The Q&A Archives: Tips for Planting Canadian Hemlocks

Question: I want to plant Canadian hemlocks as a hedge on northwest side of my yard. I have several questions: (1), what needs to be done to reduce alkalinity when planting young plants in very alkaline soil? (2) will plants thrive over time in this soil and climate and what measures will ensure that they thrive? (3) when planting, what spacing should I set them? (4) will I need to make sure snow is knocked off the plants in winter? and finally, (5) what is their growth rate? Thank you! Greg Schaefer Marion, IA

Answer: When planting, add a generous amount of peat moss to reduce alkalinity. You may want to get your soil tested, and, if necessary add sulfur to further lower pH. Contact your Cooperative Extension office for soil testing information: 319/377-9839 Theylike rich, moist soils containing an abundance of organic matter. They do equally well in full sun and partial shade, but cannot withstand harsh, drying winds. You would be wise to knock heavy snow off the branches to prevent their breaking. There are many different types of hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) which will grow to different heights. Types sold as hedge plants will mature at 4 or 5 feet tall, while tree varieties will be much larger. You can, of course, prune to keep to the size you want.

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