Fine Gardening magazine featured an extensive article on nine new variegated conifers in their January-February edition. The photographs are beautiful and detailed. The features of including them in your landscape are many: excellent focal point, year-round color and texture, plus generally a slower growth than other varieties in their species. The varieties are listed for USDA Zones 3-5b so there is a possibility we could see them in our market.
The article explains that variegated plants lack chlorophyll in some cells, resulting in white, cream, yellow or light green coloration that creates the multicolored effect on leaves or needles. These colorations in many plants can indicate a problem.
Variegated conifers are produced through grafting or root cuttings. Several variegations can occur throughout the growing season.
New growth in 'Golden Candles' white pine is lemon yellow, changing to medium green with lots of gold frosting on the end of new growth.
'Sunshine' mugo pine doesn't display its full variegation until late summer when gold-banded rings form on the needles.
White frosted tips on the branches of 'Albosppica' Eastern hemlock might be a cause of concern if you didn't know that is the normal growth and eventual coloration.
Perhaps the irregular growth and the generous amounts of random yellow variegation of the 'Gelbbunt' Korean fir might bring a client to Plant Clinic with questions. Again, it is normal growth.
We have all had the experience in Plant Clinic of a client bringing in a plant sample that they perceive to be having a problem, when in fact, it is showing its normal stage of development.
Most clients want instant answers and in many cases that isn't possible. We need to review our cheat-sheet of diagnostic questions to ask so we have enough information to give creditable answers.
Some growing tips were also listed to be aware of. The new growth may revert back to the original of the species or cultivar. The advice is to prune out these green branches ASAP so as not to lose the character, shape and color of the plant.
The manipulated loss of pigment in the conifer's needles can result in winter burn. Care needs to be taken as to planting site and wrapping new plants in fabric for the winter.
As tempting as the pictures are, I will use the article as a winter garden fix, but personally, I will stick with the tried and true landscape materials of the Central Oregon High Desert.
Check out the Gardening: Get Good At It "Central Oregon Climate" Tuesday February 4, 2020 on KPOV 88.9 FM between 9-9:30 am.