Conifers Are Different – Why?

In the order of things – plantwise – there are flowering plants (Angiosperms) and there are cone bearing plants (Gymnosperms)

Flowering plants, like this Apple Tree are pollinated, and their seed grows hidden away inside an ovary. The ovary is the swelling which occurs behind the pollinated flower, in this case it’s the Apple. So when you eat it, you are eating a swollen ovary.

In Conifers like this Pine, the seeds form inside a cone. The word Gymnosperm means ‘Naked Seed’.

There are of course many different types of conifer, as this photo demonstrates. Interestingly, there are only 3 Conifers that are British natives – Yew, Juniper and Scots Pine.

However, they differ slightly from the Flowering Plants when it comes to pruning, as it is best to carry this out when they are actively growing, say between late April and October.

And whilst Conifers can be planted bare root when they are small, care should be taken to shield those roots from drying out, and as with pruning, this is better done when root activity is on the up.

Unlike Deciduous plants, Evergreen Conifers are always in leaf, and continue to Photosynthesis during the Winter months, albeit at a much reduced rate. This means that it continues to transpire and lose water through its leaf. Water with which, through contact with the soil it can replenish itself. This is why a newly winter-planted bare root conifer can die of drought stress before the Spring comes along. At that time it has such negligible root activity that it can’t pick up any moisture from the soil to counter the drying action of the moving air.
And even a container-planted conifer will stand a better chance from April onwards.

The last thing I want to point out is this. Not all Conifers are evergreen. You may have noticed this yourself, particularly if say a Pine forest has Larch planted along with it. The yellow colour or Larch trees in autumn as they prepare to shed their needles.
There are commonly 4 deciduous conifers that you could come across on your travels :- Larch, False Larch, Dawn Redwood and Swamp Cypress.