Planting Evergreens in Northern California’s Winter

Planting Evergreens in Northern California’s Winter

The diverse climate along the Sierra Nevada foothills and across Northern California make it an excellent region for growing evergreen trees, including conifers, particularly in December when the cooler weather can provide ideal conditions for their establishment. Cooler winter temperatures slow growing and allow the plants to focus on root development before Spring.  Let’s review some of our favorite evergreen trees and some tips for successful growing.

Our Favorite Evergreens for Local Growers

  • Black Dragon Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica). A striking evergreen tree known for its unique appearance. It features dense, dark green foliage with a dramatic, weeping growth habit, resembling cascading drapery. This tree thrives in Northern California's climate, thanks to its adaptability to various soil types and its resistance to drought, making it an excellent choice for local landscapes.
  • Dwarf Alberta Spruce (Picea glauca). A charming, compact evergreen tree. It boasts a conical shape, vibrant green needles, and a naturally neat appearance. This spruce variety thrives in Northern California's climate due to its cold hardiness..
  • Baby Blue Sawara Cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera). An eye-catching appearance with its soft, silvery-blue foliage. In Northern California, this tree thrives due to its tolerance for both heat and cold, making it adaptable to the region's diverse climate. Its unique color and hardiness make it a standout choice.
  • Wichita Blue Juniper (Juniperus scopulorum). Brilliant silver-blue foliage. This evergreen thrives in the foothills thanks to its excellent drought tolerance and adaptability to various soil types. Its striking color and hardy nature make it a superb choice for adding beauty and resilience to local landscapes.

Why December Is Ideal for Planting Evergreens:

Planting evergreens, including conifers, in December offers several advantages specific to the Northern California climate:

  1. Cooler Temperatures: Evergreens prefer cooler weather when establishing their root systems. December's lower temperatures allow newly planted evergreens to focus on root growth without the stress of summer heat.
  1. Ample Moisture: Northern California experiences winter rains, which provide essential moisture for young evergreens. Planting in December ensures that your trees have access to moisture when they need it most.
  1. Early Establishment: Planting in December gives evergreens a head start. By the time spring arrives, they will have had several months to establish their roots, making them more resilient and better prepared for the growing season.

Preparing the Soil:

Proper soil preparation is crucial for the success of your December evergreen planting project. Here's what you need to consider:

  1. Soil Type: Evergreens, including conifers, typically thrive in well-drained soils. Loamy soil, a balanced mixture of sand, silt, and clay, is often ideal. Ensure good drainage while retaining moisture.
  1. Soil pH: Most evergreens prefer slightly acidic to neutral soils with a pH range of 5.5 to 7.0. Adjust soil pH as needed using amendments. Conduct a soil test to understand your soil's specific characteristics and nutrient levels. This will guide your soil preparation efforts.
  1. Amendments: Depending on your soil's composition, amend it with organic matter like compost to improve fertility and structure.

Acclimatizing Your Evergreens:

To help your evergreens transition smoothly into their new environment during December planting, follow these steps:

  1. Select Healthy Specimens: Choose healthy, disease-free evergreens. Speak with a representative in the Peaceful Valley nursery if you have any questions. Healthy trees have a better chance of thriving during the winter months.
  1. Prepare the Planting Hole: Dig a hole slightly wider but no deeper than the tree's root ball. Ensure it can accommodate the root system without bending or crowding the roots.
  1. Watering: Before planting, thoroughly water the evergreen in its container to ensure the root ball is well-hydrated.
  1. Backfill Carefully: Fill the hole with soil, gently tamping it down to remove air pockets. Water the evergreen again after planting to settle the soil.
  1. Mulching: Apply a layer of mulch around the base of the evergreen to conserve moisture and regulate soil temperature. Avoid piling mulch against the trunk.
  1. Regular Watering: Even in cooler months, keep the soil consistently moist. Monitor moisture levels and water as needed. Even though these plants are drought tolerant, that does not eliminate the need for watering if you want to see them as thriving plants on your home property.

Planting evergreens in Northern California in December can be a rewarding endeavor. The region's climate and proper soil preparation and acclimatization set the stage for robust and healthy growth. By choosing the right evergreen species for your landscape and following these guidelines, you can ensure a successful winter planting project that will enhance your outdoor spaces for years to come. Don't let the winter chill deter you; embrace December planting and watch your evergreens thrive!

Any questions? Call or stop by our nursery in Grass Valley.  We’ll be happy to help you.

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