Dependent on species/cvs. the majority of conifers have distinct habits (plant shapes) both as juvenile plants for sale and in maturity. Typically conifers must be well furnished overall from above ground level with live shoots. Many evergreen conifers are often regularly pruned to create a more branched or bushier habit than would be typical. As a result of this treatment vigorous growing conifers are typically well furnished overall up to the last annual shoot and the whorl distances as well as the length of the last annual shoot must correspond to the total habit of the plant.
Upright growing forms (both compact and vigorous varieties) must have not more than one single dominant leading shoot. The exceptions to this are hedging and bushy species, e.g. Taxus spp., Thuja spp.
Conifer habit is defined by the following words:
- Leader and Laterals
- Single Leader (furnished to base)
A branched habit is defined as "a plant with lateral shoots arising either from a main stem or from a Central point. Relatively few sub-lateral shoots."
Juniperus spp. (prostrate/vigorous species/cvs)
e.g. J. x media 'Pfitzeriana'
Juniperus spp. (prostrate/medium species/cvs)
e.g. J. horizontalis 'Wiltonii'
For this HABIT the number of breaks (branches) within the lower third of the plant is specified. For Juniperus spp. it is 3NO.
Figure 1: CONIFER WITH BUSHY HABIT
(Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Boulevard')
A bushy habit is defined as "a plant often without a defined main stem. Lateral shoots often arising from a central point but sometimes also from elsewhere. More sub-lateral shoots produced than a branched plant."
Bushy plants normally cover the pot (when container grown) except where a diameter dimension is shown, when it is less than the pot diameter.
Chamaecyparis spp. (dwarf species/cvs)
Juniperus spp. (dwarf species/cvs)
Picea spp. (dwarf species/cvs)
Pinus spp. (medium species/cvs)
Tsuga spp. (dwarf species/cvs)
Leader and laterals
Figure 2: CONIFER WITH LEADER
AND LATERALS (Pinus wallichiana)
A habit with Leader and Laterals is defined as "a plant with a single dominant shoot with significant side shoots."
Abies spp. (medium species/cvs)
Cedrus spp. (medium and vigorous species/cvs)
x Cupressocyparis spp. (vigorous species/cvs)
Picea spp. (medium and vigorous species/cvs)
Pinus spp. (vigorous species/cvs)
Tsuga spp. (vigorous species/cvs)
Single Leader – Furnished to Base
Figure 3: CONIFER WITH SINGLE LEADER
(Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Columnaris')
A conifer with a single leader - furnished to base is defined as a plant with "a single dominant shoot evenly furnished from top to base with light, comparatively short side shoots which, when carrying leaves, virtually cover the leader from top to bottom with foliage."
Chamaecyparis spp. (vigorous species/cvs)
X Cupressocyparis spp. (medium/vigorous species/cvs.)
Juniperus spp. (medium/vigorous species/cvs.)
Picea spp. (larger dwarf species/cvs.)
Thuja spp. (medium/vigorous species/cvs.)
The exception is TAXUS SPP. where a number of leaders is acceptable, furnished to base.