The pine genus (Pinus spp.) consists of approximately 120 species of evergreen trees and shrubs native to the Northern hemisphere. Pine trees are commonly cultivated for their evergreen needles, attractive cones and often, their impressive size. Gardeners in temperate climates have a wide range of varieties to choose from.
Also known as Southern yellow pine or heart pine, longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) is a slow-growing pine species native to North America. The tree may grow up to 100 feet in ideal conditions, although it is usually much smaller. The tree boasts a long, thin trunk topped with a small crown of dark green needles. Longleaf pine is an unusual tree that doesn't begin to develop a visible trunk until it is between 3 and 15 years old. The tree has a lifespan of upward of 300 years. Longleaf pine grows naturally in sunny locations in USDA Zones 7 to 9, where it will grow in both wetland soils and dry, sandy soils.
Austrian pine (Pinus nigra) is a broad pine species that produces a large, open canopy. The tree grows upward of 30 feet, producing a spread of dark green, 4- to 6-inch evergreen needles that may protrude outward 15 to 30 feet. Mature trees exhibit textured, furrowed bark. Austrian pine may be cultivated in USDA Zones 5 to 8, ideally in a deep, moist and well-draining soil. The tree requires full sunlight to thrive. Austrian pine may catch Sphaeropsis tip blight, a severe disease that causes the death of branches and, sometimes, the death of the entire tree.
Japanese Black Pine
Japanese black pine (Pinus thunbergii) is a pine variety native to China, Korea and Japan. The tree typically grows to be between 20 to 30 feet in cultivation, though it may reach towering heights of up to 100 feet in its native habitat. The tree offers a broad, irregular habit framed by dense dark green needles and small brown cones. Smaller cultivars are available, such as 'Thunderhead,' a compact cultivar that rarely grows to be more than 10 feet tall. Japanese black pine is suitable for USDA Zones 5 to 8, though it usually looks its best in Zones 6 and 7. The tree is tolerant of salty soils and windy conditions, and may be grown in sand.
Also known as Swiss mountain pine, mugo pine (Pinus mugo) is a slow-growing, shrublike pine tree native to the mountains of southern Europe. The plant is more commonly seen as a stout, low-growing shrub of about 10 to 15 feet in height and width. Mugo pine is characterised by dense, bluish green foliage, although cultivars such as 'Aurea' offer golden foliage. Mugo pine is suitable for USDA Zones 3 to 7, where it will grow in a wide range of soil conditions. The shrub requires regular watering and either full sun or partial shade.
Eastern White Pine
Growing to heights of upward of 30 feet, Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus 'Fastigiata') is a narrow evergreen pine notable for its columnar habit. The tree offers light bluish green foliage, as well as light-grey bark and brown cones. Eastern white pine works well as a specimen or screening plant in USDA Zones 4 to 9, where it will adapt to a variety of moisture conditions. Grow in full sunlight in a well-draining soil, and check occasionally for pets such as scale, sawfly and caterpillars.