Your Evergreen Guide to Evergreens

Evergreens include fir, hemlock, spruce, cedar, pine, yew, and juniper trees, among many other subspecies. Here are just a few reasons your customers want evergreens in their yards, especially during the colder months of the year in Ontario.

Birds, squirrels, and other wildlife make their homes in evergreens. It’s not unusual to see footprints in the snow under these trees. Grey squirrels build nests in evergreen treetops while birds shelter in them while migrating or to make their home.

Evergreen trees make excellent windbreaks and privacy screens in urban, suburban, or rural settings, and they may even block out sound when planted close together near a home or business. The bright or dark green boughs of evergreen trees break Ontario’s notion of stark winter landscapes. Some cultivars of Yew  produce bright red berries that add a festive touch just as the holidays roll around. 

Dutchmaster Nurseries has served Ontario clients for more than 50 years. To entice your clients to offer a wide evergreen selection in their roles as landscapers, contractors, and municipal administrators, we have put together information about some of the most popular evergreens in the region. Feel free to share this information with your customers to help them understand the value these trees bring to their properties and lives.

In this blog, we cover the following evergreens:

  • Balsam Fir 
  • Canadian Hemlock
  • White Spruce
  • White Pine
  • White Cedar

In the last section, “Watch for these Signs that Your Evergreen Tree in Ontario Needs Help,” we provide tips for evergreen tree care.

Balsam Fir

Some believe that resin makes an excellent cold remedy by  balsam fir (Abies balsamea). Others say it seals wounds, protecting them from infection. However, you may know this aromatic tree as your friendly neighbourhood Christmas tree. 

Balsam fir trees grow tall and narrow, reaching up to 25 metres with thick trunks measuring 70 centimetres. Its cones, shaped like barrels, grow upward from the branches. These evergreens have flat, shiny, dark green needles. Meanwhile, balsam fir bark feels smooth and waxy. In ideal conditions, the trees grow up to one foot every year and reach maturity in 15 to 30 years.

Balsam firs grow well in Southeastern Canada and the Northeastern United States, receiving abundant moisture and enjoying cooler temperatures.

What Are Balsam Fir Trees Used For?

Balsam firs are often used as Christmas trees due to the aromatic smell given off by the needles. You can also find pillows made of the fresh-smelling foliage. Additionally, the tree’s resin is used in turpentine, medicine, varnish, and glue.

What Are the White Stripes on Some Balsam Firs?

Balsam firs develop blisters filled with pitch that pops out on their smooth bark. Also, the needles do not group together like other evergreen species. Balsam fir needles have two white stripes on the bottom. Dutchmaster Nurseries offers a variety of trees in our evergreens product catalog, including balsam firs. Simply search for the type of evergreen you’re looking for or scroll through the catalogue for inspiration.

Canadian Hemlock

Unlike the hemlock that allegedly killed the great philosopher Socrates, Canadian Hemlock isn’t toxic. In fact, if you make a tea with it, you can boost your vitamin C intake!

Canadian hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is also known as eastern hemlock. It’s a member of the pine family that grows wild on rocky ridges, on woody slopes, and near rivers in Eastern Canada through Georgia and Alabama in the United States.

Canadian hemlocks grow up to 61 centimetres per year. Mature hemlocks grow up to 21 metres high and 7.6 metres wide. Also, they thrive in cooler climates like that found in Eastern Ontario and beyond. For best results, plant Canadian hemlocks in sandy soil or well-drained loam, as these trees like acidic soil. Further, the trees prefer colder weather and partial shade. They make great trees for larger yards and handle pruning extremely well, making them easy to train as privacy screens.

What Is Canadian Hemlock Used For?

Canadian hemlocks have coarse-grained, soft bark of a light yellowish-brown hue. The tree produces dense lumber that weighs 20 pounds per cubic foot, making it ideal for crates and construction projects. It also makes excellent railroad ties that hold spikes well. Untreated Canadian hemlock doesn’t last long and loses its value. It’s also used as wood pulp in paper manufacturing. 

Traditionally, Canadian hemlock bark served as a main ingredient in hide tannins. They are among the most common trees to inhabit North America.

White Spruce

Spruce trees hold mystical importance among native tribes in the US Southwest. They represented directional guardians of the north and symbolized the sky. The legend goes that the first spruce tree was a medicine man named Salavi who chose to become a tree. 

The white spruce that grows in Ontario and other regions of Canada is an excellent specimen of the species. These trees grow to 30 metres in height in ideal conditions and typically live between 250 and 350 years. However, some trees have been alive for 1,000 years!

Its short bluish-green needles are about 2 centimetres long and have a powdery, waxy surface. White spruce cones are 5 to 7 centimetres long and light brown in colour. The white spruce is found near the arctic tree line but it also grows well in southern Ontario.

What Are Some White Spruce Fast Facts?

Here are a few facts about these lovely spruce trees:

  • The trunks can reach up to 60 centimetres in diameter.
  • They are moisture tolerant. 
  • They grow in almost any type of soil
  • White spruce trees tolerate some      shade but will thin out over time as a result. 

NOTE: It’s important to warn customers to protect young white spruce from frost damage.

Browse through Dutchmaster Nurseries’ product catalogue to learn more about these trees, which make excellent Christmas trees.

White Pine

White pines are incredibly valuable to wildlife. Black bears, red squirrels, rabbits and birds prefer white pine seeds. Snowshoe hares, beavers, rabbits, mice, and porcupines eat its bark. Additionally, these trees provide homes for grackles, chickadees, nuthatches, and woodpeckers.

The Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) grows quickly and reaches 7.5 metres within 20 years. These stately trees reach towering heights of 45 metres at maturity. Witnessing a mature white pine can truly inspire awe. These beautiful trees form irregular pyramids and develop long green needles that can grow to 12 centimetres long. The green needles have a bluish tint and feel soft to the touch, motivating those passing by to reach out and caress the soft needles.

The eastern white pine likes cool, humid climates. In ideal conditions, they can live from 200 to 400 years. However, many are cut for lumber long before that. The North American lumber industry depended on harvesting these noble trees. 

Eastern white pines don’t handle air pollution or salt well. However, these Ontario evergreen trees grow happily among rhododendrons, dogwoods, and serviceberries. For best results, advise customers to plant them in soil with good drainage.

What Is White Pine Used For?

Due to their strength and towering stature, white pines make great ship masts and proved useful to the Atlantic shipbuilding trade for centuries.

White Cedar

White cedar trees (Thuja occidentalis) grow between 6 to 15 metres tall. This species has thin, shiny bark when young but the bark on older trees separates into narrow strips. White-tailed deer like to snack on white cedar twigs during the winter. This hardy tree grows slowly but lives for 200 years on average. It prefers swampy areas with a limestone base.

White cedar cones are 7 to 12 millimetres long and develop in clumps of 11 to 12. These evergreens grow in Ontario and have fan-shaped twigs with scaly, yellowish-green leaves.

White cedars do well in some shade but cannot tolerate road salt well. Landscape designers like to use white cedars as  anchors for landscaping on larger properties, but they also make great hedge trees when properly pruned and trained.

Where Are the Oldest White Cedars?

Ontario’s Niagara Escarpment is home to trees with more than 700 rings under their bark. White cedar grows in hardiness zones 2 through 7, which includes all but the northernmost areas of Ontario. View Dutchmaster Nurseries’ Plant Hardiness Zone by Area page to review hardiness zones throughout Canada.

Watch for these Signs that Your Evergreen Tree in Ontario Needs Help

Here are a few warning signs to watch to help ensure that your evergreen trees last a long time:

  • Ontario is subject to extreme cold weather that can threaten many species of evergreens. The first signs of distress typically start at the crown of the tree. Look for sun or wind damage, which can turn needles purple or brown. This typically happens as winter transitions into spring. It is important to  keep it well-watered all year. Over hydrated or dehydrated trees are more susceptible to wind damage.
  • There are a number of pests or tree diseases that may cause the needles of your evergreen trees in Ontario to turn brown. The most common threats are:
    • Pine weevils lay eggs in the spring. When the beetles hatch in the fall, they immediately begin feeding on tree stems.
    • If you find sawdust on the base and bark of the tree, this might be the work of bark beetles, which target old, weak trees.
    • Pine wilt disease can also attack the top of the tree. Small worms invade trees and can cause severe damage. Advise property owners to call an arborist as soon as they detect the symptoms, which include browning needles. Pruning away infected branches will help the tree recover.

Choose Your Ontario Evergreens at Dutchmaster Nurseries

Contractors, landscapers, and municipal managers rely on Dutchmaster Nurseries for knowledgeable advice regarding the selection, landscape design, and maintenance of Ontario evergreens. This guide provides important information that will help you recommend the best evergreens for your clients.

Dutchmaster Nurseries has courteous, well-trained representatives who can tell you more about the trees above that we currently have in stock. If you have questions on evergreens or other types of trees and shrubs, we can help you find the ideal inventory for your landscaping projects. Contact us online for assistance today.


Balsam fir:

Canadian Hemlock:

White Spruce:

White Pine:

PAA: how to care for white pine – Google Search

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