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Best Planting Conditions for Conifers

Making It Grow Minute

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. To successfully grow ornamental conifers (other than junipers!) in the warmer parts of South Carolina, you need to provide good growing conditions. Don’t plant in low spots that hold water and if you have heavy soils, create large areas with improved porosity and drainage – conifers need good air movement in their soils as they often have to extend their respiration cycle past sundown to support transpiration. Transpiration is a cooling mechanisms some conifers must use to survive the hot summer nights we have in most of the state. But, when temperatures are high and it doesn’t rain, you still need to irrigate these plants. Apply water slowly so it spreads horizontally across the soil and provides moisture to the entire root zone. Be sure you mulch properly – three inches at most - to help cool the soils and preserve soil moisture.

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.