Conifers for Southeastern US z 8/9

nikkie_in_torontoApril 11, 2012

Hello everyone. I will soon be moving to Charleston, South Carolina and would like to take my conifer addiction with me. I have spent most of my life gardening in Toronto Ontario and Cleveland Ohio so this will be quite an adjustment in that most conifers, especially along the Great Lakes prosper very well. I have read through quite a few older posts on here and am trying to narrow down a few specimens to search for. Most of the nurseries I've visited have very basic plant material for the Southern garden, so I would love advice from anyone who may be located in the South for sources of more unusual plant material. Also, I have a list of plants that seem to prosper in the area, but I didnt know if any of you could help and give advice with any hands on experience... I would like to go beyond the traditional Cedrus deodara, Cupressus sempervirens, Cupressocyapris and native pines I see all over the South. Here is a list of a few possibilities that peaked my interest, IMO..

Araucaria (not sure which species), Athrotaxis laxifolia Cathaya, Calocedrus decurrens, Juniperus Cedrus, Lagarostrobos franklinii, Dacrydium Cupressinium, Taiwania cryptomeroides

If you have any suggestions I would so appreciate your advice! Thank you.. N :-)

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Blue Cupressus cashmeriana:

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 4:55PM
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What a change it will be coming from chilly Ontario to steamy South Carolina. After looking at your list, I can make a few suggestions from my own personal experience. Araucaria angustifolia and possibly bidwillii would be okay but araucana would be a no-no as they get root rot. Athrotaxis will quickly melt in the heat. I tried Calocedrus decurrens and it crapped out but if you could find some of the rarer Calocedrus from Asia, they would probably do better. Know of one Dacrydium that has survived at least a year outside so worth a try. Don't know of any Lagarostrobos so can't comment but all the others you have should do fine. Some of these plants you may find online but many of the very rare one's are going to much harder to come by unless you have an extensive network of connections.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 10:00PM
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Beautiful pictures of the cupressus, jaro. Thank you.

thank you too scpalmnut. It is quite different having to worry about the heat rather than worry about the cold. I saw two beautiful araucaria at one of the plantation gardens outside of Charleston, but the signs simply said "araucaria" so I didnt know which ones would prosper. The two specimes I saw were much narrower than araucana and the needles a very deep green. Wish I had a picture.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 10:37PM
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I too love Cupressus cashmeriana. It's one of my favorite conifers

Even in my Oklahoma 7A, we get too cold for it. But you might be a safe bet.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 10:10AM
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The cupressus cashmeriana is a beautiful tree. I wish I knew of some sources for conifers in the South, but I dont. I see a lot of Cedrus and Cupressocyparis sold, but not much else at the local nurseries. there are so many more beautiful conifers for the south, as I keep investigating, the problem is finding them. I'm used to a particular template of plant material in zone 6 and conifers for zone 8/9 are quite different, obviously.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 10:54AM
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Cuppressus arizonica takes the heat well also and is pretty easy to find. I like 'Blue Pyramid'.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 1:03PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Strike anything from your list not from China or the humid side (i.e., Brazil and Argentina) of South America. All those Tasmania/NZ plants will die sooner or later. You realize most of NZ & Tasmania have summers as cool or cooler/wetter than SE England? The record high, ever, for most of that biome is 32C, which is Charleston's average high. I wouldn't rule out a Australian mainland conifer surviving there: you might try a Wollemia although it could eventually die of root rot. One remaining clone sounds like a genetic bottleneck to me.

Calocedrus probably doesn't do well south of Washington DC. It comes from the very dry summer Seirra Nevada and it's slightly remarkable it does as well in SE PA & NJ as it does, but I've seen some great ones. The NCSU arb. does list one (, but I don't remember seeing any there, and four feet of growth after 10 years isn't a good sign. OTOH, the coast Redwood DOES grow well in NC, and would be an option for you, assuming you have the space.

You can find plenty of discussions in past threads of firs that might grow down there, Abies firma is probably the only sure bet for coastal SC.

You don't mention Pseudotsuga wilsoniana, although, having no fragrance, it's perhaps a bit boring compared to douglas fir, which definitely isn't an option. You see a few in SE PA, but they don't look too happy. I know of a wealthy guy from Colorado who's been trying to grow them on his Main Line estate, he can't get them established.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 1:44PM
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Specialty Ornamentals out of Georgia will have some Cuppressus cashmeriana in one gallons for fall mail order delivery.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 1:47PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Thanks for the tip Jagman. I haven't heard of that nursery but they have a nice, if somewhat small, mail order list.

When I said Calocedrus of course I meant C. decurrens, the California one. I had been curious to try C. formosana, but a couple people told me it was only zn 8 hardy. Most of inhabited Taiwan is >= zn 10, only the mountains are cold in winter. Like the Calocedrus in California, it apparently isn't a very high elevation species. Descending from the Sierra Nevada, Calocedrus was the last native conifer I saw at only around 2000'. Still, that would be find for Charleston, which is the northernmost area that old Phoenix palms are found on the East Coast. Which I'd call a good zn 9 indicator for humid climates.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 1:55PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Calocedrus formosana would be fine in SC, assuming you could find one.
NCSU has a picture of a small chinese Calocedrus.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 1:59PM
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Thank you both. I do recall reading on another post that most conifers from the Southern Hemisphere were a no go in the Southeastern US. I should look at more of the cupressus. I'm surprised that sequoia sempervirens is doing well in the humidity of NC. I wonder how it would do a bit further south? I've read mixed reports about Cedrus atlantica in the South, but I assume its probably a stretch as far south as Charleston.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 2:23PM
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midtn(7a TN)

I'm also from Cleveland originally but I've been living in Nashville for many years now. I would check out the Atlanta Botanical Garden if you get a chance. There are a lot of conifers there that may work for you.

I'm more familiar with what will work around the mid south but maybe try:

Abies firma
Florida Torreya
Araucaria angustofolia
Cathaya argyrophylla
Keteleeria davidiana
Sequoia sempervirens
Thuja plicata
Cunninghamia lanceolata
Chamaecyparis thyoides
Cedrus deodara 'Aurea' is gorgeous
Tons of Junipers!
Pinus glabra (I like but doesn't do well here in Nashville - too cold)

I'm sure there are many pines that will work and some spruce (Picea).

Here is a link that might be useful: Heat Tolerant Conifers

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 4:08PM
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Arizona Cypress - glabra : Clemson Greenspire and Carolina Sapphire were both developed in Carolinas and apparently do well there in well-drained areas. Don't know how they would fare so close to the ocean and if well-drained soil is possible there.
Hinoki Cypress might do well there.
Bald Cypress will do well there.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 4:12PM
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