Spring Flush (Conifer Style)

By Web Editor
Picea abies 'Pusch', looking like a rosebush in bloom! Photo by Janice LeCocq
Picea abies 'Pusch', looking like a rosebush in bloom! Photo by Janice LeCocq

Spring is here, and it's not just about flowers. Conifers have both showy new growth and gorgeous cones. Some will rival even the most flamboyant flowers. Take the Pusch Norway Spruce above, for example. And those 'roses', which are actually seed cones, don't need to be deadheaded and persist for weeks.

Pollen cones on Pinus parviflora 'Cleary'
Pollen cones on Pinus parviflora 'Cleary'

Male (pollen) cones can be showy, also, as the Cleary Japanese white pine above illustrates. Pinus parviflora is a much-prized species, due to its soft needles, often borne in two-toned clusters and in some cases with yellow, white or pink new growth.

Known familiarly as 'Goldylocks', this Japanese white pine sports lemon-yellow foliage in spring.
Known familiarly as 'Goldylocks', this Japanese white pine sports lemon-yellow foliage in spring.

Pinus parviflora 'Tenysu kazu', also known as Goldylocks, is one of the showiest conifers in spring. It's pretty nice the rest of the year, too, with its slightly twisted needles that have silvery undertones. This one appears to be harder to grow than many other white pines, but the beauty may be worth the potential heartache!

Close up of Pinus parviflora Goldylocks new spring foliage
Close up of Pinus parviflora Goldylocks new spring foliage

Lots of conifers have dramatic new foliage in spring. Picea pungens 'Jan Byczkowski' is one of many Colorado spruces with white or yellow new growth. This darkens to the mature blue or blue-green in summer. 'Maigold' and 'Nimitz' have similar coloring, as does P. pungens 'Gebelle's Golden Spring'

Picea pungens (Colorado spruce) 'Maigold'
Picea pungens (Colorado spruce) 'Maigold'
Picea pungens 'Gebelle's Golden Spring'. Photo by Janice LeCocq
Picea pungens 'Gebelle's Golden Spring'. Photo by Janice LeCocq
Several Picea pungens also have ruby-colored cones.
Several Picea pungens also have ruby-colored cones.

Picea pungens 'Ruby Teardrops' is probably the best-known spruce for jewel-like new cones. Pictured above is Picea pungens 'Koster Pendula', not a legitimate name but found fairly often in the trade so styled.

Taxus baccata 'Bright Gold' puts on a show in spring.
Taxus baccata 'Bright Gold' puts on a show in spring.

Taxus baccata 'Dwarf Bright Gold' has new foliage the same color as Forsythia flowers, but the Taxus, commonly called English yew, rarely needs pruning. Even better, after the spring flush has subsided, it contributes color, structure and depth to the garden.

What's happening in your conifer garden? Colorful new growth? Interesting cones? We want to see your photos!

Comments

Web Editor

Submit your photos on the database record for the plant. We'll add them to this article!

Paula Rothkopf

I bought Pinus parviflora 'Tenysu kazu' because it is known for its pink male cones. It was covered with male cones in 2018, when I purchased the plant. Since then, hardly any cones, maybe 3 this year. Why?

David Olszyk

conifers usually produce copious cones (male and female) when excessively stressed and feel that they should reproduce before their demise. It's possible that your plant is simply too happy where it is.

Paula Rothkopf

Whoops, my last note had the wrong plant name. I meant to type Pinus pumila ‘Blue Dwarf’

This plant is known for the reddish pink cones.

https://www.coniferkingdom.com/pinus-pumila-dwarf-blue/

Why has the plant not produced the cones? Could it be too much sun? I have it in full sun.

Thanks,
Paula