How to Plant a Pine Tree

By: HowStuffWorks.com Contributors  | 

plant pine tree
Planting a pine tree sapling is a great activity for the kids. Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / Getty Images

You can plant a pine tree from a seed or from a sapling.

If you're planting from a seed:

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  1. Collect seeds by holding pinecones upside down and shaking gently.
  2. Put the seeds in water. Keep the ones that float and discard the ones that sink.
  3. Dry the seeds and put them in an airtight container until planting season (December or early January).
  4. Fill a small pot with soil. Water the soil.
  5. Place a seed just beneath the soil's surface. The seed should be vertical with the pointy part facing down.
  6. Place the pot near a sunny window. Water it regularly.
  7. Watch for pine needles to emerge, but don't expect to see any change until March or April. Once the pine needles emerge, they'll lean toward the sun. Turn the pot regularly to keep them growing straight.
  8. Transplant your seedling to a 1-gallon (3.8-liter) pot when it's 6 inches to 1 foot (15.24 to 30.48 centimeters) in height, and move the pot outdoors.
  9. Plant the seedling in a permanent spot in the ground when it outgrows its pot.

If you're planting a pine tree sapling, you'll probably bring it home with its roots bagged and wrapped in burlap. Here's how to plant your pine sapling.

  1. Dig a hole twice the width of the burlap ball and no deeper than its height.
  2. Place the burlap ball gently in the hole. Remember to lift your balled-and-burlapped pine tree by the ball, not by the trunk.
  3. Fill the hole with soil while someone else holds the tree up straight. Don't pack the soil too firmly or water won't be able to drain through it.

Once your pine tree is planted in the ground, remember:

  • If your tree is over 6 feet (182.9 centimeters) tall or if the weather is especially windy or harsh, you should stake your tree so that it will grow straight.
  • If you tie your tree with any sort of binding, periodically check to make sure the binding is not girdling the tree as the tree grows. This can kill your tree.

Originally Published: Jun 14, 2011

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Plant Pine Tree FAQs

What time of year is best to plant pine trees?
Fall is the best time of year to plant pine trees, roughly around late August or early September and October. Planting a pine tree is best when it’s neither hot summer nor freezing winter.
How deep do you plant a pine tree?
Pine trees are sunlight-friendly plants and grow well in rich, moist soil that drains freely. So, in case you’re uncertain about proper drainage and how deep it should be planted, you can dig a 11 inch hole and make sure it’s filled with water.
How long does it take to grow pine trees?
It depends on the type of pine tree. Some are mature at nine years. Others take as long as 25 years.
How do you grow a pine tree from a seed?
Collect seeds from pinecones, put them in the water and dry well. Take a small mud pot and fill it with soil. Put the seeds beneath the surface of the soil in a vertical position so that the pointy portion faces downward. Keep the pot in the sunlight and give it water regularly. When the pine needles start emerging, make sure to transplant the seedlings to a bigger pot so that they grow well.
How do you grow a pine tree from a sapling?
Dig a hole twice the width of the burlap ball and no deeper than its height. Put the burlap ball gently in the hole by lifting it from the ball, not from the trunk. Hold your tree straight and add soil to the hole. Avoid packing the soil over-firmly, otherwise water won’t drain in easily. Water your plant reguarly and don’t add shade because pine trees love sunlight.