The interest in native plants has been growing exponentially over the last few years, and more and more gardeners are rejecting exotic and highly-bred plants in favor of American native trees. There are about 36 different pine trees native to North America, and about a dozen are common and widespread, but in the northeast, one pine literally stands supreme – the Eastern White Pine. The tallest native conifer in the northeast, this magnificent tree is an iconic feature of the natural landscape, and a wonderful tree for any garden.
If you draw a line down the middle of the map, everything on the east, except for Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana, is the natural territory of this tree, from northern Canada to Georgia. If this is you, and even if you garden in the northwest, you can have the pleasure of growing this tree in your garden.
The Eastern White Pine has long, soft needles, between 3 and 5 inches long. Look closely and you will see they are clustered into groups of 5, with a papery wrapping around the base of each bundle. The leaves are dark green, with a characteristic bluish tone, which makes this tree easy to recognize even from a distance. After a few years your trees will start to grow cones, which are up to 8 inches long, and relatively thin. The bark is gray, and will develop deep furrows, dividing it into plates and giving a tough, rugged look you will love.
Growing Eastern White Pine Trees
The Eastern White Pine is a fast-growing tree, and after 20 years it should be about 40 feet tall. In time it will probably double that height. Wild trees are typically 75 to 100 feet tall, and in some areas even 150 feet. The fastest growth happens when your tree becomes 15 years old, and from then on, for the next 30 years, it should add about 3 feet every year. After that it will slow down again. Before we came along and logged all the original trees, they were probably even taller, possible over 200 feet, and hundreds of years old, but we can do our bit and plant more to slowly re-build those magnificent forests.
Younger trees keep their lower limbs, but one of the characteristics of this tree is the development of a tall, clean trunk for about two-thirds of the height, with a beautiful spreading high crown on a few major branches. This give the tree enormous character, and makes every single one unique, as it responds to the other trees around it, and to factors like wind speed and direction.
Uses on Your Property
In the garden there are lots of great things to do with the Eastern White Pine. Plant one or a cluster on a lawn area as specimens that will look more and more beautiful as the years go by. Plant a row as a screen along your property line – easy, tough, fast-growing and beautiful. Mix them with other evergreens and trees in a windbreak. Make them part of a project to restore part of your property to a natural state.
For something different, you might be surprised to discover that you can make a great hedge out of this tree. Plant in a row 3 to 5 feet apart, using the closer spacing for shorter hedges, and trim at least once a year. Always trim back only to areas where there are needles, as bare branches won’t re-sprout. Start trimming while the trees are young, to build a solid structure. The attractive bluish-green of the foliage will look great, and you will have a unique and handsome hedge.
If you love the idea of growing trees native to your area, instead of (or as well as) exotic trees, then you cannot be without this classic American tree. Do you have a lakeside home? Then plant these trees around it – you will be restoring the original vegetation of the area. The look of pine trees is unique and very evocative, especially when the wind rustles the needles.
Planting and Initial Care
The Eastern White Pine grows best in moist, well-drained, sandy and acidic soils, where trees will reach their greatest height. But don’t worry if this is not you – in fact this is a very adaptable tree, that will grow in most soils, except for totally flooded ones, and areas that are often dry. Water regularly during the early years, but once established this tree will be comfortable in the ordinary dryness of an average summer. No pruning is necessary, but when lower limbs begin to die, which they will do naturally as the tree matures, trim them back to the trunk.
There are few pests and diseases, but there is one disease you should look out for. If you notice small dead shoots on branches up in the crown of your tree, remove them, and take away about a foot of the growing part too. This is the early stages of white pine blister rust, which can be a serious problem. Removing those shoots early will prevent it spreading into the trunk and keep your tree safe. Fortunately, because of good management in lumber plantations, this disease is today rarely seen, and garden plantings will usually not be affected.
History and Origins of the Eastern White Pine
The Eastern White Pine, Pinus strobus, is the only 5-needle pine growing east of the Rocky Mountains. In Britain it is called Weymouth Pine, after George Weymouth, who brought it to England in 1620. Native Americans called it the Tree of Peace, and it was widely logged for the masts of sailing ships, both British and American, including the USS Constitution, because it is so tall and straight.
Our trees are grown from selected seed taken from the best mature trees. They have been grown carefully to give you the best, and they will really take off as soon as they are planted. The demand for native trees is enormous, and this is a top choice, so order now while our stock remains available.