- Position: Sun/partial shade
- Soil: Humus rich, moist and well drained.
- Height/Spread (in approx. 10 years time): 20cm (8 in)
Picea abies 'Little Gem' 3L
This variety has to be in the top ten of dwarf conifers - very dense and slow growing it forms a green bun of foliage - ideal for a trough or small rock garden. RHS AGM
Conifers generally prefer a slightly acidic soil (although this is rarely essential) and therefore we recommend Ericaceous compost when planting your conifers. Dig a hole to about a spades depth and mix the compost well in - if it is the start of the season add a balanced feed such as Fish Blood and Bone or a one of the feeds for acid loving plants such as rhododendrons and azaleas and mix that in too. Remove the conifer from the pot (having ensured that it is wet all the way through the root ball) and plant it so the top of the root ball is at exactly the same depth as it was in the pot, backfill with the compost/soil mix and firm well so the plant is stable. Water well.
Feed in early spring with a balanced feed; Fish, Blood and Bone; Ericaceous feed; Vitax Q4 or slow release granules. Ensure that the feed does not come in to direct contact with the leaves or stems of the plant - wash off if this should occur and water in well if the soil is dry and there is no rain on the way. Conifers have, in the majority of cases, evolved to cope on poorer soils so this initial feed at the beginning of the season is usually enough to sustain them for the entire growing period. This is perhaps a good point to mention the symbiotic fungi that many conifers have e.g. pines and spruces which appear as a white mesh through the root system. These help the conifer extract nutrition from the soil and are the sign of a healthy plant - this means you should not use fungicides round or on conifers.
Your conifer will need watering regularly until it is established or if we have a prolonged dry spell. For the first few months the root ball will have made little progress into the surrounding soil and so it is particularly important to keep the original root zone moist for the first season or when dry in subsequent years. Some conifers are more drought resistant than others e.g. Juniperus and Taxus, and once established will take dry spells in their stride, others such as Metasequioa like to be damp at all times - the majority of conifers like to be moist but never soggy.
The secret of watering is to soak thoroughly and then leave to dry out slightly until the next one - a constantly soggy root system will lead to root rots and eventual death of the plant. Watering little and often will encourage roots to move to the surface where they are more prone to drying out, a constantly wet root system or a dry centre to the root ball.
Most conifers can be pruned and the secret is little and often - the obvious exception is Araucaria which dies back from pruning cuts. If you prune regularly you will achieve a number of things, first you will not cut into old wood which for most conifers (notable exception is Taxus) means bare brown patches that will not re-shoot. Most conifers will not re grow when pruned in to old wood. You will also be able to shape the tree gradually retaining its natural beauty and guiding it to grow in the way that you want. The final thing you will achieve is the ability to control the speed at which the tree grows - pruning from a young age in a restrained way will allow you to keep a slow growing or dwarf variety (or some of the taller growing ones) small for longer.
Please note, all plants listed are stocked by Bents at various periods throughout the year, however, due to seasonality and variations in weather and growing conditions some lines may be unavailable. We advise contacting the store prior to your visit to check on availability.