Tsuga canadensis / Canadian Hemlock
I couldn’t resist this stately conifer of the East — at $15 each — and have five in my garden. One of a very small group of conifers that tolerate shade, it’s also threatened by a virulent Asian insect that I’m happy to report can be dealt with successfully by the watchful gardener.
Here’s an article I wrote about the destruction of hemlocks in the wild caused by the wooly adelgid insect (next photo). It includes two remedies for protecting hemlocks, both do-able by the home gardener.
Native from Georgia to New Brunswick and west to Wisconsin.
- In the wild they grow to 40-70 feet tall. In urban situations they often stop growing at 25 feet tall by 10 feet wide.
- Abundant dwarf forms are available, the most popular of which is the weeping variety ‘Pendula’ (bottom photo).
- Tolerates full sun to full shade, though it does best in partial sun/shade.
- Hardy to Zone 3.
- Sources say that deer eat hemlocks, but mine haven’t suffered even a nibble in my deer-infested backyard.
- Average drought tolerance after first year or so on site.
- Avoid roadsides (salt spray) and exposed sites (unbroken wind).
- Stake new hemlocks for 2-3 years.
- Can be sheared to form a hedge, according to all the sources, but that would sure spoil its gorgeous shape and form.
- Sources warn to be careful if transplanting in the fall and recommend watering well and mulching, but you’d do that anyway, right?
Tsuga chinensis/Chinese Hemlocks
Now you may be inclined against this plant, since the hemlock-killing wooly adelgid came to the U.S. on board one of them (in fact, to a large conifer collection in Virginia). But if growing native hemlocks isn’t an option where you live (too infested with adelgids or too hot), consider growing the adelgid-resistant Chinese hemlock. It’s more expensive but does very well in hot, humid climates. Hardy only to Zone 6.