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How to Grow Austrian Pine (Pinus nigra)

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About Austrian Pine Trees

Once you know just how easy the fast-growing Austrian pine is to grow and care for, it is sure to find a place in your landscape.

Very hardy, this tree that grows beautifully in zones 3-7. This is a big, majestic long-needle pine that will reach a height of 60 feet or more with a generous 20- to 40-foot width. This pine makes a terrific standalone accent tree but works equally well planted in a group to form a windbreak or privacy screen.

The best thing about Austrian pine may be its ability to thrive in many conditions. It will grow just fine in harsh soils like clay or alkaline soils but works well in ordinary soil too. It is both heat and drought tolerant and is often used along streets due to its ability to take on city conditions like air pollution and roadside salt.

One of the most outstanding features is the eruption of long "candles" each spring to early summer, where a new year's growth shoots out of each stem.

For all of these reasons, Austrian pine is a great choice for the landscape.

Austrian pine is a great screen tree, especially when young.

Austrian pine is a great screen tree, especially when young.

Austrian Pine Care

Caring for this tree is very simple. Like other pine trees, when young or newly planted, at least a weekly watering is required. However, once it has been established it will do just fine since it is drought resistant. In a time of significant drought, it will still appreciate a drink.

There is no pruning required whatsoever. In fact, many homeowners want to remove lower branches as the tree matures, but that should not be done. This tree relies on these lower branches for overall strength in times of serious wind or especially snowfall, as the lower branches carry the weight of the higher ones when needed. Just give this tree some room and let it grow naturally.

Fertilizer is also not required, but in the first few years of life, evergreen fertilizer spikes inserted around the drip line each spring will enhance the growth rate somewhat. This step is completely optional.

The ground underneath this tree is best covered with mulch, as the tree will drop its long needles over time. Mulch is a great choice not only because it will retain moisture, but because the needles may be left to fall as they will without adding any cleanup chores to the homeowner.

Austrian pine has long full needles.

Austrian pine has long full needles.

Rate of Growth

The Austrian pine is really a nice, fast-growing tree that is a great choice for gardeners that desire a tree that will fill a space quickly. Often listed as a medium growth rate tree, it will grow slightly slower than a white pine but faster than a spruce. Unlike white pine, however, Austrian pine will remain thick and create a better privacy screen.

Diseases

The most common disease of Austrian pine is Diplodia tip blight. This disease is diagnosed by observing dead branch tips that seem to be spreading. It can be controlled with an annual spray in spring or by removing impacted tips as they appear.

Another pest of this tree is the pine nematode, which is transmitted to the tree by a host beetle. This microscopic pest can have the effect of obstructing the tree's ability to send water and nutrients throughout the tree, and can kill the tree if infected.

Dwarf Austrian Pine

If you like the look and versatility of Austrian pine but don't have room for a 60-foot tree on your property, there are dwarf versions available that carry the same look but will fit in much less space. These smaller varieties tend to be just a bit harder to establish at first than the original, but once they are set in they are quite beautiful.

Good cultivars to look for include Oregon Green (slow growth to 12 feet tall in 10 years, 20 overall) or Arnold Sentinel (slow growth to 25 feet tall but columnar at less than 10 feet wide). Both will grace the landscape with the same long pine needles, but the slower growth rate and smaller overall size will allow them to fit in a tighter space.

An Easy-to-Grow Pine Tree

Austrian pine is an easy to grow pine tree that is worthy of consideration in your landscape. If you are searching for a fast-growing evergreen that grows great in less than perfect conditions, looks stately, and serves well as an evergreen privacy screen, this tree is a good fit.

Questions & Answers

Question: Can I grow Austrian Pine indoors?

Answer: You can, but unless you have plenty of sun and a lot of space, I don't think you'd want to. Austrian pine gets very wide and tall. They are, however, used as bonsai specimens and can adapt to that craft.

Question: What is the maximum elevation for Austrian pine?

Answer: Most sources will tell you they get to be 60 feet, but keep in mind that there are many varieties. I have a modified version that grows slower and may stay smaller. I think the most important thing for Austrian pine owners to understand is that they are wide trees and the branches and needles are very stiff, so allowing the width they need, especially as they age, is important. They can spread to 40 feet.

Comments

Liv Jensen on September 25, 2019:

In ephrata, Washington there are many austrian black pines growing randomly in the lines of arborvitae that look as if there doing wonderful. The arborvitae at my house lost 1 and somebody (definitely not me) planted a maple tree in its place. Everyday i think an austrian black pine wouldve been an excellent fill in for the lost arborvitae its since they have the same requirements for water and soil. So arborvitae companion is excellent for Austrian pines. And there is 1 that looks like a trumpet vine is climbing its way through to get sunlight sobit looks like the pine tree is blooming abundantly all summer .I forgot to add the arborvitae and austrian pines growing together in Ephrata are all thriving and alive and thriving, the arborvitae that do not have the Austrian pines are dead or about to be

Kevin on March 06, 2019:

Just planted a 7 foot tall austrian pine. The needles are yellowish like my Virginia Golden pine and hope they remain that color. So excited!