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 is 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.
|Common Name||Golden Larch|
|Botanical Name||Pseudolarix amabilis|
|Mature Size||30-60 ft. tall, 20-40 ft. wide|
|Soil Type||Moist, loamy|
|Hardiness Zone||4-7 (USDA)|
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.
The Golden Larch prefers full sun and will tolerate some light shade. This tree won't manage in a full shade position.
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.
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.
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.
Types of Larch Trees
- European Larch: Largest species of larch trees, stunning colors in fall, grows 80-100 feet tall.
- Tamarack Larch: native to the US, grows as high as 75 feet tall.
- Pendula Larch: bushy larch, spreads up to 30 feet, stake upright otherwise becomes ground cover.
- Japanese Larch: native to Japan, green needles turn yellow in fall before falling, grows up to 70 feet tall.
Very little pruning, if any at all, is needed on the Golden Larch tree. Prune any low hanging branches drooping down and in the way of cars or pedestrians.
Propagating Golden Larch Tree
While the larch tree can be propagated by seed, it is easier to take a cutting from the tree itself, since the cones and seeds are not widely produced. Take the cutting during the summer for the best result. Here's how:
- With a sharp knife or pruning shear, cut a branch approximately six to eight inches long, making sure the branch has three to four growth nodes on it. The cut on the branch should be a straight cut before the final node.
- Wrap damp paper towels around the cutting and place in a plastic bag.
- Prepare a pot with drainage holes with equal parts peat and perlite.
- After removing the cutting from the plastic bag, unwrap the paper towels and clean the cut end off in rubbing alcohol. Let dry. Then dip in rooting powder.
- Remove the foliage from the bottom portion and push the cutting into the soil, up past two nodes. Then water.
- It should establish some roots in about two weeks, keep in the pot to let it further acclimate and grow, or plant directly into the desired location.
Larch trees are susceptible to a fungus known as larch canker. The tree gets infected with this serious disease and will have swollen bark lesions that have drops of resin. Any branches that are affected need to be pruned off and burned.
How fast does a larch tree grow?
Some varieties in this tree species can grow as much as three feet a year if in desirable growing conditions.
How long can a larch tree live?
Some of the species of larch trees have been known to live for up to 250 years
Can the Golden Larch tree be made into a bonsai tree?
The Larch tree is a very popular species to use as a bonsai.