Plants

Eastern Hemlock

Tsuga canadensis

Whether as an individual tree or a privacy hedge: Eastern Hemlock combines elegant growth with a dense needle dress. Here are our tips for planting and care.

Growth type
  • Conifer
Growth height (from)
from 1500 cm to 2000 cm
Growth width (from)
from 600 cm to 1200 cm
Growth characteristics
  • conical
  • sweeping
  • overhanging
  • multi-trunked
Flower color
  • yellow
  • red
Flowering time (month)
  • May
Flower shape
  • sphere
Flower characteristics
  • monoecious
  • unimpressive
Leaf color
  • green
page format
  • needle-shaped
Sheet properties
  • evergreen
Fruit color
  • brown
Fruit shape
  • Cone
Light
  • sunny to semi-shade
Soil type
  • gravelly to loamy
Soil Moisture
  • fresh to humid
ph value
  • neutral to acidic
Lime compatibility
  • sensitive to lime
Nutrient requirements
  • nutrient-rich
Humus
  • rich in humus
Decorative or utility value
  • picturesque growth
Toxicity
  • non-toxic
Winter Hardness
  • hardy
Climate zones according to USDA
  • 4
Use
  • Single position
  • pruned hedges
  • Group planting
  • privacy screen
Garden style
  • Park area
  • Forest Garden

Origin

The Eastern Hemlock or Canadian Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is native to Northern USA and Canada. There, it graces moist, cool and shady valleys and ravines which have developed in a 250 acre national park. In ideal conditions, this tree species from the Pine family (Pinaceae) can live for over 800 years. The Eastern Hemlock was introduced to Europe in 1730.

Growth

The Eastern Hemlock grows into an evergreen tree with a height of between 49 and 66 feet. It can be recognized by its trunk, which is extremely straight, right to the tip. At more advanced ages it can reach a diameter of up to 5 feet. The pyramid-shaped crown is characterized by horizontal branches which can extend for 20 to 26 feet. In a beautiful contrast to this, the branches grow in a graceful overhang. The young shoots are yellow to grayish-brown and have an average annual growth of between 6 and 12 inches in length.

Eastern Hemlock

The continuous, straight trunk is characteristic of the Eastern Hemlock

Leaves

The shiny, green soft needles of the Tsuga canadensis are situated in close helices on the branches and grow up to 0.8 inches long. These are conspicuous due to their round tips and two narrow, white bands on the underside of the leaves.

Flowers

The round, yellow male flowers and inconspicuous red female flowers appear separated from one another on every Eastern Hemlock in May.

Fruit

The brown, ovate cones of the Eastern Hemlock are situated on short stems on the branches. The are relatively short at just 0.6 to 0.78 inches long.

Male flowers of the Canadian Hemlock

Both the yellow male flowers and the female flowers appear in May

Location

Eastern Hemlock has a definitive preference for semi-shady locations with high levels of humidity. As their flat roots cannot stand up to stormy winds, you should find a sheltered place for them in the garden.

Soil

Eastern Hemlock has relatively high soil requirements. It must be nutrient-rich, fresh to moist and permeable. The evergreen tree also reacts sensitively to highly calciferous soils. Therefore, the intended terrain should have an acidic to neutral pH value.

Planting

The Eastern Hemlock should be planted in the fall as it does not tolerate dryness. This applies both for plants in a container as well as for bale plants. Your Eastern Hemlock grows better if you mix sand into loamy soil before planting. It is also advisable to put a thick layer of sand into the bottom of the planting hole. This serves as a drainage layer.

Care

The Eastern Hemlock is sensitive to dryness. If there are long dry spells or the Eastern Hemlock is in dry soil in the sun, it should be watered regularly. If you see that the needles are turning brown from the inside out and some are starting to drop, the tree should be thoroughly watered immediately. The Tsuga canadensis also appreciates a thorough fertilization and a magnesium treatment in the fall.

Pruning

The Eastern Hemlock is known to tolerate pruning. The best time to reach for the shears is in spring, before budding, so from February to April. If you would like to achieve better branching, you should only prune wood during the first year. Older trees are reluctant to bud. This applies in particular to branches which are over three years old. If you would like larger trees to have narrower growth, you can readily trim the side branches or remove one of two trunks at the base, provided the tree has several trunks. It is also possible to cap the top. However, you should be prepared for the tree to then offshoot several tips, which does not make the Tsuga canadensis look more attractive.
Hedges can also be cut a second time, on a cloudy day during the summer. Take care to ensure that the cut is made in a pyramid shape.

Eastern Hemlock hedge

The Eastern Hemlock is extremely tolerate to pruning and also looks great as a hedge

Utilization

The Eastern Hemlock is one of the most graceful coniferous trees. It’s beautiful shape is most noticeable as a solitary tree. But it doesn’t look any less effective in groups. There are now also lots of varieties which work well in small gardens. It’s less common knowledge that it also shines as a hedge.
Tsuga canadensis wood is readily used in building and construction. However, it is the paper industry where the Eastern Hemlock is absolutely essential.

Varieties

Breeders have created many compact varieties of Tsuga canadensis, which vary significantly from the species. The most well-known include three to seven foot high and wide, bushy EasternHemlock such as ‘Nana’, ‘Grennwood Lake’ or the round, densely branched dwarf ‘Jeddelo’, which only grows 1.5 to 3 feet wide. Tree nurseriesalso offer Eastern Hemlocks in the form of pads under the names ‘Popeleski’ or ‘Cole’s Prostate’. A real jewel is the hanging Eastern Hemlock, ‘Pendula’. It is characterized by its elegant growth and grows to between 10 and 13 feet tall. The varieties grafted to a main trunk are also very popular.

Tsuga canadensis ‘Nana’

Tsuga canadensis ‘Nana’ remains significantly smaller than the species and can also be grown as a Bonsai

Propagation

Seed sowing is a challenge and propagation is best left to gardening experts.

Diseases and Pests

The Eastern Hemlock is less susceptible to diseases and pest attacks. If it is not properly cared for it may fall foul to mealy bugs or mold.

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