Growing fruit trees next to conifers

Growing fruit trees next to conifers

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Growing fruit trees next to conifers may sound like a recipe for disaster, but this hybrid technique could also protect the soil

“How do you make a rose a bit more resilient?” asks Jonny Craddock, gesturing to his garden. Behind the rows of fruit trees and lavender, he points to a series of stone posts planted in the middle of a long-unplanted strip of grass, which will in future shelter his two varieties of rose from the wind. The planting of these windbreaks is typical of what Craddock, a horticulturalist at Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire, likes to do in his plots, where he is growing a mixture of conifers, roses, and fruit trees.

This might sound like a recipe for disaster, but Craddock’s approach — growing fruit trees next to conifers — could be a way to prevent wind damage to plants in this climate. That’s because, as he explains, conifers, unlike other trees, grow naturally with a deep root system, which creates tension in their branches when they’re exposed to strong winds. As a result, says Craddock, “the branches are very taut, and they create turbulence” that can damage nearby plants.

Conifers do not do well when growing in warmer climates, but growing them together does not necessarily mean you have to abandon your other plants. “When you plant conifers in a windbreak, you have to have lots of water — that’s the only way you’re going to get the [root] systems to grow,” says Craddock. That can be tricky when you’re growing shrubs and flowers, but there are strategies. With a little planning and preparation, you can protect your roses, lavender, and other plants next to conifers.

Craddock recommends starting early. “When you plant conifers, [they] grow fast. They don’t take five or six years to get to this point,” he says. That means you can plant a conifer in the fall, then wait until spring to start the roses and other flowers. “You can protect them during the winter with an insulation barrier,” he says. The barrier can be a sheet of cardboard or a plastic bag. Just don’t use Styrofoam, he warns. That will harm plants.

To protect plants as you establish the conifers, Craddock suggests creating borders around them, rather than planting them into the landscape itself. “You can plant these conifer trees within an arbor, within a flower bed, or you can create a nice border with some flowering shrubs and perennials,” he says. “You can do some pruning, you can bring in some color. You can do a lot.” That’s an especially useful strategy when it comes to your roses.

“You can plant different roses to provide some variety to your rose garden,” Craddock says. “When you’re starting to establish conifers, you can plant the same roses you planted five years ago to establish that area.”

He offers this list of suggested roses: “Climbing, semi-evergreen, rambling, and trailing,” he says. “Just think about the colors and the variegated colors. There are plenty of different colors.” In addition, Craddock says, “They come in many sizes.” He adds, “You can find a variety of roses for every size conifer.”

The idea of making sure your conifers can provide protection, while your flowers can provide color, is great, but how do you make it happen?

First, understand that as you plant them, you need to make sure they have good drainage, says Conifers, Inc.’s John Zwagerman, of Pottstown, Pennsylvania. For example, he says, if you’re putting pines or firs in a bed, you might want to set them on blocks to give them good drainage, or lay your pines or firs in a raised bed. (When you’re planting a conifer, it’s best to choose a location that will allow you to move the tree out if it needs to be for some reason.)

If you are using a pot, he says, “Make sure the pot is well drained, and you’ll need to use your hand to push some of the drainage holes down into the hole for the pot.”

When your planting is finished, he says, “Give it a thorough watering.”

Your trees also may need to be fertilized. But what type of fertilizer?

“Fertilizing your conifers at least once a year is very important to them,” says Susan Giese, owner of Conifers, Inc. “There are various types of fertilizers available.”

How do you fertilize? “It’s best to start the season off with a complete fertilizer for them, and that’s one of the many reasons I recommend you plant your conifers in the springtime,” she says.

When you’re using a complete fertilizer, says Giese, “you’ll be fertilizing for a whole season. If you’re putting a fertilizer on just your flowering conifers, it’s better to fertilize them just once, after your trees come into flower.”

Giese juga berkata dia mengesyorkan baja konifer kegunaan umum. "Ia hanya pilihan yang lebih menjimatkan," katanya.

Nota berhati-hati mengenai pembajaan

"Apabila membaja, saya sentiasa mengesyorkan agar orang ramai berhati-hati dan tidak keterlaluan," kata Giese. "Jika anda mula meletakkan sesuatu di tanah yang mengatakan, 'Anda boleh melakukan apa sahaja yang anda mahu,' itu biasanya tidak berlaku."

Tetapi berhati-hati dengan beberapa tumbuhan yang berisiko terbakar baja. Mereka termasuk konifer, mawar dan sayur-sayuran seperti tomato, kata Giese.

"Sentiasa baja tanah di sekeliling tumbuhan sebelum anda meletakkan baja pada mereka," katanya.

Baja selepas pokok anda mekar. "Tetapi jika anda membaja konifer anda pada musim bunga, jangan membajanya seminggu selepas ia mekar."

Giese mengatakan bahawa "kebanyakan orang tidak tahu cara menyuburkan konifer mereka pada musim bunga, jadi mereka cuba melakukannya sebelum mereka mula berbunga. Jika pokok anda berbunga pada masa yang sama anda mula membaja, bunga itu sering dihanyutkan."

Masa terbaik untuk menyuburkan konifer berbunga adalah selepas ia mekar, katanya. Itu juga merupakan masa terbaik untuk menyuburkan pada musim bunga untuk kebanyakan pokok dan pokok renek.

"Dengan konifer berbunga, terdapat dua masa apabila mereka paling terdedah. Satu pada musim bunga, dan satu lagi pada musim luruh. Jika anda membaja pada musim bunga, anda akan mengetuk mereka keluar dari bunga.

Ia berbeza dengan malar hijau. "Orang-orang budiman, yang merupakan pokok konifer biasa, mereka akan mengambil baja berganda