiss. Like most coniferous trees, weeping larches don’t need yearly fertilizer. They do, however, benefit from the occasional application. As a general rule, you should expect to fertilize every 2 to 4 years. To work out just how often your tree requires the treatment, keep an eye on how its needle color and growth rate change over the growing seasons. If the needles begin to appear pale and unhealthy or if the rate of growth tails off, take it as a call to action. As a word of warning, only apply fertilizer from early spring through to midsummer. Fertilizing any later than this could cause new growth to be damaged during the cold winter months. Expect to use 2 to 4 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. Before applying the nitrogen, soak the soil well with water. Use a trowel to dig a circle of holes measuring 8 to 12 inches deep and 2 inches wide around the base of the tree. Keep the holes around 1.5 to 3 feet away from the trunk. The fertilizer can then be added to the holes.
Prune in Spring
As hawkslandscape.com notes, weeping larches need little pruning in general. However, removing or crossing poorly formed branches can help promote new growth and maintain a healthy, attractive shape. To make the most of the tree’s weeping structure, the main branch should be staked. Any branches that are growing straight up or down should be pruned to up or outward-facing buds. Preferably, pruning should be done between growing seasons in the spring. If the tree is already an attractive shape, don’t feel obliged to prune it regardless: unnecessary pruning can easily damage the aesthetic of a weeping larch. However, take care to inspect for signs of decay or disease. Any affected branches will need to be removed regardless of whether you like the shape of the tree or not.
Watch Out for Common Problems
Weeping larches may be relatively low maintenance and trouble free, but you’ll still need to keep an eye out for some of the common problems they’re known to experience from time to time. Black or brown spots on the needles and stems of the tree can be a warning sign of needle case fungi, as can streaks or lesions. Needle case fungi typically occurs in moist, humid conditions. To prevent the problem in the first instance, take care to remove any weeds that develop around the root of the tree. It also helps not to overcrowd the soil with too many plants.
Another common problem that can afflict weeping larches is feeding damage caused by pests like aphids, spider mites, and sawflies. To stop the pests in their tracks, apply a solution of 2.5 ounces of insecticidal soap per gallon of water to the tree using a pressurized sprayer. Remember to wear protective eye gear and long-sleeved clothing when you apply the mixture.
If your weeping larch is failing to thrive but you’re unable to detect any sign of insect damage or fungi, it could be a sign that it’s not receiving enough light. If there are any neighboring plantings that are blocking the larch’s access to sunlight, you might need to consider relocating either them or it to another part of the garden. As a final point, remember that while weeping larches need plenty of water, too much hydration can be just as bad as too little. If the ground feels waterlogged, cutting back on your watering schedule should put the matter right.