Fall Planting and Hemlock Information

Fall planting time is upon us once again! The weather is cooler, soil is staying moist longer, and it’s a great time to get new plants established before winter. Perennials, shrubs, and trees planted in the fall have an advantage because they are able to start growing as soon as they wake up in the spring

So, what should I plant? Anything! Perennials, shrubs, and trees are all just fine for fall planting, and one of the most beautiful trees we have here in the northeast is the Canadian Hemlock. Its native range is from southern Canada all the way south into Pennsylvania and mid-Atlantic states, and west to Minnesota. It is one of the most shade-tolerant evergreens, and it takes well to shearing/hedging, so is great for screening and makes a beautiful specimen plant. Deer generally leave them alone, so if arborvitae isn’t a good choice, consider Hemlock!

There is one concern, and that is a tiny insect that is working its way north from Pennsylvania and Connecticut, called the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid (Adelges tsugae). It is an extremely destructive pest that can decimate wild stands of hemlock. Birds and wind aid in the spread of the Adelgid, as well as infested nursery stock purchased by unaware consumers. One positive side to our Maine winters is that large percentages of the Adelgid population are killed when temperatures reach -17 F. This has happened at least once in the last several winters! So, what’s the bottom line, then?

First and Foremost, do not be afraid to plant hemlocks! It is much, much easier to monitor and control pests in the home landscape than in the wild forests. By planting new hemlock trees from a certified clean nursery or garden center, you can help counter the effect that the Adelgid is having on our forests, and provide important forage and shelter for all kinds of wildlife. At the moment, the insect is mainly on the coast and extreme southern areas of the state. May of the towns listed in the quarantine area are “buffer towns”, creating zone between infested areas and the forest we are attempting to keep clear.

Area Under Quarantine

Androscoggin County: the towns of Auburn, Durham, Lewiston, Lisbon & Sabattus, Cumberland County: the towns of Brunswick, Cape Elizabeth, Chebeague Island, Cumberland, Falmouth, Freeport, Frye Island, Gray, Gorham, Harpswell, Long Island, New Gloucester, North Yarmouth, Portland, Pownal, Raymond, Scarborough, South Portland, Standish, Westbrook, Windham, and Yarmouth, Kennebec County: the towns of Litchfield and Pittston, Lincoln County (all), Sagadahoc County (all), York County (all)

What this means for you, the customer:

  • If you live in one of the above mentioned towns or counties, you can purchase and move hemlock trees from our Windham location. We are within the quarantine area.
  • If you live in a town or county that is not mentioned above, you are outside the quarantine area, and can not move hemlock from within the quarantine. We have a location in Casco where hemlock may be selected and picked up. Call us at Roosevelt Trail Garden Center (207)893-2757 for purchase information.

What This Is and Why We Care:

  • Hemlock makes up nearly 50% of the biomass of our state forests. It is an essential forage and shelter for wildlife, and is an industry-important tree species, being used for timber and paper pulp.
  • The Hemlock Wooly Adelgid is an Asian insect that has been slowly working its way northward, and decimates hemlock forests by draining the trees of vital fluids and nutrients. It has been seen in most coastal areas through Lincoln county, and many inland towns.
  • The goal of the Quarantine is to contain the spread of this pest as much as possible. Potentially infested plant material is not allowed to move from a quarantined area to a non-quarantined area. Protect our environment!

All in all, Canadian Hemlock is one of the most beautiful trees one can plant. Lovely soft green branches compliment any landscape and provide shelter for many kinds of wildlife. Keeping these trees healthy and happy will keep our Maine landscapes growing for years to come!



For more information:

Maine.gov page on the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid