White Pine Tree Information – Learn How To Plant A White Pine Tree

By: Teo Spengler

It’s easy to identify a white pine (Pinus strobus), but don’t look for white needles. You’ll be able to pick out these native trees because their bluish-green needles are attached to the branches in bundles of five. Gardeners living in USDA zones 5 through 7 are planting white pines as ornamental trees. Read on to learn how to plant a white pine tree.

White Pine Tree Information

White pines are lovely evergreens with graceful habits. The lush, 3- to 5-inch (7.5-12.5 cm.) needles make the tree look soft and attractive. White pine makes a fine specimen tree, but can also serve as a background plant, given its evergreen foliage.

These trees grow in a pyramidal Christmas tree shape, with the tiered branches emerging at right angles from the central trunk.

How to Plant a White Pine Tree

Before you start planting white pines in the backyard, make sure you can offer the optimal growing conditions for this pine tree. The trees will not thrive in a poor location.

You will need to give your white pines rich, moist, well-drained soil that is slightly acidic. Ideally, the site you choose for white pines should get full sun, but the species tolerates some shade. If you plant in an appropriate site, white pine tree care is not difficult.

The size of the tree is an important piece of white pine tree information. Gardeners with small backyards should avoid planting white pines. The tree can grow to 80 feet (24 m.) tall with a 40 foot (12 m.) spread. Occasionally, white pines grow to 150 feet (45.5 m.) or more.

If the sheer size of white pine trees is a problem, consider one of the smaller cultivars available in commerce. Both ‘Compacta’ and ‘Nana’ offer much smaller trees than the species tree.

Care of White Pine Trees

White pine tree care includes protecting the tree from conditions that will damage it. The species can be injured by road salt, winter wind, air pollution, and ice and snow. It is very susceptible to white pine blister rust, a disease that can kill the tree.

Both gooseberry and wild currant bushes harbor rust. If you are planting white pines, eradicate these shrubs from the planting area.

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Eastern White Pine Plant Profile

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

While the West Coast has taller trees, the eastern white pine is the biggest conifer native to eastern North America. This fast-growing evergreen with long, soft, blue-green needles is commonly found as far north as Newfoundland and as far south as northern Georgia, a span covering growing zones 3 to 8. This behemoth can grow to be as tall as 80 feet and as wide as 40 feet. Eastern white pine is the only pine tree in the East that bears five needles to a bundle. These bundles form clusters that look like little brushes.

Like other pines, this is a gymnosperm—a tree that bears seeds that are exposed in a cone structure rather than enclosed in a nut The tree's cones are cylindrical and are the largest pine cones found in many areas of the tree's range, reaching as much as 6 inches long. By comparison, the pine cones of a pitch pine (​Pinus rigida) measure only about 3 1/2 inches long.

Botanical Name Pinus strobus
Common Names Eastern white pine
Plant Type Needled evergreen tree
Mature Size 50 to 80 feet tall, 20- to 40-foot spread
Sun Exposure Full sun to part shade
Soil Type Medium-moisture, well-drained soil
Soil pH 5.5 to 6.5 (acidic)
Bloom Time Non-flowering
Flower Color Non-flowering
Hardiness Zones 3 to 8 (USDA)
Native Area Southeastern Canada, eastern U.S.

Things to Consider Before Planting Anything Under Your Pine

Firstly, contrary to the general belief, fresh pine needles do not drastically change the acidity of the ground. As the falling needles are only slightly acidic, possessing a pH of 3.2 to 3.8, they change the soil, pH only slightly, without proving to be harmful to any surrounding plants. So, it is better to test the soil acidity levels first. Then you may need to consider the following:

  • Adding limestone powder to the soil if you still believe the soil is too acidic for other plants. Apply at a ratio of 25lbs of lime per 1,000 sq ft area, starting about a year before you plant anything in the area.
  • Digging out the acidic soil replacing it with clean surface soil. Make sure not to damage the roots of the pine in any way.

As pine’s thick foliage covers the entire area below, it is often quite shaded and damp under pines. Cutting the lower branches of the pine tree allows sunlight to filter down to the adjacent soil, making it more suitable for plant growth. Once you do start growing other plants, it helps them to get enough light.

Being evergreen, pine trees absorb a lot of water. It can pose a problem for plants, ferns, and grasses growing beneath, as there is often not enough water left for them to absorb and sustain themselves. Here’s what may be done:

  • Provide extra water for the surrounding plants growing in the same soil for at least the initial years. Once established, they will be able to survive on less water, provided you choose the right plants.
  • Remove any dried up branches, pebbles, and weeds to help the adjoining plants to get their essential moisture from the soil.
  • Prune the pine tree regularly so rainwater may reach down to the very base. It will allow the neighboring plants to take in the excess moisture.

Always keep an eye out for any sign of distress on the plants, even after they get well-established. You may also choose to grow some container plants under the pine tree, so it becomes relatively more comfortable for you to take proper care of them while maintaining an aesthetic landscape instead of leaving the area bare.

Potential Threats

Most white pines don’t perform well in soils that are too wet. In addition to dry soils, they prefer more acidic soils, so a thick bed of pine needle mulch over the root zone will both cool the soil and lower its pH. One inch of water weekly keeps these trees happy.

Eastern white pines are susceptible to some pests and diseases. Rust and root rot can impact the tree’s appearance and health. Bigger problems include white pine weevils and white pine blister rust. Mitigate these potential threats with an appropriate plant health care program.


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The Japanese White Pine root system should be pruned gradually in the course of repotting, to ensure always leaving a strong root system. Branch pruning and wiring should be done in late autumn, and the wire left on the tree for 6-8 months at most. Pinch new shoots in spring to 1/3 of their length. This will result in buds forming in the fall at the sites where the shoots were removed. The reason this might be done is to form very short internodes on the branches.

Types of Pine Trees

1. Jack Pine

Scientific Name: Pinus banksiana

Mature Size: Up to 70 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-8

Light: Full sun

Water: Average moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining

This pine tree, also known as scrub pine and gray pine, is native to North America. It grows naturally across the eastern portion of Canada, as well as some of the eastern United States and is known for being very hardy. It is an evergreen conifer that is typically a small to medium-sized tree, but sometimes takes the form of a shrub in poor growing conditions. The tree has an irregular shape, with a crooked and bent trunk and asymmetrical crown. The foliage of the tree is needle-like and has an evergreen color. Cones are pale brown or gray when mature, with a curved tip. The tree has evolved to become adapted to fires, and its cones will remain closed for many years until they are exposed to extreme heat, such as in a forest fire. The cones will then disperse seed to self-sow on the burnt ground.

This is an easy tree to grow that is tolerant of a wide range of soil types, including clay soil and sandy soil. It can also tolerate dry conditions, though it performs best in well-draining, moderately moist soils.

2. Shore Pine

Scientific Name: Pinus contorta

Mature Size: Up to 160 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-8

Light: Full sun

Water: Average moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining, acidic

Cultivars and Varieties: Pinus contorta ‘Chief Joseph’, Bolander’s Beach Pine-Pinus contorta subsp. Bolanderi, Tamarack Pine-Pinus contorta subsp. Murrayana, Lodgepole Pine-Pinus contorta subsp. latifolia

This pine tree is native to North America, where it commonly grows in dry mountain regions or along the coastline, hence the common name of ‘shore pine.’ This tree is also known as ‘twisted pine,’ owing to its trunk and branches that take an unusual, contorted shape. This is often a result of ocean winds that sculpt the tree in a particular way. The tree’s foliage is needle-like and glossy and can vary in color between varieties, from yellow-green to deep, dark green. The cones of the tree have a copper tint and remain sealed tightly shut until exposed to high temperatures.

This tree is predominantly cultivated for its ornamental beauty, and it is the provincial tree of Alberta in Canada. It is tolerant of salt and high winds and thrives in well-draining soils that are slightly acidic.

3. Whitebark Pine

Scientific Name: Pinus albicaulis

Mature Size: Up to 90 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-8

Light: Full sun

Water: Average moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining, acidic

This tree is native to mountain ranges in the western United States and Canada and is known as the whitebark pine because of its bark that is a gray-white color. This bark is smooth when the tree is young, but it becomes scaly as it matures. The trunk of the tree can be straight, but can also become twisted and misshapen as a result of strong winds and other harsh climate conditions. The foliage of this tree is needle-like, with each needle measuring up to three inches long. They can vary in color from gray-green to yellow-green. The cones of this pine tree are oval and are red or purple. They remain closed for long periods of time and only open to disperse seeds when disturbed by animals. A bird called Clark’s nutcracker routinely breaks open the cones to harvest the seeds, and this is the main way the cones are opened. They also provide an important source of food for mountain wildlife, such as grizzly bears.

This is an especially hardy tree that is known to thrive in harsh climates where few other plant species will survive. It is tolerant of drought, snow, wind, and extreme cold. These trees can become dwarfed in unfavorable conditions, and perform best in well-draining soils that are acidic. This is an endangered species, and efforts are being made to conserve the existing whitebark pine population.

4. Japanese Red Pine

Scientific Name: Pinus densiflora

Mature Size: Up to 110 feet

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-7

Light: Full sun

Water: Average moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining, acidic

Cultivars and Varieties: Pinus densiflora ‘Low Glow’

This pine tree is native to China, Japan, the Korean peninsula, and a small part of Russia. It is also known as the Korean red pine tree and has become popularly cultivated for its ornamental beauty. The tree takes a graceful shape with a straight trunk and horizontal branches that extend outwards in a twisting and contorted fashion. The crown is dome-shaped, and bark is red-brown, which becomes papery and exfoliates with age. The foliage of the tree is needle-like, with upright pointing clusters of pale green needles forming at the tips of branches and twigs. The cones of the tree are also decorative, arriving in golden tan clusters.

This tree is very popular as a specimen tree, and also as a bonsai tree in Asian gardens. It is also widely cultivated in Japan for its timber. The tree grows well in full sun but will tolerate some afternoon shade in hot climates. It is easy to grow and performs best in well-draining soils that are slightly acidic. Moist soil is best, but the tree can tolerate short periods of drought.

5. Limber Pine

Scientific Name: Pinus flexilis

Mature Size: Up to 80 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-7

Light: Full sun

Water: Average moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining

This tree is native to Canada, Mexico, and the United States, with its largest range being in the Rocky Mountains. Its name comes from the fact that the branches of the tree are flexible. In ideal conditions, the tree can grow up to 80 feet, though it is more frequently seen at around 60 feet, and in windswept areas, the trees rarely exceed 10 feet in height. The bark of this tree is dark gray, and the foliage is blue-green in a needle-like form. The trunk can be straight or contorted depending on the growing conditions, and branches are upwards pointing. The tree silhouette has a flat top. The cones of this tree are large and thick, measuring around eight inches long.

These are vibrant green when young and brown when mature. The seeds provide a valuable food source for both birds and squirrels. The tree is widely cultivated for its ornamental value, and also for use as a Christmas tree. It has a good tolerance for drought and is also popularly used as a windbreak. The tree performs best in well-draining soil but is adaptable to a wide range of soil types. This is a long-lived tree, with some specimens being documented as being 2000 years old.

6. Sugar Pine

Scientific Name: Pinus lambertiana

Mature Size: Up to 250 feet

USDA Hardiness Zone: 7-9

Light: Full sun

Water: Average moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining

This tree is native to mountain ranges throughout the Pacific coastline of the United States. It is regarded as the tallest of all pine trees, with the largest known specimen measuring over 273 feet tall and growing in Yosemite National Park. More commonly, this tree grows to heights ranging from 130 to 200 feet tall. It also produces the longest cones of any conifer tree, with seed cones measuring up to 20 inches long. The cones contain edible seeds that are similar to pine nuts.

As a young tree, the sugar pine has a narrow pyramid shape. As it grows taller, much of the straight trunk can be seen as its branches are widely spaced out, leaving most of the trunk bare. The branches of the tree are wide-spreading and horizontal or pendulus. The foliage of the tree is needle-like, with clusters of dark blue-green needles that can individually be as long as four inches. This tree is long-lived and grows best in well-draining soil in full sun.

7. Bosnian Pine

Scientific Name: Pinus heldreichii

Mature Size: Up to 110 feet

USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-8

Light: Full sun

Water: Average moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining

Cultivars and Varieties: Pinus heldreichii ‘Compact Gem’, Pinus heldreichii ‘Malinki’, Pinus heldreichii ‘Schmidtii’

This evergreen pine tree is native to the mountain ranges of southern Italy and the Balkans and is the symbol of the Pollino National Park in Italy. The foliage of the tree is needle-like, with each needle measuring up to four inches long, and growing in small bundles. The cones are long and slender, measuring between two and four inches long. They are a purple-blue color when they emerge, making the tree very decorative, but they develop to brown when mature. The seeds of the cones are dispersed by the wind. This tree is popular in parks as it is ornamental and has a steady growth rate. There are several cultivars that produce compact and dwarf versions of the tree that are suitable for growing in small to average-sized gardens.

This tree is known to be the oldest living tree in Europe, with some examples being over 1300 years old. This is an adaptable tree that thrives in a range of growing conditions. It is tolerant of wind, drought, pollution, ice, and snow, and adapts well to a range of soil types including sandy or clay soils. It is also less susceptible to pests than many other types of pines. It thrives in full sun in moist and well-draining soil.

8. Austrian Pine

Scientific Name: Pinus nigra

Mature Size: Up to 180 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-8

Light: Full sun

Water: Average moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining

Cultivars and Varieties: Pinus nigra ‘Helga’, Pinus nigra ‘Komet’, Pinus nigra ‘Green Tower’, Crimean Black Pine-Pinus nigra subsp. nigra var. Pallasiana, Pyrenean Pine-Pinus nigra subsp. salzmannii var. Salzmannii, Turkish Black Pine-Pinus nigra subsp. nigra var. Caramanica, Italian Black Pine-Pinus nigra subsp. nigra var. italica

Also known as black pine, this tree is native to the Mediterranean region, from Spain across to North Africa, and it has become naturalized across some of the United States midwest. It is predominantly found in scrublands, forests, and woodland areas, typically at around 6000 feet above sea level. The tree takes a conical shape and grows at a moderately fast rate of around 20 inches per year. The foliage is needle-like, in deep dark green. The bark of the tree is considered an ornamental aspect of the Austrian pine. It is thick and scaly, more so on older specimens, and can range in color from gray to pink or yellow. The seed cones are conical, and emerge in bright green but develop to gray-brown or yellow-brown as they age.

The tree is widely cultivated as an ornamental tree throughout Europe, the United States, and Canada. It is noted for its resistance to salt spray, extreme winds, pollution, and frost hardiness. It is also cultivated for its timber that is used in general construction and to produce paper. The tree thrives in full sun, in a well-draining and moist soil. It can withstand drought once mature, and adapts well to clay soils but will not tolerate shade or soils that are heavy in limestone.

9. Dwarf Mountain Pine

Scientific Name: Pinus mugo

Mature Size: Up to 60 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-7

Light: Full sun

Water: Average moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining

Cultivars and Varieties: Pinus mugo ‘Slowmound’, Pinus mugo ‘Humpy’, Pinus mugo ‘Ophir’, Pinus mugo ‘Gnom’

This tree is native to Europe, growing in the subalpine zone of mountain ranges across France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Poland, and the Balkan Peninsula. It has become naturalized in Denmark, where it was widely planted to help with the erosion of sand dunes, but it has since become an invasive species. It is also considered invasive in other parts of Scandinavia, and in New Zealand. The foliage of the tree takes the shape of dark green needles that can measure up to three inches long. Cones are scaly and deep brown, measuring between one and two inches in length.

This is a popularly cultivated tree in home gardens, especially the cultivars that exist with height expectancies of between two and six feet. Several of these cultivars, such as ‘Ophir,’ have received the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society. Dwarf Mountain Pines grow easily, adapting to a range of soils, including clay, sandy, acidic, or alkaline. They are also drought-tolerant but perform best in moist and well-draining soils.

10. Japanese White Pine

Scientific Name: Pinus parviflora

Mature Size: Up to 80 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-9

Light: Full sun

Water: Average moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining

Cultivars and Varieties: Pinus parviflora ‘Goldilocks’, Pinus parviflora ‘Bonnie Bergman’, Pinus parviflora ‘Hagoromo Seedling’, Pinus parviflora ‘Adcock’s Dwarf’, Pinus parviflora ‘Glauca’, Pinus parviflora ‘Tempelhof’

This tree is native to Japan and Korea. It takes a broad conical shape, typically growing as wide as it is tall. This evergreen conifer has a dense growth habit, with needle-like foliage appearing in clusters, and each needle measuring around two inches long. The cones are small but chunky, with rounded scales. This tree is commonly cultivated across Asia in parks and gardens and is also popularly used as a bonsai tree. Many cultivars exist that are also loved by home gardeners across North America and Europe, including ‘Glauca’ and ‘Bonnie Bergman’, which have received the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.

These trees thrive in full sun and moist, well-draining soils. They will tolerate drought once established, but cannot tolerate high levels of heat or humidity.

11. Longleaf Pine

Scientific Name: Pinus palustris

Mature Size: Up to 100 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 7-10

Light: Full sun

Water: Low moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining, acidic

This evergreen conifer is native to the Southeastern United States and is the official state tree of Alabama. It has a straight trunk and short branches, from which needle-like foliage appears in small, dense clusters. The needles are noted for being exceptionally long, with each needle measuring up to 14 inches. The cones are also large, with the most sizable seed cones of any native North American pine tree. These are typically between six and ten inches long and can remain on the tree for many years. The tree is very slow-growing when young. It will remain as a grass-like tuft on the ground for up to seven years after germinating, but will then take on a steadier growth rate. It can take as long as 150 years to reach its full height, with a life expectancy of around 500 years.

It was once popularly cultivated for its timber but has since been replaced with faster growing trees. It is cultivated along coastlines and has edible seeds that can be enjoyed raw or when roasted. The tree is especially drought-tolerant and can survive with no watering it all. It thrives in full sun in well-draining and acidic soil types.

12. Eastern White Pine

Scientific Name: Pinus strobus

Mature Size: Up to 230 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-9

Light: Full sun

Water: Average moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining

Cultivars and Varieties: Pinus strobus ‘Pendula’, Pinus strobus ‘Nana’, Pinus strobus ‘Blue Shag’, Pinus strobus ‘Tiny Kurls’

Also known as the soft pine and northern white pine, this tree is native to the eastern portions of North America. It grows naturally from the Appalachian Mountains up to Newfoundland in Canada and the Great Lakes region near Manitoba. It is the official state tree of both Maine and Michigan. It was introduced to much of central and eastern Europe where it has become naturalized. The foliage of this tree is blue-green and takes the shape of flexible needles. The cones are long and narrow, typically measuring between three and six inches long. They have rounded scales, with seeds that get dispersed by wind. It can grow to 230 feet in height and is regarded as the tallest tree in eastern North America.

It is widely cultivated in parks as a fast-growing landscape tree. It is also grown for its timber, and for use as Christmas trees, being especially popular among people with allergies as the trees produce no aroma. The tree is tolerant of a wide range of soil types but thrives in well-draining, moist soils.

13. Scotch Pine

Scientific Name: Pinus sylvestris

Mature Size: Up to 110 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-7

Light: Full sun

Water: Average moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining

Cultivars and Varieties: Pinus sylvestris ‘Glauca’, Pinus sylvestris ‘Beuvronensis’, Pinus sylvestris ‘Gold Coin’, Pinus sylvestris ‘Frensham’

This tree is native to Europe and is the national tree of Scotland. It has a conical shape when young, developing into a widely branched umbrella-shaped canopy when mature. It produces blue-green needle-like foliage that becomes yellow-green in winter. The cones point back towards the trunk and are red at first, developing to gray-brown after they have been pollinated. The tree is popularly cultivated for use as a Christmas tree, and it is also grown for its timber that is used in general construction work. It is also popularly cultivated in parks and gardens, with several cultivars having received the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society. It thrives in cool summer climates and adapts well to a range of soil types. It cannot tolerate high levels of heat and humidity.

Plants→Pinus→Pine (Pinus)

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Tree
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Partial or Dappled Shade
Water Preferences: Mesic
Plant Height : Dwarf varieties attain heights from 2 to 6 feet while standard varieties attain heights to 150 feet or more.
Leaves: Evergreen
Fruit: Edible to birds
Underground structures: Taproot
Suitable Locations: Street Tree
Uses: Useful for timber production
Wildlife Attractant: Birds
Resistances: Humidity tolerant
Drought tolerant

This beautiful annual of the Fabaceae family is the most recognized Texas Native Wildflower.

There are about 120 species of Pines that are native to most of the Northern Hemisphere, ranging from just south of the tundra down into the tropics. They are evergreen conifers of the Gymnosperms that usually are trees, but some are shrubs. There are two major groups of Pines: the Soft (White) Pines that bear soft needles in clusters of 5 and bear cylindrical female cones with papery cone scales, and the Hard (Black) Pines that bear hard to semi-soft needles in clusters of 2 or 3 and bear conical female cones with woody cone scales. One feature that separates Pines from other conifers is that they have a paper sheath that surrounds the base of the needles. Pines bear soft, yellow pollinate (male) cones that expand in the spring and release yellow pollen. The seed (female) cones are the brown papery or woody structures that bear the seed. Both male and female cones are on the same tree or shrub, so they are monoecious. The first fossils of Pine show up during the Cretaceous Era of over 63 million years ago during the time of the Dinosaurs. Many pines are used as a source of "softwood" lumber, and there are a number of pine plantations planted around the world, even in the tropics of the Southern Hemisphere with Caribbean and Monterey Pines. Pine trees make lovely landscape trees and a few shrubs. Pines like other evergreens drop some needles all year long, but especially so in autumn in the temperate regions to prepare for winter. Most pines prefer sandy, acid soils, often poor in nutrients, but can grow well in silt and/or clay soils that are acid, and a few also in slightly alkaline soils as the Black Pine of Europe. There are a few Pines, like Loblolly & Longleaf of the southern US, that can grow in draining or aeriated wet soils though generally Pines like well-drained. A good number of Pines sent out a lot of seed after forest fires to colonize the newly open ground.

We have begun to collect the nuts from our pine tree. We salt and roast them, or we grind them into a seasoning. You can grind them into seasoning either after roasting them, or just grinding them fresh off the tree.

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