When to Plant Pine Trees for Best Growth and Survival

Written by

William Golder


Dorian Goodwin

when to plant pine trees

Pines are evergreen trees that provide great shade for homes in the summer while acting as privacy screens on properties. If you’re interested in having these in your yard, learning when to plant pine trees should be your first agenda.

In short, the best time of year for growing these evergreens is December to mid-March, whether you’re using seeds or seedlings. As for cuttings, remove and plant them from May to July or during the tree’s winter dormancy.

Best Time to Plant Pine Trees

1. Grow pine trees from seed and seedlings from December to March.


When it comes to pine trees, popular options for cultivating them include seeds and seedlings (namely bare-root, pot-grown, burlap, and biodegradable-container seedlings).

For all of these mediums, it’s best that you plant them from December to March when the pines are still dormant. Barring colder climates, gardening after March 1 tends to result in lower rates of success due to the drier weather that hinders establishment. 

Though it’s possible to make an exception for saplings in containers, burlaps, and pots, which will develop as long as there’s no frost, these types will still struggle under the hot weather of July and August without adequate watering.

Suffice it to say, late winter and early spring are the best seasons for planting pine seedling and seeds.

2. Grow pine trees from cuttings from May to July or during the trees’ dormancy.


If you already have a large pine tree, you can remove healthy cuttings from it and use them to create a new plant. This task is typically done between summer and winter before the tree resumes growing in spring.

In detail, trim off a branch that is six inches long from the planted pines, then remove all needles at the bottom third of it. You should dry the base of the cutting by hand before dipping its tip into some rooting hormone.

Afterward, set the needle-free part of the pine branch in a container with potting soil and perlite. Make sure the soil is damp and exposed to bright, indirect light to encourage growth.

It’s also essential to remember that cuttings may take up to a year to root, so have some patience when following this method.

3. Planting time in different states


Here is the estimated time for growing pine trees in some US states.

  1. In Virginia – February and March, September to November (for longleaf pine)
  2. In Ohio – March and April, August to early October
  3. In Michigan – Early spring or around March
  4. In Tennessee – Mid-December to mid-March
  5. In Iowa – Mid-August and September
  6. In Oklahoma (or in zone 7, 6, and 8) – Mid-February to April and early fall

Tips for Successful Pine Trees Planting

1. Plant pine trees from seeds


  • If you opt for this method, collect pine cones between August and October once they have ripened. Pick female cones only, which are often bigger than male ones and sit lower on the tree.

These will have seeds you can use for planting, so long as the cones are brown or purple and have not yet opened.

  • With your conifer parts in hand, open them and dry the seeds under direct sunlight, then pour the seeds into a water jug. Those that float to the top won’t grow into trees, so discard them at this point.
  • You can now put the viable seeds into a container with pine tree potting soil, then water it so that the soil is damp.
  • The seeds should sit next to an east-facing window and be mature enough for outdoor transplanting after developing for a year.
  • Once the saplings reach six inches in height, you can move them into a one-gallon container and acclimate them to the external environment.
  • Finally, begin transplanting pine trees if water starts pooling at the top of the soil or the roots begin poking out of the container.

2. Plant pine tree seedlings


First thing first, the soil for pine trees should be grass- and weed-free, so spray the ground with a herbicide to eliminate all vegetation before planting.

The garden plot you choose must have adequate drainage and loose soil, so incorporate three to four inches of organic matter into the ground if it can’t release an inch of water per hour.

In extreme cases with very poor drainage, a professionally-installed drain tile will be necessary. Consider paying a pine tree planting service whenever you’re unsure how to achieve proper soil requirements for your climate.

Next, dig a hole twice as wide as and slightly deeper than the pine roots. Line the bottom of the hole with some of the topsoil you removed, then detach the pot/burlap/container from the plant (unless you’re working with bare roots only).

Afterward, pry the roots apart from each other and put them into the soil. Backfill the dug area and compress it slightly with your trowel’s handle.

In terms of water requirements, one to two inches of moisture per week should get pine trees to grow faster. You don’t need to irrigate them during winter when there’s frost, but it’s vital to give the saplings afternoon shade by placing 2×3 feet plywood blocks on their west side.

Wood chips around the trunk are also beneficial, provided they’re not the black walnut kind.



How long does it take for a pine tree to grow?

Pine trees have a growth rate of two feet annually and will reach maturity after approximately three decades. Their height range is 10 to 260 feet.

What is the recommendation for planting pine trees spacing?

Six to twelve feet between trees and ten feet between rows are the general recommendations. But it’s worth noting that large species like Ponderosa may require up to twenty feet of clearance.


We hope this article answered all your questions concerning when to plant pine trees. As perennials, these evergreens can survive for hundreds if not thousands of years, making them excellent choices for towering shrubs that will stay with the family for generations.

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