How to Care for Baby Pine Trees
Evergreen trees generally have many benefits. They’re relatively low maintenance, able to grow in many soil types, and once saplings are given adequate care to take root, they can grow into healthy adult trees that offer color and shade covering year-round. Their fragrance is often associated with family Christmas celebrations and decorating the tree and with forest walks, rich with adventure and exploration. Pine trees come in many varieties, shapes, and sizes and are some of the most recognizable trees from the conifer family.
Planting your own pine tree can make a great addition to your landscaping, help with reforestation, or even be a pleasant addition as an indoor plant. Young trees are vulnerable, however. To take full advantage of all of the benefits your pine tree has to offer, you’ll want to make sure you know how to care for baby pine trees. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind so that you can have a thriving pine tree.
Growing From Seed or Seedling?
Once you’ve made the decision as to which type of pine tree you’d like to grow, you can decide whether you want to transplant a seedling or grow your tree from seed.
Purchasing already potted pine seedlings from your local nursery is a great place to start. This way you are more likely to be successful when growing a pine tree. A seedling will need to be transplanted, however, into soil, and this process requires intentionality. Even though their root base might be wrapped in burlap when you bring them home, you’ll want to look after the roots of your baby pine trees.
Maybe you prefer to start by growing a pine tree from its seed. This is doable but takes experimentation and regular effort over several months. Anyone who has pine trees in their yard has likely found seedlings at the base of their pine trees during the summer months. Pine cones fall from the trees, and it’s in their nature to plant themselves. While it’s possible to simulate this process by mimicking many climate conditions, planting a sapling could be easier, especially when starting out.
Preparing the Site for Transplanting
To give your baby pine tree the best opportunity for survival, you’ll want to thoughtfully prepare the planting site. Trees with a diameter of less than three inches are vulnerable, and a seedling is less than an inch in diameter and a sapling only a bit more. Because of this, you’ll want to look after the new tree’s roots so it can take root as quickly as possible in the new location. You will also want to ensure there’s plenty of sunlight for your new pine tree, as this helps stimulate root growth.
Weeds are a major competitor for nutrients in the soil and choke out the roots of a baby pine tree, so before you transplant, clear the area of weeds. You may choose a chemical spray available at your local garden or hardware store, followed by manual weeding once the weedkiller has worked. When the weeds are removed, loosen the soil with a shovel or mechanical tiller.
Drainage and Soil Nutrients
You will also need to ensure the area has adequate drainage. You don’t want to drown the roots. Overly moist roots could rot instead of growing. You can assess the drainage capacity by digging a hole approximately one foot deep and filling it with water. If the hole drains within 12 hours, it has good drainage, and you can go ahead with transplanting. If the hole takes longer to drain, try a different location or find a variety of pine that thrives in a wetter environment. Depending on what this soil was used for in the past, you might also consider adding fertilizer to reintroduce nutrients.
Dig a hole that’s deep enough for the root cluster to sit below the surface while still being at the soil line. If the roots are buried too deeply, water could collect around them, and they may rot. You’ll also want to make sure the pine tree is planted upright. Do this by staking the tree to stabilize it. Firmly replace the soil over the top of the roots but don’t compact it.
Once the baby pine tree is planted, cover the area surrounding it with mulch. This will prevent weeds from overtaking the area around the tree and the tree itself. Mulch also helps regulate temperatures so that the tree has a more consistent growing environment.
Maintaining Baby Pine Trees
As with any tree that has been transplanted, watering is important to keep the roots hydrated. The soil and mulch should be moist to the touch but not be soaked with standing water. Irrigation that allows for a slow and steady drip-feed is the most reliable way to nourish a baby pine tree, especially if caring for any damaged or underdeveloped roots.
As your pine tree matures into an adult tree, continue to be watchful for any pests that may hinder the growth of the tree. Deer, rabbits, and other small foraging animals enjoy young trees, so you might find that building a simple fence—using stakes and chicken wire—around your tree for protection could help.
Monitoring your pine trees for healthy growth also involves occasional pruning. Pruning aids in pest prevention too, by ensuring deadwood is removed and branches and bark are inspected regularly. A professional arborist can advise you on pruning a young tree or even do the work for you. While trees are resilient, pruning is a science to determine which parts of a tree should be removed maintaining maximum healthy growth.
Mr. Tree Services can help you with all your tree propagation, planting, and landscaping, as well as answer your tree-related questions. They can also advise you on where and when to plant your baby pine tree and provide ongoing support to care for it through maturity. If you have any questions or simply would like to speak to a tree expert, don’t hesitate to contact their office.