There are many dwarf evergreens to choose from, but most of them are rounded bushes, with dense growth in green or gold foliage. Sometimes a more informal, perhaps even rugged look is needed, and this is where dwarf pines come in. Pine trees have a unique look, with their soft needles radiating from the stems. Most of them grow too big for small gardens, but there are a few selected dwarf forms, that grow much more slowly, and remain compact. They retain that rugged ‘pine tree’ look to a degree, but they stay just a few feet tall. One of the most outstanding and desirable members of this interesting group is the Dwarf White Pine, a selection of the well-known native white pine tree.
Growing Dwarf White Pine Trees
This small tree grows into an irregular mound of dense branches, each ending with the typical needles of pine trees. In spring it is decorated with the attractive new shoots in a pale green color, and during the rest of the year the needles are the soft, bluish green typical of the white pine. Because of the needles, the form of this tree is more irregular than many dwarf evergreens, so it fits effectively into an informal garden. In Asian-influenced designs it makes an attractive specimen, growing in the ground or in a large container. Alone or in a group, it is an effective way to edge a bed of larger shrubs. It fits perfectly into foundation plantings around your home, where its evergreen foliage means it is always attractive, and continuously softens the hard lines of the building where it meets the ground.
The bark of this tree is smooth, except in old trees, and a soft, medium gray color. The needles are 3 to 5 inches long, and in bundles of 5. The large cones, that can be 4 to 8 inches long, are not often produced, and certainly not until trees are at least 10 years old. The evergreen needles stay on the tree for 3 years, before turning brown in late spring, after new leaves have formed, and then falling to the ground. They can be left under the tree as mulch. Depending on the growing conditions, and on what trimming has been done, after 10 years this tree will typically be 3 to 5 feet tall. It may eventually reach 7 feet, but older trees grow more by spreading sideways than growing upwards. Mature trees are usually 6 to 10 feet across, so allow for this when you plant your young tree.
Hardiness and Climate
Dwarf White Pine is a very hardy tree, growing well even in zone 3, with winter temperatures down to minus 40 degrees, but also growing well in all but the hottest parts of the country. It will grow in all kinds of soils, from acid to alkaline, and from sand to clay, just as long as the soil is well-drained. It prefers full sun, but it will also grow with a little shade for part of the day. It generally does not suffer from pests or diseases, but it grows best in areas with clean air, low in pollution.
Care and Maintenance
The form of your Dwarf White Pine can be controlled by pruning. If you want a more compact plant, with dense branches, snap part of each new shoot away before the young needles fully expand. You can also remove branches by cutting them neatly back to the stem. By pruning, a more open form can be created, suitable for Asian-themed gardens. If not pruned, plants stay leafy to the ground more or less indefinitely, especially if growing in a sunny location and not obstructed by other plants. To control any potential disease, if a dead branch is seen, remove it, but take an extra 6 to 8 inches of healthy branch at the same time. Do not leave stumps, as they will not re-sprout.
History and Origins of the Dwarf White Pine
White Pine (Pinus strobus) is an attractive North American pine tree that grows naturally throughout the northeastern United States and up into Canada. It is a tall tree, often with a clean trunk to a considerable height, and picturesque irregular upper branches. Wild trees typically grow to be 100 feet tall, and the tallest trees found were over 200 feet tall. Trees live for 200 to 400 years, and today only 1% of the wild forest that use to exist are still standing, after extensive logging, including for the masts of sailing ships.
Dwarf forms of this tree have been collected for a long time, and there is no single source of the trees we today call, ‘Nana’. All of them are very similar in growth, and our source is top-quality sturdy trees that are reliable growers, hardy and tough, and excellent examples of this tree. Dwarf White Pine is always a popular tree for gardens, so we know that our stock will soon be sold for the season. Order now or you will certainly be disappointed when you return.