5 conifers for central texas

tcharles26(usa texas)September 22, 2007

Taking a cue from Ken - I'll suggest 5 conifers that are good in my region, central Texas. Zone 8b.

Cedrus deodara, or actually any cedrus in my opinion. Curiously, the sunset national garden book reccomends cedrus deodara here but not the other cedrus. How different is the climate in the atlas mountains from the himalayas where the deodar grows? I think they will all do fine unless you're in the hill country and have no soil. Also, the plain species trees are very big in time so not a small lot tree but the cedars are heavily cultivated and lots of dwarf or intermediate selections are available.

Cupressus sempervirens. I posted some photos of a gold variety recently that are pretty neat. I like the regular horizontalis type more than the "stricta" but it just isn't available at nurseries.

Cupressus arizonica or glabra. Lots of blue and yellow clones. They grow really fast here. Native to a tiny part of west Texas.

Taxodium. Native here. Gets huge here in time. Can grow in standing water but fine on drier locations too.

Lots of different juniper species work here. Ashei is native to the hill country but scarcely cultivated. Chinese juniper is planted along freeways and ignored and does fine. I've seen pretty large virginiana and scopulorum cultivars and relatively few locales work for both of those species. I have squamata, procumbens, even communis cultivars and haven't killed a juniper yet.

Pines are generally tricky. East Texas has native pines. So does west Texas (mostly in mountains). Central Texas has none, unless you count a tiny part of the SW corner of the edwards plateau as "central". Theres a really nice pinyon pine there, which I've posted pics of before. FWIW I think several species will work here, just haven't been tried. One frequently reccomended by the 'experts' at the extension office is thunbergii. But I've been looking for a long time for nice large one in cultivation and they all look like crap.

You almost never see any spruce trees. I have never seen a true fir planted in this region.

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The only good pics I've seen of Pinus thunbergii have been from Japan. Never seen a decent one in Britain, nor on my travels anywhere else (not been to Japan).

Cedrus - the difference between the Atlas and the Himalaya is rainfall patterns - the Himalaya, like Texas, has a summer maximum, while the Atlas gets nearly all its precipitation in winter, as snow - more like the southern Sierra Nevada in California.

One I'd add to the TX to-try list is Keteleeria - like an Abies, but loves heat and drought.


    Bookmark   September 22, 2007 at 4:51PM
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tcharles26(usa texas)

Keteleeria Pubescens is in catalog I have. I thought about getting one. But I have a small residential lot and tons of plants. Wouldn't it get monstrous pretty fast?

    Bookmark   September 22, 2007 at 5:43PM
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Not monstrous, but it is a proper 'tree-sized' tree, maybe 20 metres or so in the long term. It can however be coppiced (unlike most of the rest of the Pinaceae), so there's the option of growing it for a few years, cutting it when it gets large, and letting it regrow from the stump.


    Bookmark   September 22, 2007 at 6:52PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

never heard of most of them... lol ...

i do grow the purist version of taxodium up here ...

and i have quite a few thunbergii .... though young.. resin .. what makes a 'good one'????? .. i suppose variegation turns your stomach .. lol ...

here is a little one .... P. t. 'mini mounds' .. growing like a weed .... and one of my current favorites .. and green for Michael .. lol

cant find a variegated one.. maybe tomorrow... ken

    Bookmark   September 22, 2007 at 7:59PM
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coniferfreak(z6 PA)

Beautiful! Hey Ken, are those your 'Green Giants' in the background? They look great!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2007 at 11:41PM
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That's awesome Ken. I'm adding it to my list as I always do.

tcharles, my favorite Taxodium distichum which I'm sure you're already familiar with is: 'Shawnee Brave'.
I'd also add Taxodium distichum 'Pendens' for a very large single-specimen (only).

My current favorite Cedrus deodara is:
'Eisregen'. Here's some pictures:
UBC Conifer Photo Gallery Thread

Later on Gangsters,


    Bookmark   September 23, 2007 at 8:00AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Seeing that Central Texas soil is alkaline soil, are you talking about west/central texas source bald cypress that can thrive in alkaline soil better than east Texas source which is mainly acidic soil?

Where I live (south of Dallas), the soil is pretty much exact same as Central Texas so I have to look at Central Texas and see what grows well rather than East Texas that big boxes seem to sell a lot of plants that do well in East Texas including bald cypress. No wonder why they look crappy. The best conifer i've seen around here is that Taxodium Mucronatum. Dark green leaves...

About pine tree... You might want to check out Italian Stone Pine tree (P. Pinea). It was recommended over any other pine trees including black japanese. Texas Forest Service is selling these seedlings for West and Central Texas. You might want to talk to them about it how they perform compared to others.

Juniper (eastern cedar)is very common but does great in crappy soil... Best wind break and privacy screening trees money can buy around here.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2007 at 9:07AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Taxodium mucronatum aka Montezuma Cypress a couple miles from my house. By far the best looking taxodium in alkaline soil. This is either planted in native heavy clay topsoil (usually around 2-4 feet if you're lucky; terrible when wet though) with caliche/limestone subsoil (very deep) or directly into crushed caliche soil (like mine). Most bald cypress trees look like they do not belong in my area. Maybe East Texas source?

Another promising taxodium is TM-TD hybrid called 'nanjing beauty' which supposedly can tolerate up to pH of 8.5. I'm going to plant one soon... Hopefully it will turn out great.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2007 at 11:23AM
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I'd love to give a Keteleeria davidiana a try. I haven't seen one listed in the usual places (at least where I've looked). Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   September 24, 2007 at 3:01PM
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tcharles26(usa texas)

I think pubescens is probably properly conisidered a variety or subspecies of davidiana.

Not easy to find any of them. Seed should be fine because you would mail order the plants anyway and couldn't get a large one.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2007 at 7:44PM
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My top 5 for this reigon would vary slightly:
1 - Eastern Red Cedar - looks good and thrives easily
2 - Arizona Cypress - usually looks good and thrives fairly easily.
3 - Bald Cypress - looks good and thrives. I've seen these rated for up to 7.5 pH.
4 - Ashei Juniper - sometimes looks ok and thrives.
5 - Leyland Cypress - looks good and thrives if you water it during drought.
Some possible mentions :
Thuja Green Giant - 2nd summer, seems to be ok but slow growing.
Alligator Juniper - 3 seedlings growing slowly.
Pinus Sabiniana - 3 planted/first summer.
Think twice before you try these:
Deodar Cedar - I've seen them growing here, but mine will not and died.
Pinyon Pine - 2 of 6 are alive and green. SLOW and tempermental fits them in this area.
Loblolly pine - knew better but tried them anyway.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2007 at 10:15AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

How are the bald cypress doing in central Texas this year? I managed to get a true central Texas BC to try it out in DFW in caliche soil to see how it compared to east Texas BC that are obviously planted everywhere and don't seem to be doing good. The cypress I posted earlier in this thread, a nice one with deep green color is going on strong with no sign of distress at all unlike all the bald cypress. I don't know if it is truly bald cypress or montezuma cypress. Noone seems to be sure of it yet.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 6:37PM
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Took a trip down the upper part of the Guadalupe River in June. The bald cypress there were more beat up than I remember. Guess less year's floods were rough on them. About 1/3 of area had new bc seedlings growing here and there, on the other 2/3 of trip noticed no seedlings. Perhaps the grazing discourages establishment of seedlings.

A couple of my "Louisisana-sourced bald cypress appear to be suffering from chlorosis, the others seem ok. Guessing the gene pool generally covers adaptability to these soils.

Another possible conifer candidate for this area is Hinoki Cypress. I've planted 4 of them and they seem to be doing ok. My seed source is about a dozen trees growing on a vacant lot on top of a hill in Killeen. Will gather more seeds this winter if anyone wants some.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 9:05AM
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