How far apart should you plant pine trees

Planting Southern Pines: A Guide to Species Selection and Planting Techniques

Mississippi landowners have made a strong commitment to planting trees over the last several decades. Financial incentives to encourage tree planting spurred additional interest. As more landowners become involved with tree planting, they learn that proper species selection and careful handling and care of seedlings are vitally important in the success of their reforestation investments. Use this publication as a guide for selecting the proper species and handling seedlings throughout all phases of tree planting.

Selecting a Proper Species

Species selection is the critical first step in tree planting. Maximum growth and yield are possible only if the right species for the particular planting site and geographic location are selected. This information is presented in Table 1. Planting the wrong species on a site results in poor survival, poor growth, and low product yield. Geographic location limits species choice. For example, slash and longleaf pine planted in northern Mississippi suffer from branch and stem breakage when ice forms on needles.

Species selection also influences the products produced. Longleaf pine may be preferred if high-quality sawlog and pole production is the primary objective. If maximum fiber yield is required, loblolly or slash pine might be favored.

Loblolly pine is the most commonly planted, with limited acreages of shortleaf pine, slash pine, and longleaf pine planted on appropriate sites.

Table 1. Species–site selection guide.


Suitable Planting Range


Loblolly pine

Piedmont and Coastal Plain


Best growth in Coastal Plain on soils with poor surface drainage, a deep surface layer with a firm subsoil (clay layer) within 20 inches of the soil surface. In the Piedmont, uneroded soils with a deep surface and friable subsoil are best.


Deep, well-drained sandy soils of the Coastal Plain and eroded Piedmont soils with clay subsoil exposed or near the surface. In the Coastal Plain, productivity decreases as surface drainage increases.

Slash pine

Coastal Plain


Spodosols with depth to a clay layer greater than 20 inches from the surface. These are common soils of the “flatwoods.” They are characterized by light gray to white sands over dark sandy loam subsoils. Hardpans or fragipans that restrict root growth and downward water movement are common.


Deep, excessively well-drained sands and very poorly drained soils.

Longleaf pine

Coastal Plain


Generally found on well-drained to moderately well-drained, light-colored sandy soils that are acid and low in organic matter. With proper weed control, longleaf is well adapted to more productive loamy soils.


Growth on poorly drained and excessively well-drained soils is slow.

Shortleaf pine

Northern Piedmont

and Mountains


Fine sandy loams or silt loams with indistinct profile development, friable subsoil, and good internal drainage.


Heavy clay soils or eroded soils with clay subsoil at or near the soil surface.

Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda L.)

This species is found throughout Mississippi and is the most important and widely planted pine in the South. Loblolly pine produces more than half the total pine volume in the region. Since it is found on a variety of areas and sites, there has been a great deal of research into development of breeding and seed stock.

Pine tip moth can be a problem in young stands, damaging terminal shoot growth. Control with insecticides is possible, however; only practical in extreme infestations. Older trees are rarely seriously damaged by this pest. Pine bark beetles can cause excessive damage to low-vigor, overcrowded, slow-growing stands of loblolly pine. Good management practices promoting vigorous stand growth greatly reduce pine bark beetle hazards.

Genetic improvement efforts over the past several decades have yielded vastly superior seedling stocks compared to those available in the past. A wide variety of planting stocks are available to those searching for the “perfect” seedling to use in their planting efforts. For information regarding loblolly planting stock selection, see MSU Extension Publication 2617 What Are Genetically Improved Seedlings?

Slash Pine (Pinus elliottii Englem.)

Originally restricted to a limited natural range of only 7 million acres, planting has greatly extended the present range of slash pine to more than 12 million acres. However, many of these plantings were installed off-site and are beyond the northern limits of their natural range. These off-site plantings often suffer from ice damage and severe fusiform rust infections.

Slash pine is sometimes planted in the Lower Coastal Plain for pulp, sawlog, and pole production. Stands tend to stagnate if not thinned early to maintain adequate crown development. If thinnings are delayed until trees are 25–30 years old, little response will be gained from thinning.

Bark beetles attack slash pine, particularly during extended dry spells, after stem damage from lightning strikes, and after logging operations. Other insect pests, such as pine tip moth, cause only minor damage in most cases.

Slash pine is very susceptible to fusiform rust. Trees that develop galls in the main stem are prone to breakage and early mortality. Annosus root disease (annosus root rot) Fomes annosus can invade recently thinned slash pine and loblolly pine stands. The fungus attacks the tree’s root system, ultimately killing the tree. Thinnings made during the summer lessen the chance of disease. Chemical controls were historically used during thinning operations in high-risk areas; however, the prevalence of annosus seems to have decreased across much of the South.

Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris Mill.)

Longleaf pine once dominated the Coastal Plain forest of Mississippi and naturally occurs over much of the southern and south-central portions of Mississippi. It extends north to Claiborne County on the western border and to Kemper County on the eastern border.

With the advent of statewide fire control and the inability of the species to tolerate weed competition, longleaf pine has largely been replaced in its native range by slash and loblolly pine and native hardwoods. (Periodic fires once kept competing vegetation reduced to a point where the more fire-resistant longleaf was easily established and flourished.) During the grass stage of longleaf seedlings, which may last 3–8 years, no height growth occurs. This delay of height growth allows competing vegetation to occupy sites at the expense of longleaf seedlings. Once out of the grass stage, longleaf grows rapidly, producing trees with straight, clear trunks that are highly valued for lumber, poles, and pilings.

The grass stage is shortened and successful regeneration is made possible through the use of high-quality seedlings, proper planting techniques, and adequate site preparation with herbaceous weed control during the first growing season. Longleaf is a good choice for dry and intermediate sites where fusiform rust is a hazard to successful establishment and growth of slash pine.

Longleaf pine is less susceptible to bark beetles and other insect pests compared to other southern pines. Fusiform rust is not a serious problem in longleaf stands. However, in some areas, seedlings are susceptible to brown spot needle blight fungus. When brown spot infestations are severe and prolonged, seedling death occurs. Use chemical treatments and prescribed burning to control brown spot.

Shortleaf Pine (Pinus echinata Mill.)

Very few landowners plant shortleaf pine; most prefer loblolly pine due to its superior growth. However, on well-drained and drought-prone sites in the northern range of loblolly pine and where potential ice damage is severe, shortleaf pine is a viable alternative. In addition, recent federal restoration efforts have resulted in increasing shortleaf pine acreage planted across the species’ range. Shortleaf pine is naturally resistant to fusiform rust, but seedlings are damaged by pine tip moths. Southern pine beetles and other bark beetles can cause severe damage in shortleaf pine stands. Slow-growing stands are most readily attacked. Maintain adequate stocking and growth rate by thinning shortleaf stands to reduce serious damage from pine bark beetles.

Littleleaf disease is the most serious problem with shortleaf pine management. Trees in stands established on fine-textured soils that are periodically excessively wet and then dry begin showing stunted, yellowing needles when their age exceeds 30 years. Damage is caused by a fungus pathogen that feeds on tree roots, reducing water and nutrient uptake. Diameter growth is greatly reduced, and mortality is very high. Control is impractical. The recommended treatment is to salvage infected trees before they die or are attacked by bark beetles. After harvest, replanting efforts should center around loblolly pine.

Comparing Species

Table 2 provides a quick comparison of traits of the major southern pines. Consider characteristics of your planting site and geographic location when evaluating these species traits.

Species selection in Mississippi is normally an easy choice since loblolly pine is preferred on most sites. However, landowners in the Lower Coastal Plain are faced with several alternatives and should compare several species to determine which is best suited to their site. A problem sometime encountered is that of deciding between slash pine and loblolly pine. Slash was historically favored in Coastal Plain, not only for pulp and timber production, but also as a source of resin and turpentine, along with longleaf pine. However, loblolly pine plantings have greatly increased in the region, and many landowners and foresters are unsure as to the merits of loblolly over slash pine.

The following comparisons should help make the slash–loblolly pine selection in the Coastal Plain clearer. As in any planting, it is critical to match the species to the site. Soil properties and drainage are often used to decide between planting slash or loblolly pine on a particular site. General soil–site conditions and species preference are summarized in Table 3.

Other generalizations have been made to compare loblolly and slash pine in the Coastal Plain:

Slash pine is usually preferred on wet, poorly drained flatwoods sites; loblolly is favored on moist to better-drained soils.

Loblolly is favored on good sites where hardwood competition is a problem because slash pine is less tolerant of hardwood competition.

Slash pine grows better than loblolly pine on poorly drained sites where phosphorus is limited (determined by a soil test) if the site is not fertilized.

Loblolly pine is more susceptible to attack from southern pine beetles than slash pine.

Table 2. Pine species trait comparison (high-1, low-4).






Fusiform rust resistance/tolerance





Susceptibility to southern pine beetle





Susceptibility to littleleaf disease





Drought resistance





Cold tolerance





Resistance to ice damage





Tolerance to poor drainage





Fertility requirement





Resistance to stand stagnation






Table 3. Coastal Plain soil–site relationships. [1]

Drainage class

Soil horizon description

Species preference

Very poorly to somewhat poorly drained

No spodic horizon; clay layer within 20 inches of soil surface

loblolly, slash

Very poorly to somewhat poorly drained

No spodic horizon; clay layer greater than 20 inches from soil surface

slash, loblolly

Very poorly to somewhat poorly drained

Spodic horizon; clay layer present

loblolly, slash, longleaf

Poorly to moderately well drained

Spodic horizon; no clay layer present

slash, loblolly, longleaf

Moderately well to well drained

No spodic horizon; clay layer within 20 inches of soil surface

loblolly, slash, longleaf

Moderately well to well drained

No spodic horizon; clay layer greater than 20 inches deep

slash, loblolly, longleaf

Somewhat excessively to excessively drained

No spodic horizon; clay layer may or may not be present


Very poorly to poorly drained

Organic surface (peat, muck) greater than 20 inches thick

loblolly, slash

Spodic horizon refers to a spodosol common in “flatwoods” areas. These soils are characterized by a surface of a light gray to white sand over a darker sandy loam subsoil. A fragipan may be present that restricts root growth and limits downward movement of water. Phosphorus may be required for establishment of loblolly pine on very poorly drained soils. You should use longleaf only on the better drained soils. You should avoid using longleaf on very poorly soils or poorly soils.

Seed Source and Planting Zones

Landowners often buy seedlings from other states. Seedlings produced out-of-state may or may not be appropriate for some areas within Mississippi. The following guidelines will help you in selecting a source for seeds and seedlings.

Loblolly Pine

Historically, loblolly seedlings were grown from genetically unimproved seed collected from “woods run” trees. Genetic improvement has provided loblolly planting stock capable of growing and surviving across a wide range of site conditions and a level of resistance to insects/diseases unheard of a few decades ago. Consequently, many survival concerns associated with planting loblolly in the past are not problematic in today’s regeneration efforts. Some stock is more appropriate under various conditions, but as a whole, seed origin is often not a concern. For more information on appropriate loblolly selections please read, MSU Extension Publication 2617, “What Are Genetically Improved Seedlings?”

Slash Pine

On sites where fusiform rust is common, plant seedlings from sources with demonstrated rust resistance. If such seedlings are unavailable, rust-resistant loblolly sources or longleaf pine may be used.

Longleaf Pine

Favor local sources. Avoid seedlings from southern Florida and west of the Mississippi River. Seedlings produced from seed from central gulf states should do well.

Shortleaf Pine

Few private landowners plant shortleaf pine because loblolly pine is typically preferred. Additionally, it may be very difficult to find a nursery source of shortleaf seedlings. Most planting is on national forest lands. Where shortleaf pine is planted, use seedlings produced from local sources within that geographic region.

Ordering Seedlings

Once you select your species, order your seedlings from the nursery. Plan ahead to allow for adequate site preparation and to ensure availability of seedlings. Most state and private nurseries begin taking seedling orders as early as the spring before planting season. Place orders early so that you have enough seedlings to meet your planting needs.

Several decisions must be made before ordering seedlings, such as how many seedlings you need and when they should be delivered. Information in the preceding sections will help you select the right species for your planting sites.

To determine the number of seedlings to order, consider several points:

  1. How many acres are you going to plant? Determine acreage by actual field measurement, or estimate from maps, aerial photos, or other records.
  2. What spacing will you use? Historically, many pine plantations were established with seedling densities in the range of 600–700 seedlings per acre. Current planting techniques typically use seedling densities somewhere between 450 and 550 trees per acre. More or fewer seedlings may be planted based on landowner objectives. A minimum of 500 pine seedlings per acre is required for participation in many federal assistance programs. In some cases, the forest industry has planted seedlings at densities of up to 1,000 seedlings per acre to maximize fiber production in short rotations for use in their pulp mills. However, most landowners will get better investment returns by planting 450–550 trees per acre and managing for late-rotation products, such as sawtimber and poles.
    Seedlings are planted at different spacings to achieve the desired density. A general trend is toward wider spacing between rows for better stand access for fire control, thinning, and harvesting equipment. Compare various spacings by using Table 4.
    Determine the number of seedlings required for any spacing by using this formula:
    Multiply desired spacing in feet and divide that product into the number of square feet per acre. For example, how many seedlings would be required to plant 1 acre at a spacing of 9 by 10 feet?
    9 feet by 10 feet = 90 square feet
    43,560 square feet per acre/
    90 square feet per seedling
    = 484 seedlings per acre
  3. Make an allowance for cull seedlings. Cull seedlings are seedlings that are too small or too large to plant as well as those that die or are damaged before planting. Identifying cull seedlings is covered in detail in a later section. When ordering, allow for a 5 percent cull factor. In effect, you will be ordering 5 percent more seedlings than you calculate you need for planting. This also helps account for any shortage in the number of seedlings actually packaged. Seedlings are typically weighed for counting purposes. The final shipping count is usually an approximate number obtained using average seedling weight (the expected weight of the order is divided by the average weight of a seedling). While this method usually works well, sometimes large seedlings result in a low final seedling count.
    If you order seedlings to plant 35 acres at a 7 by 10 spacing and allow for a 5 percent cull factor, you need to order 23,000 seedlings.
    7 by 10 spacing = 622 seedlings per acre (see Table 4)
    35 acres by 622 seedlings per acre
    = 21,770 seedlings
    5% cull factor: 21,770 x 1.05 = 22,859 seedlings
    22,859 rounded to the next highest 1,000
    = 23,000 seedlings to be ordered
Table 4. Seedlings per acre by spacing.

Spacing (feet)

Number of seedlings

Spacing (feet)

Number of seedlings

6 x 8


9 x 9


6 x 9


 9 x 10


6 x 10


 9 x 11


6 x 11


 9 x 12


6 x 12


 10 x 10


7 x 7


 10 x 11


7 x 8


 10 x 12


7 x 9


 12 x 11


7 x 10


 12 x 12


7 x 11


 12 x 15


7 x 12


 15 x 7


8 x 8


 15 x 8


8 x 9


 15 x 9


8 x 10


 15 x 10


8 x 11


 15 x 15


8 x 12




Delivery Dates

Planting season begins in December and should be completed by March. The optimum period is from late December to mid-February. Weather conditions often force extension of the planting season, causing problems with proper seedling storage.

Early planting before cold weather can kill seedlings if they have not hardened off while still in the nursery beds. Hardening-off is a physiological process where seedlings become acclimated to colder temperatures by reaching a stage of dormancy where active growth is temporarily suspended. Some nurseries use chilling hours (temperatures between 33°F and 40°F) as an indication of dormancy. Chilling hours are monitored in the nursery, and seedlings are typically lifted after 200 or more chilling hours have accumulated. This provides seedlings that should be planted immediately or stored for no more than 2 or 3 days. When 400 chilling hours have accumulated, seedlings reach peak dormancy and can be cold-stored for up to 8–12 weeks.

If large acreages are to be planted or delays are expected, arrange for the nursery to split shipments of seedlings to allow you to store and handle a minimum number of seedlings at a time. If split shipments are not possible, make sure that you secure adequate space locally for “out-of-the-weather” storage.

Seedling Storage and Care

Pine seedlings are commonly packaged in kraft-polyethylene lined (K-P) bags or wax-coated boxes. These packages protect seedling quality during transport and storage.

Proper storage conditions must be provided before planting to maintain seedling viability. It is always best to plant seedlings as soon as possible. Do not store nondormant seedlings lifted early or late in the planting season; plant them as soon as possible. Plant longleaf pine seedlings within 1 week after lifting from the nursery. These seedlings are extremely perishable and should be planted immediately.

When your seedlings are delivered, you should be sure that they are protected from direct sun, high temperatures, and freezing temperatures. If you pick up your seedlings from the nursery or distribution point, provide cool, shaded conditions during transportation. Arrange to pick up seedlings in late afternoon and schedule long-distance hauling at night to prevent heat buildup from the sun. If an open truck or trailer is used, a tarp can shade the seedlings, but be sure to allow for ventilation under the tarp and around the seedlings to prevent heat buildup.

Cold-storage facilities offer the best conditions to store pine seedlings. Dormant seedlings packaged in bags or boxes can be kept for 8–12 weeks in cold storage at temperatures of 33–36°F and high relative humidity. Always allow excess water to drain from the seedling packages to prevent damage from decay. Discolored roots and a sour smell indicate damage from lack of water drainage. Seedlings in K-P bags and boxes do not require watering if the packages have been unopened and undamaged. (Roots coated with kaolin clay are white.) After opening seedling packages, root systems should be watered to avoid root dessication.

To prevent seedlings from drying out, store them at a relative humidity of 85–95 percent. If the relative humidity inside the storage chamber falls below 80 percent, spray water on the walls and floor to increase humidity. Do not stack bags or boxes over two high, and always allow for adequate air circulation around all containers. This also prevents damage from crushing.

Most landowners do not have access to cold-storage facilities; therefore, when seedlings cannot be planted immediately, landowners must rely on shed storage where seedlings can be protected from wind and temperature extremes. Seedlings in bags and unopened boxes trap heat generated from respiration. This heat buildup within the package can damage the seedlings. If storage temperatures exceed 40–50°F for several days, the vigor of seedlings in bags is reduced. Consequently, do not store seedlings packaged in bags or boxes for more than 4 weeks without cold storage.

Warm air temperatures will limit safe shed storage time. Allowing storage temperatures to reach 80°F can result in the development of mold on seedling roots, initiating decay. Mold may be detected by the presence of fungal hyphae (spiderweb-like strands around the seedling roots) and a musty smell when the packages are opened.

If seedlings freeze, let them completely thaw before attempting to separate and plant. Immersing frozen seedlings in cool water for short periods helps speed thawing. (Do not soak for more than an hour.) Freeze-damaged root systems will appear limp and discolored, and root tips will easily slough off in handling. Discard seedlings that have suffered freeze damage. Longleaf pine seedlings are likely to be killed if frozen.

Table 5. Grading standards for southern pine seedlings.[2]


Height (inches)

Root collar (inches)

Condition of stem


Winter bud

Loblolly and

slash pine



stiff, woody

2s and 3s

usually present


8 clipped
12 unclipped


large, 2s, 3s free of brownspot

thickly scaled




stiff, woody

2s and 3s

usually present

Preparing Seedlings for Planting

Seedlings of various sizes and quality may be in your order. Some nurseries grade seedlings to a uniform size before packaging. However, many attempt to produce a uniform seedling in the nursery bed to eliminate the added expense of hand-grading after lifting. Grading before planting removes seedlings too large or too small to be planted. It also removes seedlings with broken or crushed roots and stems, missing bark, stripped roots or needles, stem swellings indicating fusiform rust, or other damage.

If the nursery did not grade your seedlings before shipping, or grading efforts were insufficient, grade seedlings in a cool, high-humidity area protected from sun and wind before they are taken to the field for planting. As seedlings are removed from packaging, dip them in water, clay, or a synthetic gel root dip to reduce drying of the roots. (Check with forestry and farm chemical dealers for gel dips.) Seedlings with roots coated with kaolin clay can stand brief periods of exposure with minimal damage to roots.

After grading, promptly repackage seedlings in their original containers with sufficient moisture, or place them in buckets or tubs with water to keep them from drying out while being transported to the field. Do not allow seedlings to sit in water for more than 1 hour. Allowing planters to grade during planting slows work and can result in cull seedlings being planted, as well as increased seedling mortality due to prolonged root exposure.

One or two people can handle grading and any necessary root pruning. Graders should know the grading standards presented in Table 5 and be aware that stem length is less important than stem root-collar diameter and root system development. Seedlings with thick, sturdy stems 6–12 inches long and well-developed root systems with five or more lateral roots have the best initial survival and growth.

An optimum root system is 6–8 inches long with at least five to seven or more strong first order lateral roots that are at least 3 inches long. Cull all seedlings with root systems less than 5–6 inches long and those with less than three strong lateral roots. If root systems are more than 8 inches long, seedlings will be difficult to plant correctly without special care and supervision.

Do not allow planting crew members to prune roots during the planting operation. This results in roots being stripped off and leads to poor survival. Prune roots with scissors, shears, a hatchet, or a machete. Make a single clean cut, removing as little of the root system as necessary. When root pruning is necessary, keep the pruned root system in balance with the top. Prune roots to no less than 8 inches in length for seedlings with tops of 8–12 inches.

Seedling Care in the Field

When transporting seedlings to the planting site, take only as many as can be planted in a day. If time and logistics permit, arrange to have seedlings delivered twice a day to the planting site. Load and transport packages carefully to avoid damage to seedlings.

Seedling damage occurs quickly with careless field storage and handling. Always provide a shaded storage area. A tarp can be erected as a canopy above the seedlings to keep direct sunlight off.
Be sure there is ample ventilation to prevent heat buildup in the packages. Temperatures exceeding 50°F inside seedling packaging can quickly cause seedling damage.

Do not lay a tarp directly over seedlings during the day as temperatures inside seedling packages can quickly exceed 50°F on sunny days, even when air temperatures are moderate. Cover seedlings left overnight in the field with a tarp to protect against freezing damage. Repair any tears or holes to seedling packaging with duct tape. Repackage seedlings as necessary. If seedlings are graded at the field site, be sure to do so in a cool, shaded spot protected from wind and sun.

When giving seedlings to planters, open and empty only one package at a time. Make sure planters carry seedlings in bags or buckets. Never allow seedlings to be hand-carried with roots exposed while planting. Have water and clay or synthetic gel dips available to keep seedling roots moist. Do not leave seedling roots in water for more than 1 hour; instead, return them to their original packaging.


The key to successful planting is the ability of the root system of the newly planted seedling to begin quickly taking up water and nutrients. Plant seedlings in moist mineral soil where moisture is immediately available. Newly planted seedlings may be unable to take up moisture in dry soils or until drainage is achieved in flooded soils. If drainage does not occur until late March or April, container-grown seedlings can be used to extend the planting season.

Depending on the site, both hand and machine planting are efficient and reliable options. Large, open tracts are more easily planted by machine; smaller or irregularly shaped tracts, sites with minimal site preparation or cutover sites, sites with high clay content, and rocky sites are more easily planted by hand.

Show planters the correct depth to plant seedlings. Planting depth will vary with soil–site conditions, but always plant seedlings to a depth at least as deep as the root collar. Shallow planting results in early seedling mortality, particularly during early spring and summer droughts. On many “old field” or “old pasture” sites, soils often possess a compacted traffic pan or plow pan near the surface. In this planting situation, subsoiling breaks up this restrictive layer to permit deeper planting. Slash, loblolly, and shortleaf pine can be planted up to 2–3 inches above the root collar, provided the planting hole is deep enough to avoid root deformation. Improper planting, resulting in J-rooting or L-rooting, slows early seedling growth. In wet soils with a high water table, plant only to 1 inch above the root collar.

Longleaf pine requires special care in planting and great attention to planting depth. Unlike other pine species, the vast majority of planted longleaf pine seedlings are containerized stock. Plant seedlings so the terminal bud is not buried and the root collar is approximately one half of an inch above the surface of the ground.

Regardless of planting method, plant seedlings at the correct spacing and depth so that roots are oriented correctly and soil is firmly packed. This eliminates air pockets. Have a written contract detailing all planting specifications, including transport and handling of seedlings, planting dates, packing, and conditions when planting is to be suspended (site too wet or dry, freezing weather, or summer-like conditions). The contract should provide for inspections during planting to ensure that quality standards are met before payment is made. This is especially important when planting with assistance of cost-share programs.

Hand Planting

A good hand-planting crew can average up to 3,000 seedlings per man-day; inexperienced crews average far less. Most planters use a dibble bar that has a blade at least 4 inches wide and 10 inches long. Seedlings can be carried in a bucket, but a planting bag is a more efficient for a planter to use. The planting bag is strapped around the planter’s waist, and will hold several hundred seedlings, and protects seedlings from sun and wind.

The planter removes one seedling at a time after the dibble has been used to open the planting slit. Do not allow planters to carry seedlings in hand while planting, as seedlings rapidly dry out. Exposure to wind and sun can kill seedlings quickly. Always provide planting bags or buckets and insist that seedlings be kept moist at all times.

Have a supervisor at the site to ensure that planting proceeds smoothly and properly. The supervisor should watch planters for poor practices, such as stripping off roots to make planting large seedlings easier, discarding seedlings to “catch up” with faster planters, shallow planting, loose packing, and carrying seedlings in hand during planting.

To ensure proper spacing, frequently check distances of planted seedlings within and between rows. Proper packing is necessary to eliminate air pockets around the roots. Check by grasping several needles at the tip of the seedling between thumb and forefinger and gently trying to pull the seedling from the soil. The needles should break if the seedling is firmly packed. A shovel can be used to dig around seedlings to check for J-rooting.

Show your planting crew the correct dibble planting technique:

Insert the dibble straight down into the soil to the full depth of the blade, and pull back on the handle to open the planting slit. (DO NOT rock the dibble back and forth, as this causes soil in the planting slit to be compacted, hindering root growth.)

Remove the dibble and push the seedling roots deep into the planting slit. Pull the seedling back up to the correct planting depth (1–3 inches above the roots to fall straight inside the planting slit). DO NOT twist or spin the seedling into the planting slit or leave the roots J-rooted.

Place the dibble several inches in front of the seedling and push the blade halfway into the soil. Twist and push the handle forward to close the top of the slit to hold the seedling in place.

Push down to the full depth of the blade and pull back on the handle, closing the bottom of the planting slit, and then push forward to close the top, eliminating air pockets around the roots.

Remove the dibble, and close and firm up the opening with your heel.

Machine Planting

When machines are correctly matched to the site and operators are trained and supervised, 7,000–9,000 or more seedlings can be planted per day. The condition of the planting site is important in selecting the proper size of machine. Old fields and cropland can be planted with light-duty planters pulled by wheeled tractors of 20–100 hp. Rough sites require the use of heavy-duty planters pulled by large farm tractors or crawler tractors of 50–350 hp.

Seedlings are planted with machines using two systems: a manual system, where the seedling is placed into the trench by hand, or an automated system, where seedlings are placed in “fingers” that then place the seedlings into the planting trench.

Frequently check planting performance to ensure proper planting, particularly when soil type, texture, moisture, or amount of harvest debris changes on the site. Maintain proper adjustment by carefully checking planting performance under actual site conditions. Adjust packing wheels to completely close the planting trench from top to bottom. Be sure seedlings are planted straight and at the proper depth. Follow the planter and use a shovel to open the planting trench to judge root placement.

L-rooting is a common problem with machine planting. Adjust the planter to open the trench to maximum depth, and make sure seedlings are placed at the proper depth and released quickly so roots are not dragged along the trench.

Planting Conditions

Carefully check the site and environmental conditions at planting time. Planting on bright, sunny, windy days in dry soil can result in increased seedling mortality. Dry soil is difficult to pack around seedling roots. When soils are too wet, especially clay soils, machine planting can result in soil compaction around seedlings, as well as other site damage.

Optimal planting conditions are when temperatures are between 35°F and 60°F with relative humidity greater than 40 percent and wind speeds less than 10 mph. When air temperatures are in the 70s and low 80s with low humidity (less than 40 percent) and wind speeds of 10 mph or greater, plant cautiously, as seedlings can quickly dry out after planting.

If the situation allows, delay planting until conditions improve, or plant in afternoon hours when seedlings will face less environmental stress. If planting must continue under these conditions, have planters carry fewer seedlings and take extra precautions to prevent them from drying out. Do not plant in freezing weather or summer-like conditions when temperatures are below 32°F or above 85°F.

Container-Grown Seedlings

Seedlings produced in containers have become increasingly available in the South. In fact, nearly all longleaf pine seedlings planted will be container-grown. Container-grown stock offers the advantage of extending the planting season compared to bareroot stock. Using container-grown seedlings, early-season planting in the South can begin in October, allowing seedlings to become established before freezing weather occurs. Planting can extend into late spring and even summer on sites that may be too wet to plant during the fall or winter with bareroot seedlings. The protected root systems of container-grown seedlings reduce the damage associated with lifting, storing, and planting bareroot seedlings.

Seedlings are best stored in their containers where they are protected from root damage and drying out. Protect them from freezing, as root plugs can easily freeze. The limited soil volume of the container makes  seedlings susceptible to drying out in sunny and windy conditions. Store in partial shade, and water frequently to maintain adequate moisture throughout storage and planting.

Container-grown seedlings may be machine- or hand-planted, but, in both methods, it is critical that the planting hole be deep enough to cover the top of the root plug completely with soil. If the top of the root plug is not covered with soil, it will rapidly dry out, and the seedling will die. (This also reduces the possibility of frost heaving of fall-planted seedlings.) Take special care when planting container-grown longleaf pine seedlings. If planted too deeply, the bud will be covered; if planted too shallowly, the root plug will be exposed, which rapidly dries out the rooting media. Typically, longleaf pine seedlings should be planted with approximately one half of an inch of the plug above the ground surface.

Evaluating Planted Stands

Survival and stocking are two important factors in evaluating the success of your planting efforts. Survival is the number of planted seedlings alive at the time of your observations. It is best estimated by establishing permanently marked plots soon after planting. Seedlings are then counted at the end of the first growing season and compared to the initial number of seedlings in plots. Ten to 20 well-distributed plots are usually sufficient for survival estimates.

Stocking represents the number and distribution of living seedlings across the plantation. This information is used to determine whether replanting a portion or the entire stand is necessary. A systematic sampling system is the best way to sample stocking. The number of live trees is counted in fixed-area plots, usually circular plots. These plots are uniformly spaced across the plantation. Plots of 1/50 acre to 1/100 acre in size are convenient.

You need 40–60 plots to get accurate estimates of first-year stocking, regardless of plantation size. Orient sample plots on lines that cross the planting rows throughout the entire plantation.


If the survey reveals that at least 300 seedlings per acre are evenly distributed over the plantation at the end of the first growing season, replanting or interplanting will not be necessary. If there are large areas with poor stocking, these areas can be replanted. Some additional site preparation may be required.

Avoid interplanting skips within rows. Newly planted seedlings do not compete favorably with established older seedlings. Interplants seldom add to the volume production at harvest, and the added investment cost for seedlings and planting will not be recovered.

If you attempt interplanting, plant no closer than 20 feet to an established seedling. Interplanting may be required in stands established under federal incentive programs to meet minimum stocking requirements. If so, spot herbicide treatments for weed control around interplants may aid their survival and growth.


Balmer, W.E., and H.L. Williston. 1974. Guide for Planting the Southern Pines. USDA For. Ser., Southeastern Area State and Private Forestry Publ.

Ezell, A.W. 1987. “Hand vs. Machine Planting.” Forest Farmer, 47(1).

Fisher, R.F. 1981. “Soils Interpretations for Silviculture on the Southeastern Coastal Plain,” Proceedings of the First Biennial Southern Silvicultural Research Conference. USDA For. Ser. GTR SO-34.

Jefferies, K.F. 1982. “Operational Guidelines for Handling Seedlings,” Proceedings: 1982 Southern Nursery Conference. USDA For. Serv., R8-TP 4.

Lantz, C.W. 1987. “Which Southern Pine Species Is Best For Your Site?” Forest Farmer, 47(1).

May, J.T. 1986. “Seedling Quality, Grading, Culling, and Counting,” Southern Pine Nursery Handbook. USDA For. Ser., Southern Region Cooperative Forestry Publ.

May, J.T. 1986. “Packing, Storage, and Shipping,” Southern Pine Nursery Handbook. USDA For. Ser. Southern Region Cooperative Forestry Publ.

Rousseau, R.J. 2017. What Are Genetically Improved Seedlings? MSU-ES Publication 2617. 4p.

South, D.B. and J.G. Mexal. 1984. Growing the “Best” Seedling for Reforestation Success. Forestry Dept. Series No. 12. Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, Auburn University.

Wakely, P.C. 1954. Planting the Southern Pines. USDA For. Ser. Agri. Monograph 18. 233p.

Xydias, G.K., R.D. Sage, J.D. Hodges, and D.M. Moehring. 1983. “Establishment, Survival, and Tending of Slash Pine,” The Managed Slash Pine Ecosystem. School of Forest Resources and Conservation, Univ. Florida. Gainesville, FL.

The information given here is for educational purposes only. References to commercial products, trade names, or suppliers are made with the understanding that no endorsement is implied and that no discrimination against other products or suppliers is intended.


Publication 1776 (POD-05-19)

Revised by Brady Self, PhD, Associate Extension Professor, Forestry, from an earlier edition by Andrew W. Ezell, PhD, Professor and Head, Forestry. Front page photographs courtesy of Andrew Ezell, PhD, and Randy Rousseau, PhD, Mississippi State University and USDA Forest Service,

Copyright 2019 by Mississippi State University. All rights reserved. This publication may be copied and distributed without alteration for nonprofit educational purposes provided that credit is given to the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Produced by Agricultural Communications.

Mississippi State University is an equal opportunity institution. Discrimination in university employment, programs, or activities based on race, color, ethnicity, sex, pregnancy, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, genetic information, status as a U.S. veteran, or any other status protected by applicable law is prohibited. Questions about equal opportunity programs or compliance should be directed to the Office of Compliance and Integrity, 56 Morgan Avenue, P. O. 6044, Mississippi State, MS 39762, (662) 325-5839.

Extension Service of Mississippi State University, cooperating with U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published in furtherance of Acts of Congress, May 8 and June 30, 1914. GARY B. JACKSON, Director


[1] Adapted from Fisher (1981).

[2] Adapted from Wakely (1954) and May (1986).

How to Plant White Pine Trees


If at all possible, we urge you to plant these marvelous seeds and seedlings with your children, your grandchildren, borrowed neighbor children and young people at outdoor and wilderness tripping camps. It’s increasingly easy for kids to assume that everything comes from a factory, or that “someone else” will take care of our future needs for a healthy planet, replenishment of raw materials, clean air, clean water, and natural places to go for relaxation and recreation that are not “built” environments. It might just be that the hands-on experience of planting several trees – making holes in the ground, placing seeds or seedlings in the dirt, covering them and hoping they will grow – will impart some “ownership” to kids doing this with you. They are the ones who can most affect the future for everyone, and so a sense of “ownership” in trees, in forests, in the idea that you CAN grow your own, in wilderness, in “effort in equals result out” could have major impact. This is also a wonderful and rare opportunity for older and younger generations to talk, to discuss what might be important to both groups. We hope the planting experience with kids produces trees AND great conversations.



• First of all, do believe that ANYONE can successfully plant trees! It doesn’t take any special skill – just some time, a bit of effort and common sense. Believe also that planting trees can be both fun while doing it and immensely rewarding as time goes on and they grow and grow and grow. I have sugar maples that are 40’ tall, white spruce that are 50’ tall and red pine (planted just 8 years ago) that are already 16’ tall. I planted every one of them by hand, and the satisfaction every time I see them is huge. The maples are now giving us sap each spring that we boil down and make into maple syrup. How fun is that?

• White pine grow best among other trees where the overhead canopy density is roughly 40 – 60%. However, they will grow very slowly in deep shade – they need an “opening” in the upper story to let sun down and to grow up through. They do adequately-to-quite-well in direct open sun if you are reforesting a clearing or a burned area.

• White pine are okay being somewhat solitary, unlike red pine which like to be in groups. Plant whites at least 30’ apart which is minimum spacing for mature trees. Or plant more densely and plan to thin out the weaker trees later on. Try to avoid creating a tree “monoculture” where all trees are the same and thus much easier for disease and deer to attack. There is always some disease, pest or predator working away at every species of tree somewhere. It’s really important to have diversity of species in any woods so that one organism cannot wipe out the entire forest. Plant whites – but also plant other native northern species in the same area so your forest is “multi-cultural”.

• Some folks plant a small triangle of seeds or seedlings – about 12″ – 15” apart – instead of just one. The idea is that one might not germinate or take root, one might grow poorly, and one will be the best. Plan to thin the triangle when it becomes obvious which tree is the strongest.

• Seeds, seedlings and potted trees MUST be planted in “mineral soil” – what the pros call “dirt”, and the sandier the better. Most northern forest floors have a top layer of “duff” – often 2″ – 5” of a lightweight blend of pine needles, molding leaves, dust, twigs, etc. Under that is either rock or dirt. Pick spots where the dirt is deep and wide enough to contain a full root system ten to twenty years out. Conifer roots grow outward at least to their “drip line”– where water would drip off the tree’s outermost branch tips. This sideways growth gives the tree lateral stability against wind and heavy snow or ice. They do not have “tap roots” (hardwoods do) that grow downward since they’d hit bedrock in most northern places.

• In order for mature trees to be a most effective seed-scattering source, they should be planted 100’ or more apart in order to cover more area. In the wild, try to avoid planting at campsites, on portages or along shorelines. By moving away from these easily reached sites and well into the woods you get the new trees to places of greater shelter and greater reseeding effectiveness.

• Make sure the dirt area chosen has natural access to moisture. If the dirt you clear or dig is bone dry today, it is likely to be so in the future. Plant in relatively or potentially moist soil. Whites like sandy, moderately moist soil best, so avoid moisture extremes like low, wet areas or dry hilltops.

• Plant a safe distance (a mature tree-length) away from cabins, buildings, tent sites, etc. Tall whites are often hit by lightning (which often jumps sideways too) and they can do awesome damage when they are blown over.

• Avoid planting where other whites already show blister rust or weevil signs (see “Aftercare” section) or any obvious stress. Rust infection is most likely in small forest openings, topographic depressions and at bases of slopes. Avoid areas with large deer populations unless you plan to use bud caps, fencing or other deer deterrents each fall (see “Aftercare”).

• Plant a nursery. You may want to take a cleared area and plant rows of seeds or seedlings maybe only 12” – 24” apart. Let them grow for 2 – 4 or more years and transplant the small trees to sites needing them. Have the new holes already dug and the soil wet. Lift each new tree with a spade (never by the trunk or stem). Get almost all of the roots and the dirt it has been growing in. Carry the tree in the shovel to the new hole and set it in with the trunk at the same soil level as it was at its old site. Make sure there are no air pockets in the dirt around the roots and tamp the dirt down. Ideally transplants should get a lot of water for several weeks if possible, though many will survive on their own.

• Record the sites where you planted, the soil and moisture conditions, methods used and subsequent weather. Compare sites, methods and weather next year to see what worked best in your location(s).

• Don’t expect “instant” trees. Seeds planted in spring might be tiny “puff balls” of needles by late fall. Both seeds and seedlings will grow very slowly the first several years – only inches per year as they acclimatize to their new surroundings. By year 6 – 8 or so they will start adding a foot a year – then a foot and a half. Seeds planted from August on may show tiny shoots or nothing at all the first year. Seeds planted from October on won’t even germinate until the next spring.

• Please source your seeds and seedlings as close to the place you will plant them as possible. Specifically ask commercial providers where their stock comes from. This both helps ensure that your trees will grow well in that climate, soil and location, and will prevent introduction of new species or specie variations not native to that region. To reforest in the best possible “native species” fashion, collect white pine cones from trees already in your chosen area, dry the seeds and then plant those seeds very close to the same place, just as nature might have done.

Note: Most seeds will keep for a year or more if they are dry (in a double plastic bag) and in the dark and cold of your refrigerator.

• Plant freely on your own private property. Do be sure to ask permission when planting at your neighbor’s, in common areas, in fields and forests and everywhere it seems white pine should be. Contact the US Forest Service District Silviculturist or reforestation expert in your area for help finding the best places to plant. Contact information for northern Minnesota:

Laurentian Ranger District (Aurora, MN) 218-229-8800
Gunflint Ranger District (Grand Marais, MN) 218-387-1750
Kawishiwi Ranger District (Ely, MN) 218-365-7600
LaCroix Ranger District (Cook, MN) 218-666-0020
Tofte Ranger District (Tofte, MN) 218-663-8060

NOTE: Do NOT plant anything in any part of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness or Voyageurs National Park. Both sites have firm rules against any such human intervention in natural processes. However, we have been encouraged by the Superior National Forest to plant appropriate species anywhere within the Superior National Forest EXCEPT in the part which is the BWCAW.


AFTERCARE – Will Reduce Mortality

It may seem strange that it helps to “garden the forest” but, if you are near your planted trees, here are several things you can do to help them reach that vital “maturity” stage where they are producing cones and seeds themselves:

• “Release” them often. Twice or thrice a summer, use clippers to prune back other competing brush, weeds and treelets. Ideally, keep your new white pines in a freed circle 2’ – 3’ in diameter – some experts say more like 9’ – 10’. Clip branches immediately overhead as well to let sunlight and air in.

• “Prune Up” the bottom branches of each tree once it reaches maybe a foot or more tall. Leave at least two-thirds of the tree volume intact, but get every single bottom branch because blister rust thrives in small, damp areas and those low branches touching or near the ground or duff collect and retain rain and dew long after the higher branches have dried. Move the clipped branches away from the trunk so they don’t keep moisture right there, but you do not need to fully remove or burn your prunings. Clip each branch just outside its raised “bud collar” ring with a clean cut straight up and down.

• Blister Rust will cause brown needles and raised, sometimes oozy blisters on branches and eventually on the trunk. Prune diseased branches immediately and well inboard (12” or more) of any disease signs. Pruned branches do not need to be removed from the area nor your clippers sterilized. The cranberry/gooseberry family (“ribes”) of bushes serves as the “vector” for the blister rust virus, so the likelihood of white pine surviving in an area of many such bushes is not good and most experts consider removing the vector to be impossible. Plant elsewhere.

• White Pine Weevil: The weevil lays its eggs in the leader shoot of the white pine where the larvae hatch and grow in late spring and early summer. Their presence is obvious because the leader shoot needles turn brown. Immediately remove the leader a good foot below the last browned needles and BURN IT at once to kill the larvae. Soon a nearby side branch will begin growing upwards and become the new leader shoot. That tree will survive.

• Deer Browse Damage: If deer nibble off the leader shoot and bud, prune the leader with a clean cut if it is damaged. A side branch will soon grow upwards to become the new leader. If this happens again, think hard about bud caps or other deterrents (see below).

• “Bud Caps”: Once a tree is about 6” tall you can apply bud caps in late September to keep deer from browsing off the top leader bud. Any kind of office-type paper 2.3” x 4.3” or so works fine. You can cut an 8.5” x 14” sheet in half the long way and then each strip into 6 sections. Fold the paper around the leader, putting your index finger in the fold and over the bud from the top. The bud should be 1/2″ below the cap’s top. Use any office stapler to hold the cap in place by catching several needles in the staple but leaving room for bud growth. Remove the caps each spring. Once the tree’s leader is over 5’ tall, caps are no longer needed.

• See Rajala, Jack: “Bringing Back The White Pine”, THE definitive book on planting and caring for these wonderful trees. Out of print but available in many area libraries. An article on Jack Rajala appears in the 2008 Spring edition of the Quetico Superior Foundation’s newsletter Wilderness News and is reprinted on our web site (

planting time, distance between pines, soil preparation, care after planting

Evergreen culture grows in various climatic zones, adapts to a variety of weather conditions. Despite the unpretentiousness in care, it is important to know how to plant a pine so that it takes root in a new place. The culture is planted on the site in order to green the landscape, create a hedge, an alpine hill, and strengthen steep slopes.

How to plant a pine

Agrotechnics for growing a plant is the same for all species and varieties of a given crop, but there may be slight differences for some varieties. Pine planting should be carried out in accordance with all recommendations for the selected variety, since the plant is not demanding for care, but may not take root in a new place. It is important to create favorable conditions for cultivation, to help adapt.

To successfully plant Scots pine you should:

  1. Observe the recommended landing time
  2. Choosing the right seedling
  3. Prepare a suitable site
  4. Land according to the landing pattern
  5. The first time to take care of the tree

The culture is propagated by sowing seeds, cuttings, grafting. The first option is most preferable, but it is desirable to grow a young plant for 1-2 years at home. Cuttings do not always end successfully, and grafting the desired variety onto a young tree requires skill and skill. The easiest and fastest way is to plant a ready-made seedling from a store or dug out in the forest.

Landing time

The period of active growth is not suitable for transplanting, since damage to the root system, lack of moisture will greatly weaken the plant. This time can be determined by the beginning of the growth of young shoots and until the end of lignification. For this reason, planting should be carried out in spring or autumn. Depending on the region, plant from mid-April to early May or late August - mid-September. It is necessary to give the tree time to take root in a new place, to take root.

Seedling selection

The root system must be completely closed, so you should buy trees in containers.

You can buy planting material at a nursery, garden store, or dig your own. It is advisable to choose pine seedlings for planting no older than 5 years, since young plants take root easier. The root system must be completely closed, so you should buy trees in containers. By purchasing seedlings with open roots without the soil in which they grew, there is a risk of death after transplantation. A useful microflora lives in an earthen coma, consisting in symbiosis with a plant, without which the pine tree will lose access to nutrients and die. Of course, it is also present on the roots themselves, but with access to fresh air for more than 15 minutes, the bacteria die.

Site selection and preparation

For planting pine on the site, choose an open sunny location. Partial shade is acceptable, especially young trees need it to protect themselves from the scorching sun in summer.

Coniferous crops are not demanding on the soil, they can grow even on sandy, poor in nutrients. Waterlogging should not be allowed, therefore, when groundwater is close, pine should be planted on a slight elevation.

Prepare a hole in the open ground in advance so that after purchasing a seedling, immediately plant it. Dig deep holes (up to 0.8-1 m), pour drainage from expanded clay, broken brick, gravel or other improvised material with a layer of about 30 cm to the bottom. Next, black soil or a mixture of garden soil, sand or peat, well-rotted manure or compost . Fresh manure cannot be used, because it inhibits the growth of the pine root system and causes a burning process.

Landing pattern

In landscape design, the composition of the future flower garden or hedge is known in advance. Depending on the species and variety, the landing distance is selected individually. For tall and spreading trees, 3-5 m should be left, for low ones - at least 1 m. When using dwarf species in an alpine hill, thickening standards for neighboring crops should be taken into account.

Do not clean off the earthen clod, lower it along with it, sprinkling with fertile soil.

Pine should be planted immediately after purchase in a prepared hole. Do not clean off the earthen ball, lower it along with it, sprinkling it with fertile soil. Be sure not to cover the root neck with earth, otherwise the seedling will die. Compact the surface of the soil a little, form near-trunk circles, water abundantly. Top with straw, dry needles, peat.

Care after landing

Growing a crop on a personal plot will not be difficult, since special care is not required for pine due to its unpretentiousness. The exception is the first 2-3 years after transplantation. More demanding are decorative varieties used to create flower-coniferous compositions.

Pine care includes:

  • Watering
  • Top dressing
  • Weeding
  • Trimming
  • Warming before winter frosts

Plantings should be periodically reviewed for signs of infection or pest damage. As a preventive measure, coniferous crops in spring or autumn should be treated with copper sulphate.


Additional moisture is required only when the seedling is rooting. It is enough to water 1-2 times a week for a month, then atmospheric precipitation is enough. In the southern regions, it is recommended to water during prolonged hot weather, but this is not necessary. An adult tree with a developed root system does not need additional moisture. Falling needles around the plant naturally create a layer of mulch that retains moisture in the soil.

Top dressing

Fertilization is needed only for the growth and development of shoots in the spring. Carrying out the procedure in the fall is dangerous, because young branches will not have time to lignify before winter. The lack of nutrients is manifested by yellowing of the needles, stunted growth, and loss of decorative effect. The composition of the complex supplement should include magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Nitrogen-containing top dressings, manure, herbal infusions are not allowed, cause chlorosis, death of growth points. In caring for creeping pine and large trees, it is better not to feed them than to oversaturate the soil with fertilizer.


There should be no weeds around the seedling, as they are carriers of diseases, a habitat for pests.

As the tree matures, young pines will begin to grow from the seeds. They should be dug up in a timely manner so as not to interfere with the development of the mother tree. All the same, without a transplant, they will die in the shade. It is desirable to carry out weeding after watering, so as not to injure the pine root system.


In the spring, before the formation of young shoots, dry, frost-bitten, affected by infections and pests branches should be broken off.

Caring for large plants involves cutting branches by ⅓ every 2 years to form a fluffy crown, reduce the height of an adult plant. The procedure is carried out when the embryos of new needles grow to the maximum, but you need to have time before the needles begin to fluff, approximately in June. Treat the cut site with garden pitch or blue vitriol. Decorative varieties often do not need pruning. Some types of mountain pine can be used to create curly compositions. In the spring, before the formation of young shoots, dry, frost-bitten branches affected by infections and pests should be broken off.


In mid-August, top dressing should be stopped so that young shoots do not form. Otherwise, they will not have time to become woody before winter and will die, which will negatively affect the entire plant. After the deciduous trees drop their leaves, water the pine tree with 5-8 buckets of water. This is done so that when the plant wakes up, it has enough moisture, to protect it from burning the needles. Young seedlings need to be covered with spruce branches to protect them from frost and heavy snowfalls that can break off fragile branches. A layer of crumbled pine needles must be left to protect the root system. Additionally, trunk circles can be mulched with loose organic matter with a layer of 5 cm.

You should prepare for planting a pine tree in advance by selecting and preparing a place, taking into account agrotechnical recommendations. Dig up a seedling yourself with a large clod of earth or purchase it from a nursery. The culture is unpretentious for care, but the first 2-3 years, performing simple manipulations will help grow a healthy and strong plant.

Be sure to read:

planting and caring for seedlings in the area


  • 1 Is it possible to plant a pine tree near the house
  • 2 What pine is planted on the site
  • 3 Where to plant a pine tree in the section
  • 4 Poster planting dates
  • 5 How to plant a pine tree in the section
    • 5.1, preparation of soil for planting pines
    • 5.2 Planting pine seedlings
    • 5.3 at which one distance to plant pine trees
    • 5.4 What can be planted under a pine tree in a country house
  • 6 Is it possible to plant a felled pine tree
  • 7 Features of planting a pine tree from the forest
  • 8 How to care for pine
    • 8.1 How to water pine
      • 8.1.1 How often to water pine
      • 8.1.2 How to water pine
    • 8.2 Feeding
    • 8.3 Loosening
    • 8.4 Formation of pines
    • 8. Protection from diseases and pests
    • 8. 6 Preparing for winter
  • 9 How to save pine seedlings until spring
  • 10 Propagation
  • 11 Growing pines as a business
  • 12 Conclusion

Pine is considered a symbol of health and longevity: in a pine forest, the air is saturated with phytoncides — biologically active substances that have a beneficial effect on the human body. For this reason, many people try to plant a pine seedling near their home in order to constantly use a natural inhaler and create a unique, healthy microclimate in their place of residence. It is necessary to clearly understand where and how to plant a pine tree in a summer cottage, what care should be in the future, so that the plant develops correctly and serves as a good addition to the landscape.

Is it possible to plant a pine near the house

Scots pine is an evergreen tree with a spreading dense crown. It grows rapidly in poor sandy soils and reaches a height of 30 meters. This is worth considering if it is decided to plant a pine tree in the courtyard of the house. The peculiarity of the tree is that it dries up the soil. With a lack of moisture, its roots can go to depth, but much depends on the quality and nature of the soil. A tall pine serves as a target for lightning in a thunderstorm, so it can become a source of fire and danger to others.

Experts advise against planting a tree close to home. In adulthood, it has a strong root system that can damage or even destroy the foundation. The distance from the pine tree planted in the garden to the house should be at least 5 meters.

Coniferous crops are attacked by pests (bark beetles, mealybugs) or suffer from specific species diseases. The fight comes down to the use of insecticides. In the event that the drugs do not help, the infected tree is removed entirely.

It is necessary to carefully determine the planting sites, select the varieties that meet the needs, regularly carry out the necessary agrotechnical measures with the trees.

What kind of pine to plant on the site

Do not give up the idea of ​​planting a pine in the country or near the house because of the height that it reaches in adulthood. There are undersized varieties that have the same cleansing, bactericidal, healing properties as their tall relatives:

  • Scotch pine of the Fastigiata variety has a pyramidal shape, reaches a maximum height of 15 meters. It is very compact, easily fits into any garden, so it is ideal for planting in small areas;
  • Variety Vatereri has an egg-shaped crown, its average height is 4 meters. The tree grows slowly, loves sunny areas, tolerates wintering well;
  • Mountain pine is a small branched shrub, harmoniously combined in design with larches and birches. The plant is undemanding to the soil, resistant to diseases and pests, winters well after planting;
  • Compact variety is small, up to 5 meters, with a variety of ground cover dwarf forms creeping along the ground. Annual growth after planting is only 10 cm;
  • Cedar dwarf - has widely spread branches. The maximum height of the plant is 4 m. The needles are very beautiful, collected in bunches of five pieces. Trees look more spectacular in group plantings;

The listed varieties can successfully grow throughout the Russian Federation, easily enduring heat, frost, snowfall, drought. Pine trees in the Moscow region, Novosibirsk, Krasnodar look great and feel good.

Where to plant a pine tree on the site

Pine trees are unpretentious trees that can grow on poor soils. The best soils for planting are sandy and sandy. On organically rich land, peatlands, limestones, conifers, surprisingly, do not grow well. Mediterranean and American varieties do well in rich soils, but their shoots do not have time to ripen, so there is a high probability of freezing without shelter. Alpine species prefer planting in alkaline soils with a high lime content.

Pine is a light-loving plant, for which any place is suitable, if it is located in an illuminated area. Then the tree grows spreading, with a dense crown. In the shade, the plant stretches upward, its lower branches dry up and die.

The best planting site is the south side of the house or garage.

Pine planting dates

The ideal time for planting pine trees in autumn will be late September-early October, in spring - late April - early May. There is a technology for transplanting in winter, but this requires special equipment.

In summer, during the period of active growth, such manipulations are not recommended because of the need for a large amount of water for the roots of the plant, as well as its formation and lignification of shoots that have not yet ended.

Planting pine in spring is the best option, because in this case the plant will have time to take root and prepare for winter before autumn.

In autumn all processes slow down in the trees, the survival is painless.

In winter, pine planting is possible only if the seedling is further covered with spruce branches or special material.

How to properly plant a pine tree on a site

The process of planting a pine tree from a nursery includes a number of activities:

  • site selection;
  • determination of soil type and acidity;
  • mixing of substrate constituents;
  • preparing a hole for planting a tree;
  • seedling selection;
  • landing;
  • top dressing;
  • watering;
  • mulching;
  • shading;
  • garter if required.

Soil preparation for planting pine

The substrate should be prepared according to the preferences of conifers. They love breathable, moisture-intensive, with an acidic soil reaction. During planting, it is worth mixing high-moor peat, fallen needles with the soil (in a ratio of 1: 2: 1). Next, add 100 g of fresh sawdust and 8 g of garden sulfur to the substrate.

In the future, it is necessary to monitor the acidity and keep it at the level of 4 units. To this end, every spring it is recommended to mulch the soil with sawdust, feed it with acidic fertilizers, and water it with acidified water (1 tsp of citric acid per 3 liters of water). These activities after planting the pine in the ground create optimal conditions for its growth.

Planting pine seedlings

When planting, it is necessary to make a hole, in the form of a cone or an inverted pyramid. For a seedling no more than 70 cm tall, a pit 60 by 60 cm is enough. If the soil in the area is dense, clayey, the pit needs to be deepened by 30 cm - to create drainage at the bottom of expanded clay, sand, broken brick, pebbles. It is necessary to add universal fertilizer to the pit - 100 g per seedling, spill the planting site with water (6 liters per pit). The root neck of the seedling must be above ground level, otherwise the plant may die. The correct location of the neck is easier to achieve if the seedling has a clod of earth on the roots. The tree must be strictly vertical. Add soil if necessary. Watering pines after planting is required. Due to the supply of water, the roots and soil are in better contact, the seedling recovers faster. To preserve moisture, the soil must be mulched with any improvised material. A frame or support will be useful to the plant during strong winds and bad weather.

At what distance to plant pine trees

Maintaining the distance between pine trees during planting is a prerequisite for proper agricultural practices. If tall varieties are planted, then the minimum distance between the trees should be 4 - 5 meters, for undersized varieties a gap of 1.5 meters is sufficient.

It is worth considering that planting tall trees is allowed no closer than 4 meters to the border with neighbors, no closer than 1 m to the carriageway of common roads, and 5 m from the residential buildings of the site. Pine trees cannot be located under power lines if their crowns interfere supply of energy. The minimum distance from gas and water pipes must be maintained at a distance of at least 2 m.

What can be planted under a pine tree in a country house

Coniferous litter increases the acidity of the soil under trees, so it is possible to plant plants near them that love this type of soil.

Shade-tolerant rhododendrons fit harmoniously into the design. Petiole hydrangea, parthenocissus feel good under pine trees: for these vines, the tree is a support. Ground cover wintergreen grows well on acidic soil. At the base of the pines, various types of hostas look good and develop. Planting under coniferous species of snowberry, bergenia, fern, lilies of the valley looks original.

Is it possible to plant a felled pine tree

Recently, during the New Year holidays, many people use pine trees instead of traditional Christmas trees. It is possible to give a cut down tree a chance for further life, but the process of rooting and planting will be quite complicated, painstaking, and in most cases the result is not guaranteed. To carry out such an event, you need:

  1. Choose a low tree (1.5 m) with green needles and flexible branches.
  2. Saw off a couple of centimeters from the trunk at the base.
  3. Soak saw cut in root growth stimulator solution.
  4. Tie it with a damp cloth, leave the pine on the balcony until the New Year.
  5. Put the tree in a container with wet river sand.
  6. Spray branches with growth stimulator.
  7. Keep tree away from heaters.
  8. Roots and new shoots should appear in two weeks.
  9. Water with growth stimulants.
  10. If the tree is green in April and is growing, it can be planted.

Peculiarities of planting pine from the forest

In order for the pine selected in the forest to take root after planting, its height should be from 60 to 120 cm, and its age should be about 4 years, the trunk should be even, the branches should be alternate . After choosing a tree, you should dig it around the trunk at a distance of 50 cm to such a depth that the largest clod of earth is extracted with roots.

Planting is best done in early spring, but plant survival will depend on climate and care. Fertilizers must be applied to the hole corresponding to the size of the coma, then the plant should be placed there, pour the prepared soil and water abundantly. At the same time, it is necessary to maintain soil moisture.

How to care for pine

Thanks to the well-developed root system of pine, as well as undemanding soil, it can grow in any conditions, including rocky and mountainous areas. Pine planting and care are not difficult and are as follows:

  • top dressing - during planting and in the next 3 years;
  • watering - the first 2 years until full rooting;
  • loosening - during weeding;
  • mulching - after planting;
  • pruning - to slow growth and crown formation;
  • control of diseases, pests - carried out by timely treatment with appropriate insecticides;
  • preparation for winter - protection of young seedlings from frost.

How to properly water a pine tree

As an adult, pine trees easily tolerate the lack of watering, especially since the fallen needles mulch the soil and retain moisture in it. The exception is the Rumelian pine, which belongs to moisture-loving plants, requiring repeated watering per season (20 liters per plant).

Pine watering in autumn is necessary for seedlings that have been planted recently. If the soil is moist, the plant freezes less, its needles do not burn in the spring, since the roots nourish the entire tree with moisture.

How often to water pine

The watering requirement depends on the age of the tree. Immediately after planting, young seedlings require weekly watering. The roots will not suffocate in the water if the drainage is done well.

It is enough to moisten a rooted tree three times per season. In summer, it will be useful to water the pines by sprinkling at sunset, when there is no active evaporation. This procedure allows them to more easily transfer the sultry dry air.

How to water pine trees

After planting, up to three buckets of warm, settled water are poured under young trees at a time. Mature plants require 5 - 10 buckets per watering.

When the acidity of the soil decreases, it is worth carrying out periodic watering with a solution of citric acid or vinegar.

Do not neglect periodic liquid feeding of plants, which contribute to their rapid development.

Top dressing

Top dressing of mature pine is optional. But if it was carried out, then the tree looks more well-groomed, grows more actively. An ideal fertilizer would be compost - decomposed organic waste. It is similar in composition to soil. To apply it, it is necessary to loosen the near-stem circle, add the composition, mix it with the soil.

Attention! It must be remembered that the roots of the plant are close to the surface, so loosening should be done with caution.

Fertilizing with mineral fertilizers is carried out once a year, according to the instructions. They are scattered around the entire near-stem circle, pouring abundantly after that with water. Fertilization in the fall is not recommended, so as not to provoke the growth of new shoots that do not have time to mature by the winter cold.

Loosening and mulching

While the pine tree is in the stage of a young weak plant, its tree trunk area must be kept clean. This requires regular inspections and weeding. Weeds can harbor pests that are carriers of diseases. Weeding is accompanied by shallow loosening, so as not to touch the roots of a young tree. Loosening should be combined with mulching with peat, bark, leaves. With such care, the soil does not dry out for a long time, and the number of weeds is significantly reduced.

Pine shaping

Pine shape can be adjusted. With an asymmetrical or not entirely harmonious development of tree branches, it can be aesthetically pruned.

For crown density in May-June, it is worth pinching the tips of young shoots. Due to this, the juices of the plant are redirected to the formation of lateral shoots, and the growth of the central ones will stop.

Sanitary pruning is carried out in spring, dry or damaged branches are removed.

The clippers used in this operation must be sharp, disinfected. Sections must be treated with copper sulphate or garden pitch. One pruning should not remove more than a third of the green mass of the crown.

Protection against diseases and pests

Damage to the bark, needles, change in their color indicates the onset of the disease or the presence of pests. With the onset of spring, it is worth inspecting the tree in order to detect these signs. Among the most common pests are observed:

  • hermes - its colonies resemble cotton wool, while the needles turn yellow;
  • sawfly - shoots turn red, branches lose their needles;
  • bark beetle - a beetle that eats holes in wood, is able to destroy a tree in a month.

Pest control is carried out with insecticides. In case of ineffectiveness of the preparations, the trees are destroyed.

Pine diseases include:

  • schütte - when brown spots appear, needles fall off;
  • rust - characterized by orange spots, swellings on the needles.

To prevent diseases for preventive purposes, coniferous plants can be treated in autumn with Bordeaux mixture.

Preparing for winter

A young plant with a weak root system that needs protection after planting. To this end, before frost, the trunk circle must be covered with a thick (up to 10 cm) layer of peat. This maintains a comfortable temperature and moisture.

You can protect seedlings from frost in the northern regions of the country by covering them with spruce branches. In the spring, conifers often suffer from the bright sun, in which they get burned. For protection, a special non-woven covering material or mesh is also used. This creates a shadow and prevents the pine from being damaged.

How to save pine seedlings until spring

Unlike deciduous seedlings, coniferous species are not stored in the cellar until spring planting. It is enough to dig them in the garden directly in containers. The place should be protected from the sun, wind, the roots of the seedlings should be in moist soil, which must be covered with peat or earth from above. Next, they should be covered with polyethylene to avoid getting wet, and the crown with a non-woven covering material.

If the soil is frozen and it is not possible to dig in the seedlings, they can be placed in a box, covered with sawdust or peat, put in a cold room. In this case, the crowns do not need to be covered, and the box itself should be insulated from above and below with a cloth, felt or rags. The soil in the containers must be moist.


The most commonly used method of propagating pine trees is seeds. It provides for two methods - with an open (sowing directly into the ground) and a closed (in a personal container) root system. The second method is more reliable, since the plant is not injured during planting.

Vegetative propagation consists in rooting pine shoots. But the process is very unreliable: the cuttings do not give roots well.

The dividing method is suitable for pine varieties with multiple trunks.

Propagation by grafting is possible. As a rootstock, four-year-old seedlings are used. In this case, the plant retains the properties of the pine from which the graft was taken.

Growing pine trees as a business

Growing pine trees for sale is considered a profitable business, characterized by minimal financial and labor costs. The first profit is possible already two years after planting. This business is suitable for both gardeners and businessmen. The work is simple, profitable, but seasonal. To begin with, you will need a plot of at least 2 hectares, fertile land and a greenhouse. Of great importance is the choice of varieties for planting. They must meet the following criteria: