Table of Contents
- 1. Pine
- 2. Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris)
- 3. Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta)
- 4. Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)
- 5. Corsican Pine (Pinus nigra ss. laricio)
- 6. Maritime Pine (Pinus pinaster)
- 7. Chinese White Pine (Pinus armandi)
- 8. Austrian Pine (Pinus nigra)
- 9. Japanese Red Pine (Pinus densiflora)
- 10. Monkey Puzzle Tree
- 11. Yew
- 12. Juniper
- 13. Cedar
- 14. Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica)
- 15. Lebanon Cedar (Cedrus libani)
- 16. Deodar Cedar (Cedrus deodara)
- 17. Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica)
- 18. Larch
- 19. Cypress
- 20. Lawson Cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana)
- 21. Leyland Cypress (Cupressus x leylandii)
- 22. Italian Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)
- 23. Monterey Cypress (Cuprressus macrocarpa)
- 24. Nootka Cypress (Cupressus nootkatensis)
- 25. Fir
- 26. Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
- 27. Fraser Fir (Abies fraseri)
- 28. Noble Fir (Abies procera)
- 29. Nordman Fir (Abies nordmanniana)
- 30. Hemlock
- 31. Spruce
- 32. Sitka Spruce
- 33. Norway Spruce
- 34. Serbian Spruce
- 35. Blue Spruce
Is your garden missing something? Perhaps it’s lacking a tall, evergreen addition.
Coniferous trees typically provide year-round foliage, have attractive shapes, textures, and colours, and can act as an invaluable privacy screen or windbreak in a garden. All in all, they’re a fabulous tree to have in your garden.
Many of us know the more common types of coniferous trees, like the Scots pine and Douglas fir. But there are many coniferous tree varieties that you can grow in the UK, not just the most-known few.
In this blog post, we’ll cover 35 of the best types of coniferous trees to grow in your garden. From majestic cedars to slender spruces and from vibrant larches to elegant junipers, we’ll explore a diverse selection, so that you can find a coniferous tree perfect for your garden!
When many of us think of coniferous trees, our minds go straight to the good ol’ pine. But do you know how to pick one out among other trees?
You can identify a pine tree by its little clusters of needles. Pine trees typically have bunches of 2-5 needles, but there can be as many as 7 or as few as 1, depending on the species. Typically, pine needles grow in a spiral shape.
Some of our favourite pines in the UK are:
2. Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris)
The most iconic coniferous tree in the UK, easily recognisable with its distinctive, rugged appearance and orange-brown bark. It’s native to the UK, and so is well adapted to our ever-changing weather, making it an excellent choice for a garden.
3. Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta)
This is a tall tree (around 30 metres) with a straight trunk and narrow crown. In gardens and landscapes, the lodgepole pine adds vertical interest, creating a natural focal point.
4. Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)
A fast-growing evergreen favouring well-drained soil and full sunlight. This plant’s cones rarely open in the UK. However, the cones open when exposed to high temperatures, such as a forest fire. This quality helps the tree regenerate in its native habitat, eastern North America.
5. Corsican Pine (Pinus nigra ss. laricio)
This tree’s hardiness makes it perfectly suited to the UK climate. It keeps its needles throughout the year, offering year-round interest, and grows up to an impressive height of around 30 – 40 metres. While the Corsican pine may not suit a small garden, it looks wonderful in a larger garden or park.
6. Maritime Pine (Pinus pinaster)
If you have a garden by the sea, this pine is for you. It has a natural affinity for coastal environments and thrives off of the salt spray and windy conditions coastal gardens bring. The maritime pine produces edible pine nuts, which are often used in Mediterranean cuisine, making this pine a little special.
7. Chinese White Pine (Pinus armandi)
The Chinese white pine is known and loved in the UK for its appearance, possessing beautiful elongated needles with silvery undersides. As it matures, this tree also develops white bark, making it a fantastic addition to any garden.
8. Austrian Pine (Pinus nigra)
Hardy and drought-tolerant, the Austrian Pine is the ideal choice for a drier patch of garden or if your garden struggles with nutrient-poor soil. This tree proves invaluable for wildlife, as its cones offer a food source for birds and small mammals.
9. Japanese Red Pine (Pinus densiflora)
This pine variety has stunning reddish-brown bark and distinctive bright green needles, creating a striking contrast that becomes a focal point in a garden. Interestingly, you can also grow the Japanese Red Pine as a bonsai, so there’s potential for a miniature pine tree with this one, as well as the full-sized version!
10. Monkey Puzzle Tree
The monkey puzzle tree (or “Araucaria araucana”) is another coniferous tree many of us will be familiar with, by sight if not by the name. It has distinctive, spiky leaves that make it difficult to miss.
Scientists believe this tree has existed since the Jurassic era, over 145 million years ago. This quality makes the monkey puzzle tree incredibly impressive as far as trees go. However, that’s not all. It also makes the monkey puzzle tree a top choice for those gardeners who don’t get to go out in their gardens much.
Why? Because it’ll still stand strong, even if you forget to water it.
English yew (Taxus baccata) is well-known for being one of the longest-lived species native to Europe. You’ll often see English yew in churchyards, historic gardens, hedging, parts, estates, and botanical gardens.
Interestingly, this is a coniferous tree with a twist. Unlike most conifers, you can find the English yew’s seeds within its berry-like arils, not its cones.
These bright red arils are one of the main reasons gardeners choose English yew in their gardens, not only for their beauty but also their attractiveness to birds (song thrushes, mistle thrushes, and blackbirds especially) who feast on them.
Juniper is a much loved coniferous tree in the UK, among both gardeners and gin-drinkers! The juniper tree is pollinated by wind and then, shortly after, produces bluish-black berries.
However, despite popular belief, these aren’t actually “berries.” Instead, they’re modified cones. Nevertheless, birds adore these and flock to them in their many.
Juniper trees grow to around 10 metres tall, which may suit a medium or large-sized garden. However, if your garden is on the smaller side, consider the Juniperus communis ssp. Nana. This dwarf juniper doesn’t exceed half a metre in height!
Not sure what a cedar tree looks like? Simply look at its foliage and cones. Cedar trees typically have needle-like leaves that grow in clusters or whorls. Their cones are relatively small and woody compared to the cones of other conifers.
And if you’re still not sure, get up close and personal with it – cedar trees have a distinctive aroma from their resin. When you touch or brush against their foliage, they release their characteristic scent.
The most common cedar trees in the UK are:
14. Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica)
Known for its silvery-blue, needle-like foliage and spreading branches.
15. Lebanon Cedar (Cedrus libani)
Dark green, needle-shaped leaves arranged in tufts. The Lebanon cedar has a distinctive pyramidal shape due to its horizontal branch formation.
16. Deodar Cedar (Cedrus deodara)
Hailing from the Himalayas, this tree typically grows up to 70 metres in its native region. However, it often only grows to 30 metres in the UK. The Deodar cedar is known for its drooping branches and blueish-green needles.
17. Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica)
Also known as “Sugi,” the Japanese cedar shows off feathery, dark green foliage and a conical shape. It’s not a UK native, but we love it over here as it adds an exotic touch to our British gardens.
When it comes to larch trees, we’re in wildlife territory. Wildlife simply loves European larch trees – the black grouse is first on the tree, eating the buds and immature cones before any other animal can get to them. Then, once the seeds come out, red squirrels, siskins and redpoles shortly follow.
And if that weren’t enough, the caterpillars (mainly the case-bearer moth and larch pug caterpillars) can’t help but feast on the European larch’s foliage!
So, if you want a tree that’s a hit among the wildlife, larch is the one for you. But beware – while larch may be well-loved by nature, it’s also susceptible to pests, making it difficult to look after in some cases. Larch can often suffer from the fungal disease larch canker as well as bark beetle and butt rot fungus.
Cypress trees have a certain elegance which adds sophistication to any garden, hence its popularity in the UK. But this isn’t the only quality that makes cypress trees so popular – they’re also highly versatile.
The many species sporting differing sizes and shapes allow all gardeners to find a cypress to suit their space, whether as a majestic specimen tree or a functional hedging variety.
Let’s take a look at the best options for UK gardens:
20. Lawson Cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana)
A tall, ornamental tree ideal as a focal point in the garden or for hedges and privacy screens.
21. Leyland Cypress (Cupressus x leylandii)
One of the fastest-growing conifers with extremely dense foliage. These qualities make the Leyland cypress perfect for separating your garden from your neighbours’.
22. Italian Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)
Also known as the Mediterranean cypress, this plant is typically grown for its tall, slender shape. It looks particularly beautiful in small gardens because of its compact height and formal style.
23. Monterey Cypress (Cuprressus macrocarpa)
Suits the UK weather conditions perfectly due to the similarity in conditions with its native region, the central coast of California. It sports a bright green colour and has thick, dense foliage.
24. Nootka Cypress (Cupressus nootkatensis)
A medium-sized conifer known for its distinctive weeping branches and pyramidal shape. The nootka cypress is an ideal specimen tree.
READ NEXT: 44 Fastest-Growing Hedge Plants in the UK
Many of us will be familiar with fir trees. Why? Because we decorate one each year. Have you guessed it? Christmas, of course! Fir trees are a popular choice for Christmas trees because of their symmetrical shapes, incredible needle retention, and soft texture.
One of my favourite parts of Christmas is walking into my home when I have the Christmas tree up. Smelling that gorgeous fresh pine smell instantly soothes my soul!
Here are some of the most common fir tree varieties to plant in a UK garden:
26. Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
Unlike the others on this list, the Douglas fir is not commonly used as a Christmas tree – the needles are quite sharp, which can irritate the skin, and the branches are typically sparser, making it less suitable for Christmas decorations. However, these trees are perfect for outdoor use because they’re highly adaptable, strong and durable and grow to impressive heights of up to 70 metres!
27. Fraser Fir (Abies fraseri)
The Fraser fir isn’t just for Christmas! It also supports wildlife in numerous ways. In a fir forest, the Fraser fir provides shelter, habitat and food for birds and small mammals.
28. Noble Fir (Abies procera)
A graceful UK native tree that has a symmetrical appearance and long lifespan. It also releases a pleasant smell when touched, so this one’s a must if you love to incorporate sensory experiences in your garden.
29. Nordman Fir (Abies nordmanniana)
This fir tree owes its compact and dense shape to its slow growth. The Nordman fir is an immensely popular Christmas tree choice across the UK. But here’s a fun fact: after its festive use, you can plant your Nordman fir in your garden to continue growing!
READ NEXT: How to Plant a Christmas Tree in the Garden
Western hemlock is a coniferous tree that typically grows to a lofty height, around 45 metres. As it grows tall, it also fills out, producing many branches and leaves, which can make it difficult for anything growing underneath to survive.
Needless to say, I don’t recommend planting Western hemlock in your garden if you only have a small space to work with!
This tree is typically grown in the UK for its timber and to create wood pulp. However, you’ll also often see it as an ornamental addition in your local park or a large garden.
Spruce is a genus of around 35 different species of evergreen coniferous trees. Therefore, it’s safe to say that you can definitely find a spruce tree to suit your garden.
Here are the main varieties of spruce for UK gardens:
32. Sitka Spruce
This tree is planted in around half of the UK’s commercial plantations, although it’s not a UK native. This plant’s most commendable qualities are its speedy growth and unique cones – sporting a reddish colour and toothed and crinkled edges.
33. Norway Spruce
A highly popular Christmas tree choice. It has a well-formed, pyramidal shape and dense foliage, making it ideal for a Christmas tree. Because who really wants a patchy Christmas tree?
34. Serbian Spruce
A frost-tolerant spruce tree, allowing it to not just survive but thrive in the UK’s cold winters. It also boasts a two-tone appearance, with blue-green needles with a silver-white underside.
35. Blue Spruce
With its powdery blue needles, this tree makes an excellent specimen tree or windbreak. One use many wouldn’t ordinarily consider of the blue spruce is its decorative use at Christmas.
Last year, when attending a wreath-making class, I was pleased to see the florist had blue spruce collected from her garden! Combined with eucalyptus, holly, Nordman fir and hazel catkins, this made a beautiful wreath that lasted for months! Why not try it yourself this year?
What is meant by coniferous trees?
Coniferous trees are a group of trees that have needle-like or scale-like leaves and produce cones rather than flowers. They’re typically evergreen, keeping their foliage year-round, and are mostly found in forests. Conifer trees are valued for timber and paper production.
What is the most common coniferous tree?
The most common coniferous tree in the UK is the Sitka spruce. Sitka spruce takes up around 700 thousand hectares of land in Britain. The second most common coniferous tree is the Scots pine, taking up just over 200 thousand hectares of British land.
What are the conifer trees in the UK?
The three most common types of conifer trees native to the UK are Scots pine, Juniper, and Yew. However, all 35 of the trees on this list are commonly grown in the UK.
What are the 5 deciduous conifers?
Most coniferous trees are evergreen, keeping their leaves throughout the year. However, Larix, Taxodium, Glyptostrobus, Pseudolarix, and Metasequoia are all deciduous conifers. These trees shed their leaves annually.
What are the tall thin conifers called?
The tall thin conifers are called “fastigiate” conifers. This simply describes their growth habit – their branches are closely packed together and grow vertically, creating the characteristic tall thin shape.
Popular Fastigiate conifer cultivars include Fastigiate Yew, Fastigiate Italian Cypress, Fastigiate Junipers, and Fastigiate Spruces.
Do conifers lose their leaves?
The vast majority of conifers are evergreen, so they don’t lose their leaves. However, there are five deciduous genera, Larix, Taxodium, Glyptostrobus, Pseudolarix, and Metasequoia.
If you enjoyed learning about the types of coniferous trees and want other ideas for hedging or screens, you’ll love our blog post, 41 Best Garden Screening Ideas UK!