By growing dwarf pine trees, you can create a beautiful landscape that all your neighbors can enjoy. These versatile conifers are effective in small gardens, in rock gardens, along foundations, and some can be used for bonsai. Pines are one of the most common conifers, with over 90 varieties in the northern hemisphere, and dwarf pines include many varieties. Pines are fairly tolerant and unfussy, making them a popular landscaping plant.
Dwarf pines like full sun and well-draining soil. Soil pH can vary, although the dwarf pine will yellow if the soil is too alkaline. If you have alkaline soil, consider adding some gypsum to your soil when planting. Pines can tolerate wind and salt air, making them ideal for coastal regions. They are suitable for zones 2 to 8 and are extremely drought tolerant. Be sure to water them well during hot summers or if growing them in containers. They can withstand cold winters.
Dwarf pines grow slowly, about 1 to 2 inches per year, so don't rush to fertilize. If it seems to be growing too slowly, add an evergreen fertilizer in the spring as buds start to form.
Plant your dwarf pine in a sunny location. In the yard, dig a hole larger than the root ball, add any soil amendments, and plant just to the depth the plant was in the nursery pot. If planting in a container, use a high-quality potting mix and plant in a container large enough to allow some room for growth. Allow the plant to dry out a bit before watering.
If you want to keep your dwarf pine small, pruning will be required. For bonsai, cut off all the "candles," the buds, in the springtime. In the yard, cut back the new season's growth to about one-half to three-fourths. Do this in the spring, after the new growth is fully extended but when the new needles are only 1/4 to 1/2 their adult size. This will allow the tree to create a cluster of new buds that will fill in the following spring. Never cut into 2-year or older wood.