Soft petite needles combined with cascading branches make hemlock one of the most graceful evergreen trees in any landscape. Whether you employ it as a specimen tree, a hedge plant, or a living screen, hemlock is an eye-catching year-round addition to the landscape. Some cultivars offer striking yellow-gold foliage.
Worth noting: No part of this tree is poisonous. Watch out for unrelated herbaceous perennials—poison hemlock Conium maculatum L. and water hemlock Cicuta maculata—both of which develop tall clusters of white flower and resemble Queen Anne’s lace Daucus carota subsp. L.
Call on hemlock to create a living screen on a property line or near a patio or porch. Its graceful branches will mask views in and out of your yard 12 months a year. Shade-tolerant hemlock is especially useful for planting in the shadow of taller trees. Dwarf hemlock trees make welcome additions to foundation plantings, perennial gardens, and shrub borders where they provide an upright accent and all-season interest. A favorite nesting spot for wildlife, hemlock is also a great plant for habitat-friendly backyards.
Hemlock Tree Care Must-Knows
Native to dense forests from eastern Canada south to the Appalachian Mountains to Georgia and Alabama, hemlock trees thrive in part to full shade and average well-drained soil. This needled evergreen does not grow well in areas with hot and humid summers—especially where the temperature consistently exceeds 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Protect this tree from hot afternoon sun and strong drying winds by siting it in a shaded, sheltered location.
Plant trees in spring or early summer and water them regularly during the first two years after planting to help them develop a strong root system. Cover the root zone with a 2-inch-thick layer of shredded bark mulch to prevent soil-moisture evaporation. Hemlock trees are sensitive to drought. Water them deeply during drought conditions and monitor year-round for drought stress (evidenced by needles that turn yellow and die). This condition makes hemlock trees susceptible to a host of other insect and disease problems.
Hemlock rarely needs pruning. If necessary, shape plants lightly in spring.
More Varieties of Hemlock
Tsuga canadensis is a stately tree to 75 feet tall with graceful green needles and small cones. Zones 4-8
'Gentsch White' Canadian hemlock
This variety of Tsuga canadensis is a shrub form that bears distinctly white-tipped new growth on a rounded tree that reaches 4 feet tall and wide. Zones 4-8