Larger properties need larger plants, and there is great pleasure in watching a large tree develop and grow over the years. A collection of interesting trees planted on grassy areas is a fascinating way to develop a low-maintenance garden – once planted all you really need to do is mow and watch them grow. Among those trees should be some pine – majestic trees with a special aura about them. One of the best large pines to grow is native to Western North America – the Ponderosa Pine.
Ponderosa Pine is a large, upright tree with a heavy trunk that can in time become 4 feet across. In gardens it usually grows between 60 and 125 feet tall, although in the wild, trees over 225 feet tall have been found. It has a long life – up to 600 years, so planting this tree is planting for the future. There was once a much stronger tradition of planting trees for future generations – an act of faith in a better world – and planting trees on your property that will one day be majestic giants is an expression of that tradition.
Growing Ponderosa Pine Trees
Ponderosa Pine grows at a fast rate when young, adding over 12 inches in height every year. Within 10 years it will be at least 12 feet tall, and already an attractive tree. Younger trees have a broad, conical shape, with wide-spreading horizontal branches, slightly up-turned at the ends. As the tree matures it becomes more narrowly conical, and older branches turn more downwards, giving a graceful look to the tree.
Planting and Initial Care
Plant your Ponderosa Pine in an open, sunny place. It will not grow well in shade. It will grow in a wide range of soil types, but it does best in lighter, well-drained soils. Once established it is drought resistant, and if water is available in the early years, this is an excellent tree for sandy or gravelly soils. It has few significant pests and doesn’t suffer from any major pine tree diseases – and it is not even eaten by deer! It is also one of the pine tree species most tolerant of salt-spray.
When choosing a planting place, allow plenty of room for the tree to develop. Plant it at least 15 feet from any buildings or other trees. When planting a variety of trees in an open piece of ground, add together the maximum width of adjacent trees, divide this number by two, and allow at least that much space between them. That way they will be able to grow their full width without becoming entangled, and you will be able to appreciate their beauty in full.
Uses on Your Property
Ponderosa Pine is an excellent choice for any larger garden space. It looks wonderful in an informal setting, at a cottage, or at a beach house, where it will thrive in the sandy soil, without being damaged by salt spray. Use is as an informal screen or marker for your property line. Plant it with other trees in a grassy area, on a slope, or among boulders and gravel, where it will enjoy the well-drained soil conditions. This tree’s rugged character is best seen in an informal setting.
The needles of Ponderosa Pine are 5 to 10 inches long, and of a mid-green color. They are usually in bundles of three, but some trees have just 2 needles in each bundle. Needles are carried on the branches for several years, before they die and fall. If crushed, needles and branches release the classic ‘pine’ aroma. New shoots in spring are an attractive bright green color. Most pines have brighter bark when young, which darkens with age. Ponderosa Pine does things the other way around. Young trees have bark which is deep brown to black in color. The bark on mature trees is much more dramatic. The colors become bright yellow-brown to red-orange and the bark becomes deeply furrowed and develops large, roughly rectangular scaly plates.
Older trees develop cones, which are between 4 and 6 inches long. These cones take 2 years to mature. At first these are upright on the branches. As they mature they bend over, until they hang downwards, and then they open to release the seeds. Old cones stay on the trees for a considerable time.
History and Origins of the Ponderosa Pine
Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa) is a coniferous evergreen that is found growing naturally throughout western north America, from British Columbia to Mexico, and as far east as North Dakota, Nebraska and Texas. Often it grows in forests with no other tree species. It is an important source of lumber. Our trees are grown from seed collected only from the very best parent trees, and they will grow into sturdy, beautiful specimens. This tree is only infrequently available, and tree growers everywhere are on the look out for it, so order now while our limited stocks last.