The multicolored deciduous conifer (Larix laricina), sometimes known as the tamarack plant or American larch, is one of the most magnificent trees in the far woods of North America. In colder climates, the tamarack is utilized in ornamental gardening to offer four-season interest to a landscape. The plant becomes a brilliant yellow in the fall, then drops its needles to show appealing peeling bark in the winter, before re-emerging in the spring and summer with blue-green needles. Every year, those magnificent falling needles make a fine mulch that is both attractive and environmentally friendly.
If you’re still wondering “what is a tamarack tree?” and how to grow this interesting plant yourself we’re going to give you a detailed guide.
What Does a Tamarack Tree Look Like
American larch (also known as Larix laricina or tamarack pine) is a deciduous tree that grows up to 25 meters (82 ft) in height. The crown in the form of a pyramid, or a cone, is formed by the hanging branches of this plant. The trunk is brown to gray. Shoots are dark orange, with a touch of a bluish color. The needles, reaching a length of 3 cm (1 inch), are bright green in spring and slightly darker in other seasons.
The needles bloom in mid-spring and begin to fall off in late autumn. Compared with other representatives of this genus, we want to note that this plant is the most photophilous and slowly growing.
Where Do Tamarack Trees Grow
Tamarack may be found from northern Canada through sections of Alaska, as well as up the Northeast coast of the United States and in Eastern Canada. Larix laricina is also found throughout much of Wisconsin and Michigan, as well as sections of Indiana.
How Fast Do Tamarack Trees Grow
The Tamarack tree grows at a medium to rapid rate (2.5 feet per year) in its early years. With time, this slows down. At maturity, healthy trees can grow to be 70 to 75 feet tall and 25 to 30 feet broad. Tamaracks are the fastest-growing boreal conifers during the first 50 years if planted correctly. Your tree should survive for between 200 and 300 years. Once properly planted, tamarack trees are simple to care for.
Tamarack Tree Care
Tamarack trees do not require much maintenance, but they may be finicky and have a few pests to watch out for. You may avoid many of the difficulties that can arise if you think about it before planting your tamarack. When deciding where to plant your tree, keep in mind that this species dislikes competition and will need plenty of room between it and any other trees to grow. Tamaracks are found in moist regions like bogs and swamps in nature. It is better to plant it in an area that receives moisture that mimics these circumstances. This is less necessary than getting plenty of suns, but it will help you save money on supplemental watering.
This tree needs to be in direct sunlight. Because tamarack trees are shade-intolerant, it’s critical to remove any competing trees or plants. Assuring that your tree can grow in direct sunlight will assist in ensuring that it receives appropriate space. It should be at least 15 feet apart from other trees.
Larix laricina thrives in moist, organic soil. It is found in muskeg bogs, which are peat-based. This rich, moist acidic soil is desirable and will help your tree develop correctly. Although the tamarack is more adaptive here in terms of soil demands than it is in terms of light requirements.
How to Water
Tamarack trees require slightly more water, especially during droughts and when they are just establishing themselves. It can’t stand being too dry, so keeping the soil beneath it moist is crucial. Adding two to three inches of excellent organic mulch to the dripline while planting can help retain moisture. You won’t need to add any more mulch after a few seasons because the tree produces its lovely needle mulch.
It’s critical to water your tree once a week for the first three years.
Temperature and Humidity
Unfortunately, the tamarack will not handle the warmer environment if you live south of USDA hardiness zone 5. The tree prefers cool temperatures in the summer and can withstand the bitter cold in the winter. Outside of USDA zones 2-5, it just cannot handle the hot, humid conditions. If you enjoy the beauty of this lovely tree but can’t afford to move far enough north, consider the equally lovely Golden Larch (Pseudolarix amabilis).
Propagation of Larch
Reproduction of larch seems to be possible in two ways – to grow a sprout from seeds, or to propagate planting material with cuttings. The easiest and most effective technique is propagation by cuttings of larch. First, you need to cut the rods, approximately 12 cm (5 inches) long.
You should focus on the raw material. Cuttings should be cut from healthy branches, otherwise, they subsequently take root poorly and will grow very slowly. When rooting larch branches in the ground, to preserve juice and nutrients, make a small cut in the bark, from which roots will subsequently sprout.
After the roots appear on the branches, the planting material should be moved to the soil substrate in the open field. It is important to take into account the requirements for planting – maximum lighting and a drain that saves the tree from moisture stagnation. The advantage of propagation by cuttings of coniferous trees is the possibility of planting cuttings immediately in open soil. Further care of the young plant is reduced to moderate watering. In the same way, young shoots can be grafted to already overgrown shrub larches.
Growing from Seed
When wondering how to grow larch from seeds, it is essential to initially study the whole process of larch propagation by seeds from beginning to end. To plant an evergreen beauty tree in the yard on your own, you should get seeds from its cones. At the end of October, it is the best time to collect the material necessary for work. Only those cones whose scales are tightly pressed against each other pass the selection. Cones are placed in a warm place for their full opening.
Then the container is filled with the prepared composition (you can take peat, sand, and crushed chalk) and moistened. The bottom of the selected vessel is laid out with pebbles or expanded clay – drainage is created. Holes are made in the soil with a depth of not more than 1.5 cm and a seed is placed. After planting the seeds in the soil mixture, all this is covered with a layer of peat and sawdust.
Then, for effective growth, the seeds need to create a greenhouse effect – place the container with tamarack seedlings in a warm place and cover it with a film. The whole process of seed germination should be to spray the soil with water and destroy disease-causing microbes. At the first germinated seedlings, it is necessary to provide the maximum amount of light to the sprouts.
Does Tamarack Tree Lose Their Needles
Every year, tamarack trees, as well as dawn redwood and bald cypress trees, lose all of their needles. This serves to shield them from harsh winter temperatures and, like in other conifers, allows them to thrive in a variety of soil and climate situations.
What to Plant near the Tree
American larch will look picturesque with rhododendron, lilac, and similar trees. Larch trees also look attractive against the background with plants that turn red or brown in autumn.
The wide area of use of tamarack trees in landscape design is due to a large assortment of larch varieties: from giant plantations to miniature shrubs. The plant is not only planted in group and single plantings in the park areas of large cities but also is used to enclose the garden in country houses with a human shield. The majestic green larch perfectly coexists with other plants. In the city, a coniferous beauty can be planted with juniper, linden, barberry, and maple. In a summer cottage, trees with soft needles can become excellent neighbors even with grapes.
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