Canadian Hemlock Care: Tips On Planting A Canadian Hemlock Tree

Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) needles at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in Michigan.
Image by Wirepec

By Teo Spengler

If you are thinking of planting a Canadian hemlock tree in your garden, you’ll need information on the tree’s growing requirements. Read on for Canadian hemlock tree facts, including tips for Canadian hemlock care.

Canadian Hemlock Tree Facts

Canadian hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), also called eastern hemlock, is a member of the pine family and native to North America. You’ll see the trees in the wild growing on woody slopes, rocky ridges, and river valleys from eastern Canada south to Georgia and Alabama.

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They have a slow to medium growth rate of up to 24 inches a year, maturing to 50 to 70 feet tall and 25 feet wide. Don’t worry about their roots. According to Canadian hemlock tree facts, the roots are not likely to invade pipes or raise sidewalks.

If you are hesitant to plant this tree because you know hemlock is poisonous, stop worrying. No part of the Canadian hemlock is poisonous. The poisonous hemlocks you have heard about are perennial plants in the parsley family.

Canadian Hemlocks in the Landscape

Canadian hemlocks in the landscape have flat sprays of lacy evergreen foliage and graceful, pyramid shapes. Their elegance makes them excellent choices for specimen trees. However, the trees are very tolerant of shearing. This means that you can also keep them short or use them for privacy screens.

When you are thinking about planting a Canadian hemlock tree, it’s important to make sure you live in a region where the species can thrive. In general, this species does well in cooler to cold climates, and thrives in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 7.

If you are planting a Canadian hemlock tree, look for a site that offers some shade. The trees prefer partial shade, especially in areas with hot summers, but do require daily direct sun. If your region gets strong winds, pick a planting spot with wind protection.

To offer the best Canadian hemlock care, plant your tree in well-drained loam or sand. The soil should be acidic rather than alkaline.

Care for Canadian Hemlock Trees

If you’ve been careful about your planting location, care for Canadian hemlock trees is not difficult. The most important part of Canadian hemlock care is proper irrigation. When the tree is young, it will require regular watering. As it matures, it still requires frequent irrigation during dry weather. Canadian hemlocks are not very drought tolerant.

Care for Canadian hemlock trees can also require regular pruning if you wish to keep the tree a particular size or shape. It is not necessary for the trees’ health, however.

Although these trees are hardy to zone 3, their roots do better with protection against winter chill. The best care for Canadian hemlock trees includes applying a thick winter mulch.

If you live in Virginia, Maryland or Pennsylvania, or other areas where infestations of woolly adelgid have been severe, remain vigilant. These are tiny, sap-sucking insects that can kill Canadian hemlocks. Treatment includes pesticides containing imidacloprid or dinotefuran.

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