Siting Gold and Variegated Gold Conifers Part 3

Siting Gold and Variegated Gold Conifers Part 3

This is the final edition of our series on golden conifers! As promised at the end of our last blog post, we are featuring our favorite gold and yellow conifers for the main growing regions in the US. While we could certainly recommend 50+ varieties which are gold or yellow for part or most of the year, these are our favorites which have been tried and true and are sure to perform incredibly well for you. That said, make sure that the variety is hardy for you. For instance, there are areas in the Northeast which are a USDA Hardiness Zone 2 – some of our recommendations will not tolerate those cold extremes.

Also, we know a lot about conifers, but you are really the expert! If you have favorite golden conifers selections, please contribute some comments below.

Pacific Northwest:
-Picea abies ‘Gold Drift’
-Picea omorika ‘Peve Tijn’
-Picea orientalis ‘Tom Thumb Gold’
-Pinus parviflora ‘Goldilocks’
-Pinus parviflora ‘Ogon-janome’

Northeast:
-Abies nordmanniana ‘Golden Spreader’
-Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Melody’
-Pinus strobus ‘Louie’
-Sciadopitys verticillata ‘Yellow Dream’
-Taxus baccata ‘Standishii’

Midwest:
-Pinus sylvestris ‘Aurea’ (‘Nisbet’s Gold’, ‘Gold Medal’, and ‘Gold Coin’ are excellent as well)
-Picea mariana ‘Aureovariegata’
-Picea orientalis ‘Skylands’
-Picea pungens ‘Walnut Glen’ (Note: these are extremely difficult to propagate and grow in containers, but if you wait for a specimen to develop, they excel in the Midwest!)
-Picea pungens ‘Wisconsin Cream’

Southeast:
-Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Golden Sands’
-Picea orientalis ‘Early Gold’ (similar to ‘Aureospicata’)
-Pinus sylvestris ‘Gold Coin’
-Sciadopitys verticillata ‘Yellow Dream’
-Thuja occidentalis ‘Amber Glow’

Continuing with the final installment of our series, we are featuring a few golden conifers that need some sun to show their best color. As mentioned in the previous installment, many of these colorful conifers require some shade to prevent burning. Too much shade can cause their trademark color to dull, making them appear predominantly green.

Pinus parviflora 'Goldilocks'
Pinus parviflora ‘Goldilocks’

For instance, a popular pine we supply, Pinus parviflora ‘Goldilocks’ (‘Tenysu kazu’), is primarily green when grown in a significant amount of shade. Spring candles will still be a nice lemon color in the shade, but as the needles mature, the entire tree will appear light green. Considering that Goldilocks will minimally burn in full sun or containers – we strongly recommend growing it in the most sun you have available.

Picea orientalis 'Skylands'
Picea orientalis ‘Skylands’

Similarly, ‘Skylands’ oriental spruce has beautiful golden-yellow foliage that only shows its color when planted with some sun exposure. While it may burn in full sun for quite some time before it is mature, it does eventually outgrow the sunburn with time in our experience.

‘Colonial Gold’ is another spruce that is different from ‘Skylands’ in that the yellow color is primarily on the new growth in early spring. Direct sunlight helps give this tender foliage a bright creamy color but can cause a small degree of burning or defoliation that is barely noticeable by the end of the growing season. For this reason, it is best to plant this variety in a significant amount of sun so that is shows the best coloration.

Picea pungens 'Colonial Gold' & Abies arnoldiana (x) 'Poulsen'
Picea pungens ‘Colonial Gold’ & Abies arnoldiana (x) ‘Poulsen’

Many of our customers are searching for something colorful but narrow, and the perfect selection is Taxus baccata ‘Standishii’. We see no sunburn on this variety when grown in full sun in containers! However, when grown in indirect light or a fair amount of shade, the golden color changes to more of a lime-green. Its slender form, sun tolerance, and remarkable coloration give this tree a spot among our all-time favorites.

Taxus baccata 'Standishii'
Taxus baccata ‘Standishii’

These are just a few of the gold varieties we recommend for full sun planting. In deed we are obsessed with gold – it’s the light of the landscape. In addition to the incredible assortment, we already offer – we are adding so many tremendous gold selections which you should keep an eye out for in the future. These include Larix decidua ’Lucek’, Pinus contorta var. latifolia ‘Golden Stryker’, Pinus strobus ‘Rob’s Halo’, Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Filip’s Golden Tears’, Pinus mugo ‘Lemon’ and many more!

-Happy Planting!

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1 Comment

  • rudie

    December 18, 2014 at 11:29 AM

    Out here in the Northwest Picea abies ‘Gold Drift’ is a fantastic grower and a great addition to any garden!