The Wonderfully Wild World of Conifers

Colesville offers quite a vast range of Conifers. From obscure species cultivated on the Western Coast of the U.S. to local Virginian Natives we grow up the road on our very own Farm, we offer something for everyone.

The more local & native a Conifer is, the more quickly it will establish, the easier it is to maintain and the more predictable its growth will be. Many varieties born & bred on the West Coast, while very attractive, take a lot of care, attention and education to the specific variety to keep it happy.

Conifers that are not native to Virginia are also unpredictable in growth habit & mature size. While we can allude to what you may expect when planting them, they can often grow at a much slower pace or adapt to the area by growing taller & skinnier than expected or shorter & wider.

You may notice on our inventory that with some of our odd Conifers we list a "10 year" or "20 year" predicted size. This means after you plant it, in 10 or 20 years we expect it to be the suggested size, it does not mean that those plants completely mature at that size.

Another important note about Conifers, would be that their Common Names can be quite misleading. "Cedar, Cypress, & Spruce" are 3 of the most over-used and least helpful common names when it comes to identifying or purchasing a desired Conifer.

For example "Cypress" can refer to Chamaecyparis, Cupressus, xCupressocyparis, Cryptomeria, types of Juniperus, Taxodium. All four of these plants are very different in their appearance, desired environments, growth habits/mature sizing and maintanence requirements.

Below is a list of plants we reccomend & carry year-round for Privacy, Special Conifer Collections, Small Spaces or Shady Environments.


  • Cedrus - Many different types of Cedrus will work in Virginia. What we reccomend for privacy would be the fast growing, easily established Cedrus 'Deodara' or Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca.' The difference between the two is the color, with the 'Deodara' providing dark green needles and the 'Glauca' providing blue foliage all year.
  • Chamaecyparis 'Lawsoniana' - is a large maturing Chamaecyparis with a compact shape, great for anyone requiring a narrow base but 40'-60' in height.
  • Cryptomeria japonica 'Radicans' or jap. 'Yoshino' - are large maturing, dark green conifers, often used instead of Thuja (Arborvitae) to provide a darker color and different texture to the garden. (For more misleading & over-used "common names" see our article about "Japonicas") While these require full sun they can handle part-shade. They are slightly slower growers in comparison to Thuja & Leyland xCupressocyparis
  • xCupressocyparis 'Leylandii' - known for its rapid upward growth and tolerance for diverse environments, Leyland's are one of the most common choices for privacy. BE CAREFUL, because it is fast growing that means that the wood is much weaker than some its slower growing competitors, making it more susceptible to bores, bagworms, and many other Conifer pests & diseases.
  • Cupressus arizonica - known for growing in small scattered areas throughout the South of the US & Mexico, this full sun, heat loving conifer provides a smaller width & height for anyone looking for privacy but lacking space. Blue in color and predominantly compact in shape, this is a tidy & different choice for privacy.
  • Juniperus: 'Blue Point' , 'Hetzi Columnaris' , 'Iowa' , 'Spartan' , 'Hollywood' , 'Moonglow' , 'Skyrocket' , 'Witchita Blue' , 'Brodie' , 'Burkii' , 'VA Red Cedar' , 'Emerald Sentinel' , 'Glauca' , 'Taylor' - These are all large growing varieties of Juniper that we carry, varrying in color and in width all of these would work for easy hardy privacy  
  • Metasequoia glyptostroboides - (also known as: Dawn Redwood) growing large and quickly, this deciduous conifer has quite a history to it. Coming from near extinction, in 1941 a Chinese botanist discovered the rare tree and helped raise awareness to it that brought it back into the landscape! A great choice for anyone searching for intersting bark or a conversation piece.
  • Pinus 'Loblolly' - while this American Native is not for privacy at the ground level, for those living near buildings or tall homes with narrow base-spacing, we reccomend this very tall quick growing tree that will drop wonderful needles that can be repurposed as pine needle mulch which is highly acidic and a great natural way to secure your plants
  • Thuja - "Green Giant" or "Emerald Green" are two very popular privacy selections for many reasons. Known for their hardiness and easy green color, Thuja has been a favorite from commercial to residential areas for a long time. While these trees can achieve great heights & widths they are also easily planted fairly close together, making them great for anyone looking for instant satisfaction!

Special Conifer Collections

  • Cedrus 'Prostrate Beauty' - A blue needle, very small maturing conifer, great for a collector or someone designing a small area
  • Cedrus atlantica Glauca 'Horstmann' - with clumping blue needles and wily growth habit, this is a must have for any collection
  • Cedrus atlantica Glauca 'Pendula' - offered both in a simple weeping habit or trained into a serpentine shape, this blue beauty is a great addition for anyone looking for something different
  • Chamaecyparis - While reading this portion of this Blog Entry, you will note that this Genus is mentioned several times. With very diverse color, growth habits, desired environments and maintanence needs, this Genus can be considered for a number of different landscape needs or requirements. Often considered a slow growing conifer, these specialty plants can be used to fit a number of different spaces or grow in a planter!
  • Metasequoia glyptostroboides - as you may have read in the Privacy section, this is quite a conversation piece for any landscape with some serious space. With an arrowhead shaped canopy, interesting bark and being one of the few deciduous conifers in existence, Dawn Redwoods have been quite recently resurrected from near-extinction. Discovered by a Chinese botanist in 1941, this tree was brought back into the landscaping world through diligent seed collecting & propagation programs.
  • Microbiota decussata - any variety will make for an interesting addtion for a Conifer lover. Bright green needles throughout the year that turn plum purple in the wintery weather, this low growing conifer is quite a visual surprise. While it is low growing it is known to spread indefinitely, with some plants observed at 12" in height but 15' in diameter!
  • Picea - almost any variety of Picea (aka: true Spruce) will catch your eye. Colors varying from bright yellow to deep blues, Colesville carries 26 different varieties varying in height & width.
  • Pinus - Colesville carries 17 different Pines, some of the more interesting & diverse are: Bungeana (lacebark), Cembra (swiss), Contorta (twisted), thungergii (japanese black), wallichinana (himalayan), leucodermis (bosnian), Sylvestris (siberian), Nigra (austrian black). They all have different colored foliage, growth habits, mature size and they all bring something extra special to the landscape.
  • Taxodium - ("Bald Cypress") another deciduous conifer available here at Colesville that comes in both an upright & a weeping form, these are also one of the few conifers that will withstand muddy, wet areas!
  • Taxus - (Yew) is a broadleaf conifer that comes in a large variety of growth habits, all of which can get quite large! With dark colored foliage and resiliance to common conifer pests & diseases, this shrub is an intriguing and hardy addition to any confier collection.
  • Thuja - "Jantar Amber Gold," "Mr. Bowling Ball," "Rheingold," "Whipcord" or "Franky Boy" are quite diverse choices for anyone looking for something special in the conifer world. From bright gold feathery foliage to wild tubular strings of dark green, known for being resiliant in Virginia, Thuja can be a simple specialty choice.

Small Spaces

  • Cedrus 'Prostrate Beauty' - A blue needle, very small maturing conifer, great for a collector or someone designing a small area
  • Chamaecyparis - Slow growing and often small maturing, many Species within this Genus of conifers will fill a small space and offer a contrast to broadleaf or perennial plantings often chosen for their smaller sizes.
  • Cryptomeria japonica 'Globosa Nana' - Very different in appearance & mature size from its before-mentioned brethern (Yoshino & Radicans) this small maturing bright green conifer offers a change of pace for any garden, often used here in VA for its establishment ease
  • Juniperus: 'Trautman' , 'communis Hibernica' , 'Skyrocket' - very small widths with heights varying from 6 - 20,' these varieties resemble "Italian Cypress" but will actually survive in our VA humidity! Great for any landscape requiring height without space at the base or a Mediterranean vibe.
  • Juniperus - 'Old Gold' , 'Gold Lace' , 'Shimpaku & Shimpaku Fishtail' , 'Blue Pacific' , 'Blue Rug' , 'Blue Star' , 'Limeglow' , 'Procumbens Nana' - All of these varieties are low & slow growing Juniperus that fill in either small spaces or areas where an evergreen without any serious height is needed.
  • Pinus - 'Mugo' is a creeping & mounding pine and very slow growing here in VA, it will add an interesting texture and piney aroma to a small bed or container
  • Thuja - "Hetz Midget," "Pancake," "Yellow Ribbon" will all mature to a smaller size and fill out a tiny area without concern of over-crowding.

Shady Environments   

  • Cephalotaxus - Also known as "False Yew," this shade loving conifer comes in a variety of heights, widths and growth habits. With large flat glossy green needles we find this to be a wonderful contrasting plant for any shady area.
  • Chamaecyparis - Not all varieties but the 'obtusa' Species within the Chamaecyparis Genus will thrive in a shady environment; with many having golden tipped foliage, this can also be a bright spot of color in a darker space.
  • Cryptomeria - Typically these varieties will perform better in full sun they will handle part-shade
  • xCupressocyparis - Known to grow very quickly in full sun these conifers can handle full to part-shade and can be expected to still reach maximum maturity but will do so in a longer period of time than if planted in full sun.
  • Juniperus - 'VA Red Cedar' is the probably the best choice for a heavily shaded environment but any of our VA native varieties will grow in full to part-shaded environments if necessary
  • Picea 'Albospicata' - a white tipped Spruce desiring part to full shade, this bright slow growing ever green works well as an understory conifer
  • Taxodium - ("Bald Cypress") will take plenty of shade and will also take plenty of water. Do you have poor drainage? Have an area that stays wet? Have a location on the water where everything drowns? Plant a Taxodium and your problems will be solved!