The larch

Main features

Larch is the Italian name of the genus Larix, which includes about ten species widespread in the cold and mountainous regions of the temperate zones of the northern hemisphere. The larches are ornamental plants with an erect stem and cone-shaped crown and are proof of the fact that conifers are not always evergreen essences. These plants prefer drained and open, sandy or gravelly soils. They grow well both in maritime and rocky climates, but they do not tolerate an excessive supply of water or late frosts. In fact, a larch generally does not need irrigation, even if it needs a good level of humidity after being planted. In this case it is advisable to irrigate the plant regularly, wetting the soil abundantly, so that the plant develops its roots in depth. An adult larch can remain for weeks without water.

Tricks to follow

Larch is generally considered a pioneer essence, because it manages to settle even at considerable altitudes, where other conifers do not arrive. It therefore adapts quite easily to environmental rigors and owes to the fact that it is deciduous. The larch can be grown in any soil, even if it prefers gravel or sand; moreover it needs open positions precisely because it develops considerably in height. Optimal conditions also include exposure to half shade and away from smog. Larch can grow even in environments close to the sea and tolerates cold, dry winters and snowfalls very well. However it is good to keep in mind that the youngest specimens can be damaged by freezing winds out of season or by late frosts: consequently it is advisable to protect them adequately.

How to grow one in the garden

The most widespread species of larch in the world is the deciduous one: it is also called Larix europaea and the trees are characterized by reaching a height of up to 40 meters. This variety is very widespread as an ornamental plant due to its bearing: consequently it is not unusual to find it in gardens. Generally it takes root in any type of soil, even if it is not very fertile, as long as it is sunny and far from polluting sources. Larch fertilization occurs only when the plant is planted; this is usually done during the spring period. In this case you need mature manure to be planted at the foot of the specimen so that it reaches the roots. Fertilization can be repeated every year during spring to increase the level of nutrients in the soil. If it is already dissolved and fertile, fertilization is avoided.

The larch: Pests and diseases

Excessive irrigation or too uncomfortable environmental conditions can make the larch extremely sensitive to the attack of fungi and parasites. For example, if the humidity level is too high or if the climate is too hot, it is not uncommon for the plant to be affected by fungal diseases. These, however, are not limited to only one part of the tree, but propagate over the whole plant and subsequently strike also the neighboring specimens. At this point we need to uproot the infected tree because the fungi do not also attack the others. Other diseases that can affect the species are the infestations of larch lice (characteristic of dry and warm climates and similar in appearance to the aphids of the cedar) and aphids. In the high mountain areas there is a parasite that causes the loss of the leaves: this is the Zeiraphera diniana, but the larch generally tends to recover its foliage in a short time.