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White pine seedlings.

Cara Asked

I just received 10 Eastern White Pines seedlings in the mail. They appear to be very healthy and in good shape. Is it safe to plant those in the ground right now? They are only 6 inches tall and I’m sure we are still due some hot weather. Should I plant them in a big pot until say October and then plant in the ground?

The Gardener’s Answer

Hi, Cara: It would be best to plant them directly in the ground. This way they have a few month to spread their roots and establish themselves before winter arrives. It will also be easier for you in terms of watering them. Containers dry out quicker; you still may need to hand water them in the ground but not as often as a container planting.

When choosing a planting site take into account the available sunlight, soil condition and mature size of these evergreens. They may only be 6 inches right now but they can eventually reach upwards of 50 feet tall and 20 feet wide. Eastern white pines (Pinus strobus) require full sun (6 or more hours each day) and fertile, well-drained soil. They will not tolerate heavy compacted clay. Dig the holes deep and wide enough that when the seedling is placed in the hole, the roots are not curled up but have room to spread. When planted, the soil level should be where the roots meet the stem. Avoid planting too deep or shallow as this can promote future problems. Backfill with the existing soil and add amendments if needed. A thin layer of mulch will help the soil moisture retain moisture and give the roots added protection during the colder months. You may need to add protection around the small plantings if wildlife is abundant around you just until they get larger and potentially stake them if needed. I hope this is helpful.

Angie Oakley

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