Mistakes to Avoid when Growing a Hemlock Tree

hemlock tree

The hemlock tree comes from Canada, and is a traditional evergreen tree. These plants can grow up to 80 feet high, and amateur gardeners can make a few mistakes in growing these trees which affect the health and growth of the hemlock tree.

Planting the Hemlock Tree

One of the most common mistakes is to not understand the nature of the Hemlock tree’s fibrous roots. These roots are easily damaged during planting, and they also require a great deal of room—so when planting, it is vital that the hole be dug at least five or six times the size of the root ball. In addition, amateur gardeners often remove soil from around the roots, believing that this is helping the growth of the garden. Unfortunately, this can damage the roots. The tree should not be planted any deeper than it was in the pot it arrives in. Hemlocks and other evergreen trees dislike being planted too deeply.

Planting the tree during the summer months is another frequent mistake. The best time to plant the hemlock tree is at the beginning of spring; it should not be planted in the winter, or after the end of October. The young hemlock tree is vulnerable and weak during its early growth, so excessive heat or cold will damage or kill the tree.

When planting more than one hemlock tree, inadequate spacing is another mistake to avoid. Hemlocks need enough roots to support a very tall tree. Without enough room for the roots to spread the hemlock won't reach ideal heights, and may be vulnerable to the spread of pests and fungi that will damage the tree. Crowding also spoils the impressive spectacle of the hemlock tree, ruining the effect for the gardener. When planting a hemlock tree, don’t underestimate the amount of room that it needs to survive. Along those lines, also be aware of planting it too close to houses or fences.

Growing the Hemlock Tree

row of freshly planted trees

The hemlock, being an evergreen, likes a lot of water. In fact, the hemlock tree loses water during winter, and failing to water the tree properly during the late fall can result in dehydration and death. During the late autumn, the hemlock tree begins to conserve water, so careful watering and mulching during this time can help the tree to survive the winter.

The hemlock is also vulnerable to a number of bugs. In fact, the tree seems to attract more kinds of bugs than other garden trees; amateur gardeners can sometimes ignore the early signs of an infestation, allowing the bugs to grow and ultimately destroy the hemlock. As with other evergreens, spider mites are a serious problem, and should be syringed with water or sulphur dust as soon as they are spotted.

The hemlock also does not like pruning. Excessive pruning may send it into shock; they also should not be pruned during hot weather, as this can cause them damage. Pruning is best performed in the very early spring, when summer is still a few weeks away. This will give the tree time to recover.