Propagation: Western Conifers In The Midwest

Discussion in 'Gymnosperms (incl. Conifers)' started by fredmcain, Jul 17, 2017.

  1. fredmcain

    fredmcain Member

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    Group,

    I was wondering if anyone has had success or even attempted to plant western conifers in the upper Midwest. Some trees that I'm really interested in are Red Fir (Abies Magnifca), Noble fir, grand fir and sugar pine. Has anyone ever attempted this? These trees are not available in most of the nursery catalogs that we receive but perhaps a western nursery might ship them to us.

    I have tried planting giant Sequoia but those only lived for a few years. Now I was wondering about some other stately western tree species. I am in northeastern Indiana right near the very bottom of zone 5.

    Regards,
    Fred M. Cain,
    Topeka, IN
     
  2. JT1

    JT1 Rising Contributor

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    We grew Abies procera and Abies concolor for several years. Then last year we had the hottest Summer on record and lost them both. One concolor survived that gets more shade and its roots were shaded and stayed cooler. In the extreme heat and humidity with severe drought we loss the battle with the fine line of not enough water and too much water. We grow Abies koreana without any problems. After last summer my wife said no more firs!

    I have noticed over the years it is best to buy any fir container grown. I have seen "zombie" balled and burlaped firs last a year before completely showing signs that they are dead. Some have even put on growth. Every B&B fir I see I always wonder if it is just an overpriced Christmas tree (meaning it looks great now but it is actually dead!). They seem to not cope with the massive root loss that occurs during digging and then they don't have the energy to put on the root growth needed to support life. Maybe things are different in other areas using B&B, but here it seems the summer heat finishes them off if the trip from the West coast doesn't kill them. Buy a container grown and get the whole tree, roots and all!

    Here is information from the conifer society
    Abies Conifer Record

    Gee Farms has many firs to choose from in their 2017 catalog:
    Gee Farms Nursery and Garden Center | We sell beauty by the yard - Gee Farms
    (may make a good day trip, they may also know what firs grow best in your area too from customer feedback)
     
  3. fredmcain

    fredmcain Member

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    JT,

    Thanks for your response but where are you located? I have had EXCELLENT success with Abies Concolor. In fact, here in northern Indiana they seem to do so well that I'm surprised that not more people plant them. They are beautiful trees! In fact, I like them better than Picea Pungens but there's no accounting for taste. :).

    In 2012 we had an extremely dry, hot summer with hot, searing wind. I lost about a half dozen Norway Spruces but the white firs all made it!

    But ! I'd like to branch out and get some more different kinds of firs. Thanks a lot for the links you sent me. That will help immensely!

    Your remarks on shipments are spot on. I have always bought "bare root" stock. I always buy more than I need since you only have about a 50-50 chance that they'll live. One recurrent pattern that I've noticed, if they arrive with new growth already sprouted, forget it! They're toast!

    Regards,
    Fred M. Cain,
    Topeka, IN
     
  4. JT1

    JT1 Rising Contributor

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    I am in Euclid OH zone 5 or 6 depending on the source. Glad you found the information helpful!
     
  5. fredmcain

    fredmcain Member

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    J.T.,

    I was looking over the online catalog for Gee Farms Nursery. All I can say is Gee ! There are a heck of a lot of strains of Abies Concolor! Since they were simply sold to me as "concolor fir" by several different mail order catalogs, I have no idea which strain I have.

    I do remember studying years ago that in the natural environment there was a major variety native to the Rocky Mountains area (including New Mexico, Arizona and northern Sonora, Mexico) and a different much larger version native to the Pacific coast. I can well believe that the Pacific Coast variety would not do well in our area.

    Here's another mystery: Pinus Lambertina, "Sugar pine". According to this web site: How to Grow Sugar Pine , it should grow in zone 5. This website : Pinus lambertiana | Sevenoaks Native Nursery also states zone 5 - so we should be good, right?

    But the confer society site Pinus lambertiana (sugar pine) description - The Gymnosperm Database states that it's only hardy to zone 7. Why the discrepancy? Are the nurseries trying to sell things that might not make it in our area?

    Regards,
    Fred M. Cain,
    Topeka, IN
     
  6. JT1

    JT1 Rising Contributor

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  7. JT1

    JT1 Rising Contributor

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    That is where I get myself into trouble...So many varieties and so little room left in the yard! To be fair the one I lost was Abies concolor 'Winter' gold'. It just glowed in the winter. Then one summer it went from yellow to brown instead of the usual chartreuse.
    We have good luck growing:
    Chamaecyparis obtusa (lots of varieties)
    Chamaecyparis lawsoniana
    Chamaecyparis nootkatensis 'Green Arrow'
    Picea abies
    Picea glauca
    Picea mariana
    Picea omorika
    Picea orientalis
    Picea pungens

    Pinus aristata (needs tied up in Winter)
    Pinus densiflora
    Pinus mugo (lots of varieties, but Aurea gets most attention)
    Pinus parviflora (lots of varieties)
    Pinus strobus
    Pinus sylvestris

    I have never had experience with Pinus lambertina. Sometimes bad information exist out there especially from online growers. I would tend to trust the Conifer society. Otherwise you need to do research to see what people are doing when pushing the zone hardiness. For example, maybe it's growing in a protected area or they are wrapping them in burlap late Dec-Mar or they loose them every 5-15 years depending on how often the severe weather hits.
     
  8. fredmcain

    fredmcain Member

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    J.T.,

    I heard back from Chris at the Conifer Society. He told me that the rock bottom hardiness zone for Lambertiana could be zone 7 or 5 depending on the see source. A specimen from the Cascades in Oregon would tend to be far more cold hardy than a source from Southern California.

    On your Abies Concolor that died, what part of Ohio are you in? Southern Ohio might be quite a bit hotter in the summer than northern Indiana where we are. I am only about 12 miles from the Michigan state line. The proximity of Lake Michigan might help keep it a bit cooler here in summer as well.

    One thought on Pinus Sylvestris: I had a bunch of these in my wind break and they are all dying after about 23 years. Three are already dead and the others are on their way. I suspect a red pine beetle but I don' t know for sure. I am trying to replace them with Abies Concolor. I don't think I would plant Sylvestris again. They looked beautiful for a few years but now, well, what a bummer !

    Regards,
    Fred M. Cain
     
  9. JT1

    JT1 Rising Contributor

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    I am in NE OH .3 miles from lake Erie and east of Cleveland. We get 90's but rarely hit 100F although with the humidity included we get heat index near or above 100F. Winter is usually below freezing with Jan-Feb with days in single digits with wind chill well below freezing. I think it was 4 years ago that we had 60+ hours below -15F and I believe it was over half the month in the single digits.

    Glad you reached out to the Conifer society, most have a great real world understanding of the various conifers and a network of long time collectors scattered in all parts of the country that know the important details of what grows where and how to do it successfully.
     
  10. fredmcain

    fredmcain Member

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    J.T.,

    Well, if you're only three miles from lake Erie, or did you mean 3-tenths of a mile?, then I'm really surprised that the heat killed your Abies Concolor. I can't help but wonder if something else is going on here that may have, combined with the heat, produced a double-whammy effect. I have read in a number of sources that most conifers do not like heavy, wet, clay soils. We have really light sandy or even gravely soil and our pine trees seem to like that. It's hard to keep our garden growing well in a hot, dry summer, but the conifers seem to do well once they're established. One nasty pest we have in the Midwest is the red spider mite. They usually attack spruces but in a pinch they can go after any evergreen. They are immune to Sevin, or so it seems, but malathion will kill them. When we first built our house in 1990, I planted six specimens of picea pungens and almost lost them before I finally figured out what was wrong with them. In fact one of them did die.

    One thing about abies concolor I discovered is that they develop a deep tap root early. One year I had some tiny seedlings that I got from the Arbor Day Foundation and had no time for them so I just stuck them in a short row in the garden with the intention to transplant them the next year. Well, the "next year" came and went and I never got around to it 'til the following year. Whew ! I almost didn't get them out! I dug down as far as I could but still ended up cutting the tap root off. Most of the transplants ended up surviving anyways. That helped lead me to believe that white fir is rather resilient.

    Regards,
    Fred M. Cain
     
  11. fredmcain

    fredmcain Member

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    J.T.,

    For what it's worth, I just sent them a donation.

    This sounds interesting to me.

    Regards,
    Fred M. Cain
     
  12. JT1

    JT1 Rising Contributor

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    That's great! I am sure they appreciate your donation. I just happened to come across a resource that I thought you might find useful.
    https://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/Volume_1/vol1_Table_of_contents.htm

    If you click on Abies concolor you will find some really great in-depth information. Might be a good resource for researching new conifer varieties for your property.

    I hope to find time to respond to your posts above tomorrow. You bring up many of the reasons we lost out concolor. Hope you find the information in the link useful.
     
  13. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Yes - nurseries are trying to sell things that might not make it in your area. Nothing new there! Zone 7 is correct.

    But additionally, it - and other west coast conifers - is not well adapted to the combination of summer heat and humidity you get, which results in much hotter night temperatures than it gets in the wild. Those conditions stress it, and also leave it much more liable to fungal diseases.

    One option you can try is to graft scions onto rootstocks of species that are adapted to your conditions - so if you want to try e.g. Red Fir, graft it onto e.g. Abies holophylla rootstock.
     
  14. fredmcain

    fredmcain Member

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  15. fredmcain

    fredmcain Member

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    Michael,

    I believe you are correct about the fungal problem. I have tried spraying with a systemic fungicide. That helps. Some fungi go after the roots, though. Not sure what can be done about that.

    I tried looking up Pinus Lambertiana on the website that "J.T." suggested. Pinus lambertiana Dougl It mentioned in there that this pine has been found up to 10,000 foot elevations in the "Transverse Range" (wherever that is). That would not only suggest zone 5 but possibly even zone 4! So, it could very well be that our warm, damp, humid summers might be the explanation here.

    Not sure about the grafting idea. That sounds like it would be a bit above my skill level. It's a good idea nonetheless for anyone who's good at grafting.

    Regards,
    Fred M. Cain,
    Topeka, IN
     
  16. JT1

    JT1 Rising Contributor

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    Great! Glad you like it. Here is a link to hardwood trees in case you are interested:
    https://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/volume_2/vol2_Table_of_contents.htm

    With both links I found the list of trees (including conifers) and shade tolerance helpful too:
    https://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/volume_2/summary_of/tree_characteristics.htm
    The glossary:
    Glossary
    (and)
    Checklist of Organisms Causing Tree Diseases
    https://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/...cklist_of/organisms_causing_tree_diseases.htm
    Checklist of insects and mites
    https://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/Volume_1/checklist_of/insects_and_mites.htm
     
  17. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    It's the combined name for the Santa Ynez, San Gabriel, and San Bernadino ranges - way down south in southern California just above Los Angeles, so not far from the Pacific either. They don't get any severe cold in the winter there.

    I'd think the coldest part of the species' range is around Lake Tahoe, or else around its northeast limits in Oregon; with careful selection around there, it might be possible to find zone 6 hardy sources, but you'll still have the problem of their being adapted to low summer humidity.
     
  18. fredmcain

    fredmcain Member

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    Ah well, yeah, duh! I should've thought of that. I will probably end up doing the same thing that I did with giant sequoia. Plant a couple as an "experiment". My experiment with Sequoiadendron was entirely successful in as much as I "proved" they will not live in my area or at least not long term. But now I have found out that there is a more cold hardy strain of Sequoiadenron called "Hazel Smith" that might. So, I might try again.

    On the pinus lambertiana, if I plant a couple and they don't make it, it's no big loss. Pinus Sylvestris on the other hand IS rated for my zone. I had around ten of 'em in a wind break and they are all dying so you just never know.

    Some people (See above) have had trouble propagating abies concolor in my area but I have had really good luck. I have a few of them now approaching 30 feet and have a real nice crop of cones this year !

    Regards,
    Fred M. Cain
     
  19. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I'd be suspecting pine wilt nematode Bursaphelenchus xylophilus - Scots Pine (like virtually all European and Asian pines) is very susceptible to this disease. It is a native American nematode, so the native American pines have a lot of resistance to it, but European and Asian pines have never evolved resistance.
     
  20. fredmcain

    fredmcain Member

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    Michael,

    Concerning my Sylvestris, definitely some kind of an insect. Could even be more than one. First they begin declining then finally the whole tree turns yellow and dies. Almost suggests that the cambium layer has been girdled by something. If only I had seen this coming, I would've begun treating them with something. But by the time I really noticed it, it was too late. I have had some luck with this Bayer fertilizer and systemic insecticide here: Amazon.com : Bayer Advanced 701720 12 Months Tree and Shrub Protect and Feed Granules, 10-Pound (Not Sold in NY) : Pet Care Products : Patio, Lawn & Garden.

    Trouble is, it is just a bit salty. But it seems to have helped my ponderosa pines ward off shoot borers.

    Regards,
    Fred M. Cain
     
  21. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    The symptoms sound exactly like pine wilt nematode - it blocks the water transport in the cambium layer, so the effect is exactly the same as you describe.

    The nematode is spread by longhorn beetles, which then breed in the dying pine, which will further give the impression 'it was insects wot did it'.
     
  22. fredmcain

    fredmcain Member

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    Michael,

    Does the pine wilt nematode attack all red pines? It seems to me like all the red pines around here get these symptoms. Scots pine, if I'm not mistaken, is still considered a "red pine" isn't it? I had a neighbor with a wind break/privacy screen of American (eastern) red pine. Same symptoms and they all died. Further north they don't seem to have this issue.

    Regards,
    Fred M. Cain
     
  23. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    If I recall rightly, Pinus resinosa has some resistance to it; not as good as the likes of P. echinata, but better than P. sylvestris, P. nigra, P. thunbergii, etc.
     
  24. sgbotsford

    sgbotsford Active Member

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    Why do you need to tie up P. aristata? I have them growing near Edmonton, Alberta.


     

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