The Japanese umbrella fir belongs to the pine-like family and was found millions of years ago in what is now Europe. Therefore, in our time, this exotic tree could easily get used to the European climate. Thanks to its graceful and uniform growth, the Japanese umbrella fir is a beautiful eye-catcher in Europe’s parks and gardens. The needles of the evergreen, conical tree are shiny and wider than other pine needles. In a tuft-like arrangement they are grouped into small umbrellas. A Japanese umbrella fir can be wonderfully combined with rhododendrons. Because of its attractive straight growth, it is a special ornament on well-tended lawns.

location

Although the Japanese umbrella fir is considered to be easy to care for, it makes some demands on its location. It loves sunny to partially shaded places, but does not like direct sunlight in winter. In addition, young umbrella pines in particular hardly tolerate wind, which is why a sheltered location is appropriate for them. The exotic plant comes into its own when it is allowed to stand in a free space as a solitary plant in the garden. This can be in a small depression, for example, where the tree is a little sheltered from the wind. Its green needles shine particularly beautifully when it is planted on a brown mulch blanket.

The Japanese umbrella fir thrives particularly well on nutrient-rich, well-drained, sandy-humic soil that is well-moistened. Calcareous soils are not suitable for this plant. The umbrella fir does not survive long periods of drought. If the fir is planted in a sunny spot, care must be taken that the soil does not dry out. In this case, the Japanese umbrella fir should be watered frequently. In addition, high humidity is good for you. The best thing for this tree is a bog bed. Visually, an umbrella fir goes well with rhododendrons, azaleas and ferns.

plant

Japanese umbrella firs are usually available as potted plants or as bales. They can be planted all year round. The winter half of the year from October to April is the best time to plant bales. In their natural habitat, the umbrella fir grows 30 to 50 meters high. In our latitudes it rarely gets larger than 10 meters. With only around 10 cm growth per year, it only increases in height very slowly. When designing the garden, one should note that an umbrella fir looks more like a small ornamental bush before it develops into a proud, straight tree.

To plant a Japanese umbrella fir you will need:

  • Potting soil
  • a spade
  • water
  • a bucket

Use the spade to dig up the soil at the location you have chosen for the umbrella fir, so that it is nice and loose and permeable. Then dig a planting hole that is about twice as wide and deep as the root ball of your plant. In this way, the young Japanese umbrella fir can easily form new roots. Rhododendron soil, compost soil, peat soil or bog soil are suitable as potting soil. You fill the freshly dug planting hole up to about a third with your potting soil. Place the young Japanese umbrella fir in a bucket with water until the roots are completely soaked. All you need to do is take a potted plant out of the planter. In the case of bales, the root ball of the fir is surrounded by a net, a ball of cloth or a wire mesh.

You can tell when the time has come for the roots to be soaked with water by the fact that no more air bubbles rise. Now you can place the umbrella fir in the prepared planting hole and then fill it completely with the potting soil. With these preparations, the Japanese umbrella fir can grow well even on difficult soils. After the plant has been inserted and the planting hole has been filled with soil, the soil in the root area must be lightly pressed or stepped on. In the end, the young Japanese umbrella fir should stand in the ground so that the root ball is flush with the garden soil. Finally, the tree should be heavily watered again. In the next few weeks it is important to ensure that the soil around the Japanese umbrella fir never dries out completely.

Transplanting

The fact that the umbrella fir is a slowly growing shallow root means that it is not a problem to move it to a new location later. When transplanting, you should only be careful to dig up the fir tree with all of its root mass. Then it has to be inserted into a new planting hole, which is again twice as large as the existing root, so that it can grow again in its new place. Plants need moisture to take root. Therefore, the umbrella fir should not necessarily be replanted in hot summer, but rather in a cooler season. This makes it easier to keep the soil moist.

maintenance

Once the Japanese umbrella fir is planted and in the right place, it is relatively undemanding to care for. The hardy exotic plant can even tolerate frost. Since a Japanese umbrella fir grows very slowly, it is generally not necessary to prune it every year. Unless you want them to be particularly slim. Even if you want to keep the fir as a small ornamental fir that does not grow to its full size of around 10 meters, you can control its growth with regular pruning. You should pay attention to and maintain the natural cone shape of the fir tree.

Watering & fertilizing

The Japanese umbrella fir needs a lot of moisture. The root ball of this exotic plant must never dry out. In hot and rainy times, the Japanese umbrella fir should therefore be watered like a flower.

You can decide for yourself how often you fertilize your umbrella fir. If you think the plant is looking dull and might need some fertilization, a little pine fertilizer won’t hurt. Most of the time, the easy-care umbrella fir is satisfied with enough water. When caring for a Japanese umbrella fir, fertilizing does not usually play a major role. As a precaution, the area around the trunk can be supplied with fresh compost every few years. If you also want to use a fertilizer, then it is best to use a good long-term fertilizer for fir trees with a duration of six months.

The first fertilization can then take place in April. When you fertilize, it would be beneficial in the interests of healthy green needles if the fertilizer contained minerals and trace elements. This can be recognized, for example, by the fact that the label NPKMg + trace elements is on the bottle or package. N stands for nitrogen, P stands for phosphorus, K stands for potash and Mg stands for magnesium. The trace elements are usually boron, iron and zinc. The fertilizer will help give the soil the properties that fir trees like. In the year of planting, it is advisable to use organic natural fertilizers. In August, Epsom salts of 40 g per m² can be added to improve the frost resistance of the young plant.

Measures against brown & yellow needles

In some cases, the needles of Japanese umbrella firs turn brown and yellow. There are a variety of reasons for this. On the one hand, nutrient deficiencies can be the cause. Drought and excessive sun can also cause the needles to lose their lush green color. For example, Japanese umbrella pines that stand too long in the midday sun get “sunburn”, which leads to the needles drying out. Choosing the right location is just as important to avoiding brown and yellow needles as a nutrient-rich, slightly acidic and sandy soil with a low pH value of 4 to 5.

Discolored needles can also be a sign of nitrogen deficiency. In addition, the fir on sandy, dry soil often not only suffers from a lack of water, but also from a lack of potassium, which is caused by leaching. An umbrella fir tree with an unattractive appearance also acknowledges a lack of phosphorus. The discoloration of the needles can be countered by administering an NPK fertilizer, where N stands for nitrogen, P for phosphorus and K for potassium. So-called depot fertilizers, which gradually release the nutrients into the soil, are very suitable for combating yellow and brown needles. A single fertilization at the beginning of the growing season in spring is sufficient. If the discoloration of the needles occurs due to an unfavorable location with calcareous and loamy soil, then an exchange of the earth in the root area of ​​the Japanese umbrella fir helps. To do this, a hole has to be dug and filled with peat, bog, rhododendron soil or compost soil. Moving the tree to a new location can also help the brewing and yellow leaves.

Not only deficiencies, but also too much of a good thing can lead to brown and yellow needles in umbrella firs. For example, over-fertilization often results in discoloration of the needles inside the tree. The discolored needles are then thrown off and the fir tree burns. In this case, too, moving the tree and replacing the earth can be helpful. If the soil conditions are adequate, an affected umbrella fir can quickly become an attractive and healthy plant again.

wintering

Normally, you do not need to take any special precautions for wintering an umbrella fir. Although it is an exotic plant, the Japanese umbrella fir is very cold-resistant. An umbrella fir can withstand temperatures as low as -25. It adorns the garden with its evergreen splendor even in winter. Young Japanese umbrella firs are, however, sensitive to wind and can dry out due to direct exposure to the winter sun. If you water your umbrella fir from time to time even in winter, you can protect it from drying out. In addition, young umbrella firs are not yet as frost-resistant as older trees. Therefore, they can be mulched in winter to protect against the cold.

Diseases and pests

Like all conifers, the umbrella fir is hardly attacked by pests. But because the plant has to be watered frequently due to its high water requirements, fungus infestation may occur on the trunk. If you notice that the trunk of your Japanese umbrella fir is drying up poorly, you should start preventive treatment against fungal infestation in spring. If you treat the trunk with a fungus repellent, you can also spray it with an insect spray in order to be able to completely rule out a later infestation with insects.

Conclusion
The umbrella fir is an exotic plant, which is characterized by a particularly even growth in a graceful cone shape. The umbrella-shaped arrangement of the needles and the country of origin gave this evergreen conifer its name. It thrives in sunny to partially shaded locations and generally does not make high demands on care. The soil should, however, be good fir soil with a low pH value, otherwise the needles can turn yellow or brown. The hardy Japanese umbrella fir reaches a height of about 10 meters in our latitudes. Because it grows very slowly, it can be an attractive ornamental shrub in front gardens and park-like properties for many years.

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