If you love evergreen trees but also appreciate colorful fall foliage, consider the larch. This tree looks like a pine or spruce in spring and summer with its tall form, short green needles, and small cones. But in autumn, larch’s soft, feathery needles turn bright golden yellow then fall off to reveal its architectural branching pattern. These coniferous trees, which vary in size by species and cultivar, thrive in areas with cool summers and cold winters. They prefer moist or boggy soil.
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Large Landscape Planter
Most larches are massive, fast-growing trees, so consider the mature size of a species before adding it to a residential landscape. If you have the space, this tree is particularly striking when planted in groups of three. Closely planted specimens eventually grow together, which makes their fall needle drop quite dramatic. If your climate is not hospitable to larch, try one of these deciduous conifers: dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboises) or bald cypress (Taxodium distichum).
Larch Tree Care
Most larch trees are tall (50 to 80 feet tall) with widespread canopies. This makes them more suitable for open landscapes, such as parks, which provide room to grow. Don't fret if you need to work within a residential landscape, because there are many different cultivated forms. Although some are tall, narrow, and fast-growing, dwarf forms are available. And some forms sport contorted branches or weep to the ground, creating a groundcover if not trained to form a trunk.
Whichever species you choose, growing a larch is easy as long as you don't live in a warm climate with hot summers. Plant the specimen in a spot where it will get at least six hours of sun a day. Water the tree often enough to keep the soil moist. Add a layer of organic mulch to help retain soil moisture.
Larix decidua is a stately tree that grows to 100 feet tall and 30 feet wide. It puts on an amazing autumn show when the needles turn bright gold. Zones 2-6
This variety is a large tree native to North America. It features bright green needles that turn gold in autumn. It grows 75 feet tall and 30 feet wide. Zones 2-6
'Varied Directions' larch
Larix decidua 'Varied Directions' is a unique selection that develops into a spreading shrub or small tree. The branches grow in irregular patterns giving the plant a distinctive shape. It grows 15 feet tall and wide. Zones 2-6
The weeping larch is an unusual variety. Because its branches all hang down, it will only grow as tall as you support it. If not staked, it becomes a groundcover. It can eventually spread some 30 feet. Zones 2-6