Evergreen Tips


Evergreen Trees & Shrubs  Such as Pine, Spruce, Fir, Yew, Hemlock, Arborvitae, Juniper, Boxwood, and Chamaecyparis.  These trees & shrubs are grown for their ability to retain their foliage (or needles) year round.  They make great screens and specimens in the landscape.  Proper identification of the branching structure of the evergreen is important before pruning.

Evergreens such as pine, spruce, and fir are known to have whorled branches.  New growth extends from buds that were formed the previous year on the tips of the twigs.  These evergreens should be pruned in early spring before new growth starts except for pines that should be pruned after new growth has come out in late spring or early summer.  New growth, known as a candle, should be reduced by half and should not be sheared or cut back into the woody stem of the tree.  When pruning, follow the general branching pattern to maintain its natural shape. 

Evergreens such as Arborvitae, Yew, Hemlock and Junipers are known as a random branching evergreen.  These Evergreens can be pruned heavily, even sheared to maintain a desired shape.  They produce new growth from hidden buds at the branch junction.  Pruning should take place in early spring with new growth covering the cuts. Occasionally an evergreen will lose its central leader.  Often times an evergreen will develop a replacement from a latent dormant bud or a upmost branch will take its place.  If no leader develops naturally you may have to tie one of the upmost branches up to become the new leader.  Shorten the surrounding side branches when doing this to promote this branch to take over.

Evergreen boxwood can be pruned almost any time throughout the growing season.  They can be selectively thinned to create a more natural open appearance by removing select branches with a hand pruner.  Most often boxwoods are sheared with an electric or gas powered hedge pruner this gives them a more uniform or formal shape. Ether form will work it’s just a matter of preference.  It is advisable not to prune in late fall or winter, by doing so it promotes new growth that cannot be hardened off in time before winter appears. Pruning in late Fall or Winter will create a plant that is vulnerable to winter damage. 

There are many forms of evergreen chamaecyparis; they range from Soft Serve, to Golden Mops to Lemon Tread.  Most chamaecyparis require little to no pruning.  If a light shaping or a heading cut are needed it is advisable to do this in early spring. 

It is advisable to fertilize evergreens in early spring before new growth starts and up until around July 15th.  Evergreens are not heavy feeders and don’t require as much fertilizer as deciduous trees or those that flower.  Evergreens are more of an acid loving plant and benefit from an acidic fertilizer, such as Espoma’s Holly Tone.  It is advisable that boxwood and arborvitae are not acid loving evergreens and Espoma Plant tone All Purpose plant food should be used instead.