How to Grow Golden Larch Trees

Close up of Pseudolarix amabilis needles

 Jon Benedictus/Getty Images

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The Golden Larch (Pseudolarix amabilis) is a deciduous conifer that, as the name suggests, offers up wonderful fall colors.

When you observe the Golden Larch during the spring and summer you will wonder where the common name “Golden” comes from. In the spring, the color of the delicate almost feather like, whorled needles are reminiscent of fresh out of the garden green peas. It's not till fall when suddenly those soft needles pop with a burst of unbelievable color that screams of the season. 

A golden color emerges that most would never expect to see on a conifer. Around this very same time, if you look closely at the tree, you will see small artichoke shaped cones.  

One thing of note about the cones is that they are prized by crafters due to their unique shape and texture when open. They are delicate but will hold up better if treated with a glue or fixative of some sort. Shortly after this display is presented, the deciduous Golden Larch sheds the cones and its needles in what seems like an overnight process, and you are left with a framework of branches set on a trunk covered in grayish scaled bark.

When the famed botanist Robert Fortune saw the Golden Larch in its native Eastern China, he knew he needed to introduce it into cultivation. And it has been popular ever since 1854 when it was brought west.

Being the only tree in its genus, it is unique. It is relatively slow-growing and, in the wild, can reach up to 120 feet tall and sometimes just as wide. Outside of its native range, the largest trees grow to maturity at 60 feet and will reach a spread of 40 feet in a conical form. Yes, this tree is truly lovely and deserves a place in your landscape.

Botanical Name  Pseudolarix amabilis
Common Name  Golden Larch 
Plant Type Tree 
Mature Size 30 to 60 ft. tall 20 to 40 feet wide
Sun Exposure Full Sun
Soil Type Moist, organically rich loams
Soil pH Acidic
Bloom Time Non-Flowering
Flower Color Non-Flowering
Hardiness Zone 4-7
Native Range Eastern- China
Toxicity Non-toxic

Golden Larch Care

Before planting a Golden Larch it's important to consider if you have enough space and any future changes in infrastructure or buildings in your garden. This tree will take up a lot of space and doesn't like to be crowded.

Given that these trees do well in acidic soils, it would also be sensible to perform a soil test before proceeding with planting a Golden Larch.

Finding a tree to plant might take some research and you most likely will have to special order it.

When you are ready to plant your Golden Larch, the same rules apply as with most other trees. Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball is deep and as deep as the root ball or container. Always plant the tree shallow rather than deep. Refill the hole with a fifty percent mix of the removed soil and fifty percent compost and cover the surface to a depth of two inches to the dripline with organic mulch, without touching the trunk. 

During the first year while your Golden Larch is establishing itself, water it thoroughly.  

Light

The Golden Larch prefers full sun and will tolerate some light shade. This tree won't manage in a full shade position.

Soil

The best soil for the Golden larch is loamy, moist, acidic, and well-drained. It does not do well in areas where limestone is present.  

Water

The water needs for the Golden larch are moderate. It can rely on rainwater and does not need irrigation after it has established itself. 

Temperature and Humidity

In hot and humid weather your Golden Larch may struggle some, particularly when compared with other trees in the Larch genus. 

The ideal USDA hardiness zones for the Golden Larch are 4-7.

Fertilizer

Other than testing for acid deficiencies, your Golden Larch should not need any extra fertilizer. When it drops its needles, it is recommended that you leave them under the tree as this will act as a natural fertilizer. 

Is Golden Larch Toxic?

The Golden Larch is not known to be toxic to humans or pets.