Conifer trees grow across most of the Northern Hemisphere, in Europe, North America and Asia. The conifer produces its seeds within a cone and needles instead of leaves. Most conifers grow in large areas known as coniferous forests. Common conifers are pine trees, hemlocks, firs, spruces and cedars. The majority of conifers are evergreen.
Conifer Forest Environment
Most conifers that live in a coniferous forest setting survive cold, dry winters with extremely cold temperatures. In the summer. conditions can be wet, hot and humid. The average rainfall in a coniferous forest is 14 to 29 inches. The average summertime temperatures are usually around 57 degrees Fahrenheit. Conifer forests are often logged using clear-cut methods to harvest valuable wood. Clear-cutting is the removal of all trees no mattter the size or type. The trees are replanted once logging is complete. Unfortunately, clear-cutting leads to tree plantings of a single species of conifer, causing a loss of biodiversity.
The oldest living trees in the world belong to the conifer family. In California, the bristlecone pine trees are believed to be 5,000 years old, and numerous old-growth redwoods average 2,000 years old, according to the National Parks Service.
Conifers are very popular in home landscaping for their lovely evergreen appearance and versatility. They are commonly grown as ground cover, shrubs, foundation plantings, specimen tree plantings and even as large hedges. Most evergreens planted in the home garden require full sun to thrive. Most conifers require a great deal of water when first planted to establish themselves. Conifers are widely used for Christmas trees.
Evergreen conifers retain most of their needles year round, giving the trees and shrubs a constant green appearance. Most conifers shed their needles every two or three years slowly, and new needles grow quickly. A few species of conifers have a needle lifespan of up to 17 years, according to Colorado State University.
Conifer Planting And Care
Conifers prefer to be planted in the early spring to late fall. They can thrive in a wide range of soil conditions but do not like waterlogged roots for an extended time. Fertilize conifers twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall. Use a basic fertilizer such as a 10-10-10. Follow the directions on the label and water thoroughly.
A few species of conifers require a forest fire to release their seeds. The lodgepole pine produces cones filled with seeds that never ripen. For the cones to open and the seeds to spread, the tree must be exposed to the extremely high temperatures of a forest fire.