In this post we’re going to take a look at 10 of the best garden conifers that you can plant and grow at home.
These conifers are easy to grow, hardy and can help provide your garden with shade, privacy and security.
10 Best Garden Conifers
Because conifers come in all shapes, sizes and a wide range of colours, require little or no maintenance and keep their colour and form throughout the year, they are ideal for time-pressed gardeners. Here’s a list to get you started.
Cedar. These tend to become large trees in later life so bear in mind that they could be anything up to fifty feet. They have needle like leaves arranged in spirals and their upright cones can take up to three years to ripen on the branches.
Japanese Cedar: a lovely family of false cedars with soft feathery foliage, they tend to make roughly conical plants in maturity and their green spring growth turns purple or bronzed in autumn. They are not hardy in very cold climates and may need a little protection by means of hedging or trellising from really cold winds.
These are generally slow-growing trees, making large silvery grey plants of either conical or pyramid shape. There are a few new yellow foliage varieties such as Sulphurea which are well worth looking out for.
The Juniper family is the most adaptable and attractive group, in my opinion, for garden use (and they make gin from Juniper berries, which is always good to know!) The tend to have colorful winter foliage and some varieties are noted for bright winter berries – Kaizuka is a star, producing beautiful blue-grey fruits when mature.
The Larch to you and me. It’s a rarity in that it’s a deciduous conifer; it has bright green leaves in summer that it drops after they turn gold in autumn. Nice for big gardens.
Spruce family. The Spruces are great plants, especially the dwarf versions – they may not like very dry or very chalky soils but otherwise do well. Your Christmas tree is probably going to be a spruce, which tells you what the family as a whole is like.
The lovely pines tend not to get grown as much as they should be. They have needles and cones, and new varieties offer a range of winter colours. Birds love them too.
Yew. Don’t grow this if you have horses or small children. The berries are beautiful but poisonous. Otherwise, plant one! This is the most attractive ornamental conifer, and the berries resemble dark pink/red beads.
1. Thuja occidentalis (Eastern Arborvitae)
The Eastern Arborvitae is a versatile conifer that thrives in various growing conditions. It features dense, scale-like foliage that ranges in color from green to yellow or even variegated. This conifer is often used as a hedge or screen due to its fast growth and compact form.
2. Juniperus scopulorum (Rocky Mountain Juniper)
The Rocky Mountain Juniper is a beautiful conifer with a rugged and natural appearance. It has gray-green foliage that becomes bronze in winter, providing year-round interest. This conifer is well-suited for rock gardens, slopes, or as a specimen tree.
3. Pinus mugo (Mugo Pine)
The Mugo Pine is a small, compact conifer that adds a touch of charm to any garden. It features dense, dark green needles and often produces attractive cones. This conifer is ideal for small gardens, containers, or as a low-maintenance ground cover.
4. Picea glauca (White Spruce)
The White Spruce is a popular conifer known for its classic Christmas tree shape. It has short, blue-green needles that give off a pleasant fragrance. This conifer is suitable for larger gardens and provides a beautiful backdrop for other plants.
5. Cedrus atlantica (Atlas Cedar)
The Atlas Cedar is an elegant and majestic conifer that makes a stunning focal point in any garden. It has silvery-blue foliage and a pyramidal shape. This conifer requires ample space to accommodate its size and can be a remarkable addition to larger landscapes.
6. Chamaecyparis obtusa (Hinoki Cypress)
The Hinoki Cypress is a graceful conifer with delicate, fern-like foliage that ranges in color from deep green to golden. It has a compact, pyramidal form and provides a sense of tranquility and Zen to garden settings. This conifer is well-suited for Japanese-style gardens or as a specimen tree.
7. Taxus baccata (English Yew)
The English Yew is a classic conifer that exudes timeless beauty and elegance. It features dark green, needle-like foliage and produces red berries in fall. This conifer can be shaped into formal hedges or topiaries, or left to grow naturally as a focal point.
8. Cryptomeria japonica (Japanese Cedar)
The Japanese Cedar is a striking conifer with feathery, green foliage that turns bronze or coppery in winter. It has a tall, upright form and provides a sense of verticality and structure to garden landscapes. This conifer is suitable for larger gardens or as a windbreak.
9. Abies koreana (Korean Fir)
The Korean Fir is a compact and attractive conifer that captivates with its bluish-green needles and purple cones. It has a rounded form and is well-suited for smaller gardens or as a specimen tree. This conifer adds a touch of elegance to any landscape.
Silver Fir, they tend to have nice tall cones that stand out from the silvery grey foliage and are generally hardy although some dislike chalky soils.
10. Tsuga canadensis (Eastern Hemlock)
The Eastern Hemlock is a graceful and shade-tolerant conifer that thrives in woodland settings. It has soft, dark green needles and a pyramidal form. This conifer is ideal for creating a natural, woodland-inspired garden or as a privacy screen.
These 10 garden conifers offer a range of sizes, colors, and forms to suit various garden styles and preferences. Before planting conifers in your garden, consider factors such as soil type, sunlight exposure, and available space to ensure the best conditions for their growth. With proper care and maintenance, these conifers will enhance the beauty and allure of your garden throughout the year.
The Bottom Line
As Matthew Pottage points out in this article “Regardless of the setting, and whether the need is privacy or just something to enjoy in winter that actually appears to be alive, evergreens, including conifers, have their purpose in any garden.”
Whether you’re looking for conifers for privacy or the conifers for shade, our collection above represents what we believe to be the best garden conifers that you can plant for yourself at home.
Hi, I’m Miles, the lead team member behind Gardeem.com. Besides being a passionate grower and writer, I’m a husband, father and grandfather to three! I started Gardeem in 2017 to provide simple and reliable gardening advice to everyone, regardless of their ability levels.