Is my Zone 7 too hot to grow Larix?

texjagman(7A)April 23, 2014

When I see zone 2 trees, red flags go up that they probably cannot handle my hot Oklahoma zone 7 summers.

Can anyone give me an opinion on whether Larix will handle my heat?

thanks
Mark

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beng(z6 western MD)

Prb'ly. Repeated 100F+ days in Texas are not larch-friendly.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 10:53AM
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fairfield8619(Zone 8 NW LA)

This will be the second season here with Larix kaempferi, it grew at least 1ft last year maybe more from bare root. I have two but one did not grow very much, I think it got too much water so I moved it but it looks pretty good. Will it continue to grow? Who knows but they were cheap so no loss. I'm almost the same for temps as you here in Shreveport maybe a little more humid. They are almost completely pushed now. Dappled shade on a slope if that makes a difference. I hand watered well last year.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 11:03AM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Sorry, fairfield, I'm almost sure your Larix kaempferi will die when the right species of Phytophthora finds it. Between L. X eurolepis and L. kaempferi I must have lost close to 10 plants now. I just don't think for whatever reason they are tough enough for the US SE. I've previously expounded on my theory that L. kaempferis are probably inbred, having gone from Japan, to England, to here, as seedlings. They are all dying in England which suggests a lack of genetic heterozygosity. Some of mine lasted as long as 5 or so years, and would grow very fast when happy, but defoliate quickly if they got to hot & dry. If you can find a record of an arboretum in the southeast or south central US having a Larix, let me know. There was a scraggly old Larix decidua at Oatlands in Leesburg, VA, that had been there for over a hundred years. I seem to recall someone saying it was finally dead, but it never looked too happy. There are some nice Larix at Longwood. For now I'd say that is the southern limit for any typical species of Larix in the lowlands of the eastern US!
OTOH, my rare Larix mastersiana (on its own roots, of course) is a very promising plant at least for the upper south. It grows more slowly but steadily and never flinches in heat. For now it's impossible to find though I have made an effort to distribute scions. Considering all Larix species as a whole, it strikes me as the one most likely to encounter a long, humid summer as it occurs fairly far south in China, albeit at some elevation.
NB Pseudolarix can grow in the south. That's the only one I would recommend TexJagman try, but even then in a spot w/afternoon shade. They look similar and may even color better in the fall.

This post was edited by davidrt28 on Wed, Apr 23, 14 at 17:14

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 5:08PM
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fairfield8619(Zone 8 NW LA)

O course an experiment. Maybe on a slope will help, who knows..
Phytophthora is the state fungus of Louisiana probably! I have the Larix mastersiana as well, we'll see about that one too. Also have two of the Pseudolarix and should pose no problem.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 7:11PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

A reminder of how picturesque these are in their native alpine haunts. This is Larix decidua in the Poschiavo Valley.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 7:49PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

The same trees in autumn:

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 7:51PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

MOBOT has at least one. The biggest I have noticed is a 20 - 30 ft tree but is not particularly happy looking compared to the nearby metasequoias and taxodiums.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 12:02AM
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fairfield8619(Zone 8 NW LA)

Apparently there is or was one on the University of AL campus. I asked about updates to the page but never heard back.

Here is a link that might be useful: UAH Campus Trees

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 12:42AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

FWIW Ray at Forestfarm said he would have tube size L. mastersiana available this fall.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 8:27AM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

Just plant Pseudolarix amabilis.

Dax

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 8:52AM
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beng(z6 western MD)

David, what are the symptoms of Phytophthora? On my two larches, the foliage comes out OK, but fades badly by midsummer & drops off -- lowest branches on the Japanese larch and the whole Dunkeld larch. I'm sure it's not water or heat directly....

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 9:19AM
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texjagman(7A)

The particular varietal I'm looking at is Larix decidua 'Prag' . And the location I plan to put it in is fairly shaded. But there are so many varietals that regardless of shade from our brutal direct sun, they just can't take the daily heat and high root temps we have here in Oklahoma.

Any particular thoughts on Larix decidua?

Mark

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 10:18AM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

You can always try it...let us know. Personally, I think it has a snowball's chance in Hell! Actually, if I wanted to try a Larix decidua cultivar even here, I'd try to get it grafted onto Pseudotsuga sinensis or P. wilsoniana, but good luck with that. Hardly anyone is producing seedlings of those. For Texas, IMHO, better to just wait until Forestfarm has Larix mastersiana. And still, be prepared to coddle that because it most definitely isn't going to accept a bone dry growing season. As I've mentioned before about mine, it survived the early summer mild droughts of 2010, 2011 and 2012 with minimal watering...but a drought here is nothing like a drought there, and each of those years had plenty of catch up rain later in summer.

As for the Missouri Botanic Garden, if you actually use their plant explorer, you will find that most larches they've tried have died.

Beng, IMHO the main symptom of Phytophthora is death! LOL. If your plant is defoliating but surviving, I suspect it has another problem. You are near or in the mountains, and not far from native stands of larches. (at the very highest elevations) Could an insect be damaging them that is hard to spot?

BTW while we are discussing the closely related Pseudotsuga (amusingly, Pseudolarix is NOT closely related to Larix) - I should mention before I forget that the needles of my Pseudotsuga sinensis continued to show decline through the spring. However, it is definitely alive, and is budded up and ready to replace the needles. But it probably couldn't or shouldn't do that year after year. So overall, at this point, if you compare it to my Sequoia sempervirens you would observe that if it is hardier, it is barely so. Whatever I've said previously about that probably being zn 6 hardy, amend to zn 7a. But the fact they grow in Florida and what I've observed about my own plants (tough as can be in summer heat) makes me think they would be a better rootstock for any Larix in a southeastern US climate. It's possible you could find a slightly hardier Asian Pseudotsuga, but you'd have to search out a cold spot from which to collect it. Even the highest elevations of Taiwan are ridiculously mild. I wonder where the current seed lots of Pseudotsuga sinensis were collected.
BTW I used to post about my plant, from Camforest, as Pseudotsuga wilsoniana. However in checking my records I see that what I actually ordered was P. sinensis.

This post was edited by davidrt28 on Thu, Apr 24, 14 at 11:45

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 11:36AM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

One more thing.
I still have one L. kaempferi in the garden. It is in a tough spot that gets just a bit of gutter drain pipe outflow. (would otherwise be well draining soil, and probably is after the rain stops) Will be interesting to observe how it does. It would be possible, just as there is w/Rhododendron cultivars, that some can shrug off the root rots. But my overall ratio w/Larix kaempferi is still about 1 out of 4 surviving, which are terrible odds. And my ratio with the 5 (IIRC) L. X eurolepis I tried over the years is 0/5 surviving, which is worse! Including one that lasted about 5 years and got over 8' tall. As I said before, the hybrids seemed to show what I would call stupid hybrid vigor. After a rainy spring period they might grow like crazy, even small plants pushing out 1' shoots. Then when it got hot in early summer, they would start looking stressed. It's like the tops grew too fast for the roots. BTW I doubt I ever fertilized them. OTOH, the Larix mastersiana always grew slowly and steadily until last summer, when it pushed out a 2' leader after 4 years.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 12:03PM
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fairfield8619(Zone 8 NW LA)

Dave, I can't imagine not watering almost anything here including natives, even they look bedraggled and beaten up and sometimes die without watering. If you want it to look decent and actually grow you have to water and water a lot. In Jul Aug and Sept we basically get no usable rain. Do you not at least water marginal plants?
I surprised a larch would drop needles in MD too, even the less vigorous one I have didn't drop any. There must be something to do with the soil.
I think experimentation is key, you never know what might grow.
Even things one never thinks might grow, two I found surprising Tom Cox says:
Picea koyamae less than 100 left on one mountain in Japan, perfectly adaptable here
Picea likiangensis var montigena a beautiful spruce with striking blue needles. Right at home.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 12:19PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

One more point.
It's telling to me that Larix kaempferi is native to a pretty small part of Japan. Just the mountains of central Honshu. Unlike Cryptomeria that grows all over the country. Suggests a limited ability to adopt. From trying scores of rare South African plants, I can say that the ones that occur all over the place, from 100m to 2500m of elevation, are tougher than the ones found at one spot at 2800m of elevation.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 12:20PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Fairfield...well, it is true I don't coddle my plants. Your concern echoes a question beng asked me a year ago.
But I think my policy might pay out in the end...look at my 'Ogon' for example. I *know* that plant can fend for itself. I probably did water it during its first year, which is my general policy. You get a year of supervision, then you better toughen up.
Compare to the one Larix I did get to grow at least 8' and have a caliper of about 1". Then...it dies during a *wet* spell! Better now than when it was 25' tall!

At first I was surprised you have to water much in the summer, but then I looked at the Prism data and see the the NW of Louisiana is not nearly as wet as New Orleans.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 12:30PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

FWIW NW LA doesn't look any drier than here in MD, although since it is hotter, its EFFECTIVELY drier.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 12:37PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Oh, also, I have mostly silty soil that generally drains well but is moisture retentive...summer that are somewhat cloudy even by US east coast standards (i.e., a lot cloudier than yours)...and rainfall that is usually well distributed. I'd say in an *average* year here...would be nice if we could get a string of those going again...you could have planted a well raised ironclad rhododendron in a correct spot, and never have to do anything to it. Not true of many other places in the country, even the PNW where it might want some summer water at first. In fact 2006 was a nice growing year, and I seem to recall of the first rhododendrons I bought at Rarefind...'Vulcan', 'Capistrano' for example, I did not water them at all that year. Of course, Hank's warning that 'Capistrano' was really 'Crapistrano' proved to be true, as a wet spell in the summer of 2012 killed the 4'X4' plant almost overnight. It had been my biggest rhodie. The 'Vulcan' of course is still around, only yellow rhododendrons (of the standard cultivars) have that tedious susceptiblity to phytophthora.

In fact when I moved to the upper bay, it was pretty remarkable how different the plants were compared to Washington DC. In the gardens surrounding it, you could find many ironclad rhodies in full sun; wild Kalmias self-seeding along the highway in abandon, horsechestnut trees which still defoliated but not as badly as they do further south, white birches in many people's yards, etc. etc. The summers of 2010 through 2012 killed off a lot of the white birches.

This post was edited by davidrt28 on Thu, Apr 24, 14 at 12:51

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 12:46PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

"FWIW NW LA doesn't look any drier than here in MD, although since it is hotter, its EFFECTIVELY drier."

Yes, I should have made that point but I knew it would be obvious to Fairfield, at least! When I was in Texas a few winters ago, I couldn't believe how strong the sun seemed, even then. Though the temp. on the car themometer read 65F in both places, you could drive around the Bay Area (CA) with the windows closed. In high elevation west Texas, the car seemed to start cooking.

And while this bit of climate minutiae is being discussed...no official map of cloud cover really shows the northwestern shore of the Bay as being cloudier. However, the folk wisdom seems to be that it is. I've seen a post from a woman on city-data who moved from somewhere on the eastern shore, I think it was Ocean City, to Bel Air, MD. She was railing about how the weather sucked and it was overcast all summer. Hyperbole, but I think she was onto something. Also remember a Washingtonpost.com (I think) article about Michael Phelps buying a super expensive condo in downtown Baltimore. Some Philadelphian dude posted something like "I drive back and forth between DC & Philly all the time. Baltimore has the sh-ttiest, cloudiest weather imaginable! It is always sunny in Philadelphia, and always cloudy in Baltimore!" I do remember several times leaving a partly sunny Columbia, MD, when I worked there...and driving towards a cloud bank visible across the harbor as I entered the tunnel. On the other side of the tunnel, and all the way up to Cecil County, it would be cloudy and drizzly.

This post was edited by davidrt28 on Thu, Apr 24, 14 at 13:02

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 12:47PM
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fairfield8619(Zone 8 NW LA)

I actually need to water now. It is much closer to texjagman than NO. It is a lot drier with the E/T, we are the hottest, coldest and driest part of the state. And we get basically full sunlight radiation in Jun Jul Aug and Sept, whereas NO is cloudly much of the time. I am closer to Dallas by 100 mi than to NO. People never mention LA without mentioning NO.
Interesting trivia- when Katrina was ravaging NO, we were basking in partly cloudy skies with a nice fresh breeze and temps in the lower 80's which is very rare in Aug. Back flow from the storm. Rita was very different, the eye went directly over at TS strength.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 1:01PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Thanks for the clarification Fairfield. I will adjust my mental mapping of your conditions!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 1:03PM
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sweet_betsy No AL Z7

I do not find the larix on the list for UAH trees so apparently didn't make it here in Zone 7 North Alabama.

Here is a link that might be useful: UAH trees

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 1:08PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Thanks betsy.
The fact it got it up to a certain size doesn't surprise me at all. The killing root rots aren't in every square centimeter of soil, everywhere. However when conditions are right, and they find a weak plant, they can really go to town. It's like the 8-9' Monkey Puzzle some guy had in Columbia, MD. He probably got it at a place like APF that was usually selling them about 2-3' high. (and for $200+ bucks) He coddled it for a few years, making sure it was watered, etc. Then, you got a wet spell in summer, the right spore blows in, and bam...the thing is dead in a couple weeks.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 1:15PM
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fairfield8619(Zone 8 NW LA)

Did you click the link above? your link is for the deciduous trees, there are two pages. Also they don't say it died, they never answered back, I asked if there were going to be any updates not just for the larix for all the trees. Maybe someone else could email them and asked again sometimes if people show an interest that might prompt them.
Mark, I myself wouldn't try any european or western larch but who knows you might get away with it. I just would not pay a lot for an experiment.

Here is a link that might be useful: The link again

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 3:11PM
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texjagman(7A)

As for watering, all my trees here are on drip irrigation. It would be impossible to have a chance with most exotic conifers without it.

I do like to experiment to some extent...pushing zones as far as I can without being stupid. I currently have an 10' Beech - Fagus sylvatica 'Red Obelisk'
- that was shipped into a nursery here by mistake. So I got it cheap enough to try it. I tucked it away in a pretty dappled shade area and we're on our third year together. While I can tell it doesn't do wonderfully, so far it is sticking with me. But at the same time I will never try to grow Abies here, or Umbrella pines, or most any Pinus strobus, or even most Chamaecyparis. So I've learned my lessons over the years.

But it sounds like this one might be a gray enough area it would be worth a try.

thanks
Mark

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 3:14PM
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gamekeeper

Almost two years ago I bought a Larix Laricina(Tamarack) size 5 at Forestfarm and it has grown like a weed of course our drought season is minimal in comparison.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 3:55PM
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fairfield8619(Zone 8 NW LA)

I have wondered if F. sylvatica grafted onto F. grandifolia would be advantageous then the roots would be out of the mix. A. firma would grow there I'm certain but it is not your typical fir. I think you are probably more prone to hot and desiccating periods from out of the west than I am. I am about to bite the bullet and try Sciadopitys after talking to the owner of Nurseries Caroliana, he said they are doing well there, drainage is the key he said.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 4:04PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Drumroll, please...
You have to remember I have been emailing people about plants for over 15 years now. There are a lot of people in my address book. I emailed Robert Redmon and he says UAH still has _3_, and the largest is 20 ft. tall and is coning!

I just noticed something interesting about the MOBOT trees. Notice the only ones still alive were directly from Japanese scions or seed. This could confirm my suspicion that part of the problem is most seed stocks in the US have inbreeding depression because they came via a few trees in western Europe.

BTW - I last emailed him in the late 1990s, but also via gardenweb. I think he used to participate here. The funny thing is I can't even remember what my user ID was back then. I started reusing gardenweb with this account when I lived near Rt. 28 in Fairfax Co. (That was my 2nd garden after my parents sold their house) He bravely tried a few experimental things there that people said wouldn't grow well in Alabama. Well, this proves sometimes those people are wrong. Although I don't know that anyone told him Larix wouldn't grow.

BTW - no, I hadn't clicked on the link! It just said Trees. But by the time I posted what I posted in response to Betsy, I had already emailed Mr. Redmon.

This post was edited by davidrt28 on Thu, Apr 24, 14 at 17:19

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 5:05PM
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fairfield8619(Zone 8 NW LA)

Interesting there are three still there, actually quite surprised. On the site clay is mentioned several times and I figured that would be its undoing, looks like that is not the case.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 12:32AM
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texjagman(7A)

fairfield8619,

I don't know how many high 90 and low 100 degree days you have during the summer in your location, but I tried umbrella pines multiple times, mostly in dappled shade to shade, and I never got any to last even through one summer here. I'd love to grow them, but it just hasn't worked for me. So please let me know if you have success and on which varietals. Just fair warning.

Mark

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 8:56AM
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fairfield8619(Zone 8 NW LA)

Mark, I thought so too but they're growing them in Augusta-Aiken and it is almost a carbon copy weatherwise. Can you grow azaleas and rhododendrons? The umbrella pines want very acid soil and no clay supposedly, OKC is less humid, they want it very moist. You know I have to try and fail for myself, it's always like that.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 9:38AM
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