Contorted white pine tree

Twisted White Pine Trees: Growing Contorted White Pines In The Landscape

Contorted white pine is a type of Eastern white pine that has a number of attractive features. Its biggest claim to fame is the unique, twisted quality of the branches and needles. For more contorted white pine information, including tips on growing white pines with twisted growth, read on.

Contorted White Pine Information

Contorted white pine trees (Pinus strobus ‘Contorta’ or ‘Torulosa’) share many of the traits of Eastern white pine, a native needled evergreen. Both grow relatively rapidly and can live over 100 years. But while Eastern white pine trees shoots up to 80 feet (24 m.) in cultivation and can attain 200 feet (61 m.) in the wild, twisted white pine trees don’t. Contorted white pine information suggests that this cultivar tops out around 40 feet (12 m.) tall.

The evergreen needles on Contorta grow in clusters of five. Each

individual needle is slender, twisted and about 4 inches (10 cm.) long. They are soft to the touch. Male cones are yellow and female cones are red. Each grows to about 6 inches (15 cm.) long.

Twisted white pine trees are definitely eye-catching. The trees grow with a strong central leader and a rounded form, developing low canopies that only leave some 4 feet (1.2 m.) of clearance below them. White pines with twisted growth add a fine and delicate texture to a backyard landscape. That makes them a popular garden accent feature.

Growing Contorted White Pine Trees

If you are thinking of growing contorted white pine trees, don’t worry if you live in a chilly area. Twisted white pine trees are hardy to U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone 3.

On the other hand, you’ll need a sunny location to plant white pines with twisted growth. Be sure you have enough room, since the tree, left to its own devices, may spread to 30 feet (9 m.). And check the soil. It’s a lot easier growing contorted white pine in acidic soil, since alkaline soil may cause yellowing foliage.

Assuming you planted your tree in an appropriate location, contorted white pine care will be minimal. Twisted white pine trees adapt well to both dry and moist growing conditions. However, for best care, plant the tree in a wind-sheltered location.

Contorta only requires occasional pruning. Only prune to trim back new growth rather than cutting deeply into the canopy. Of course, contorted white pine care includes trimming off any dieback.

Pine

Pine Tree

Pines are landscape workhorses. They are a top choice for screening a view or wrapping a patio with lovely green privacy, providing interest along a foundation, or as an eye-catching focal point in the landscape. Look for cultivars ranging from 3-foot-tall shearable foundation specimens to a lofty Australian pine that will stand 60 feet tall at maturity. These hardworking evergreens are particular about their growing environment. Plant them in a location where they will thrive, and you’ll enjoy decades of year-round color while creating a valuable habitat for wildlife.

genus name
  • Pinus spp.
light
  • Sun
plant type
  • Tree
height
  • 3 to 8 feet,
  • 8 to 20 feet,
  • 20 feet or more
width
  • 2 to 60 feet wide
foliage color
  • Blue/Green
season features
  • Winter Interest
problem solvers
  • Good For Privacy,
  • Slope/Erosion Control
special features
  • Attracts Birds,
  • Fragrance,
  • Good for Containers
zones
  • 2,
  • 3,
  • 4,
  • 5,
  • 6,
  • 7,
  • 8,
  • 9
propagation
  • Grafting,
  • Seed,
  • Stem Cuttings

Garden Plans For Pine

Image zoom Image zoom

Planting Pine Trees

Pines pair well with many plants. Create a texture-rich privacy screen by pairing tall pine species with hemlock, spruce, and arborvitae species. These evergreen champions will grow alongside each other to create a dense, evergreen screen. Dwarf pines are perfect complements for perennial beds and foundation plantings. Pair pines with shrub roses and hydrangeas for a colorful show year-round.

See how to use an evergreen for every purpose in the yard.

Pine Tree Care

Pines grow well in full sun and average- to medium-moisture soil that is well-drained. There are many species of pine. For best success, search out a species that is native to your region. For example, an eastern white pine is native to the northeast United States and Canada. It would languish in central Georgia. A longleaf pine is native to the South and thrives in the heat in that area. Check with your local Extension Service to learn more about pines that are native to your area.

Plant pine in spring and water regularly during the first growing season. Spread a 2-inch-thick layer of mulch around plants to prevent soil moisture loss. Pruning is rarely necessary. Prune as needed to remove dead or broken branches.

Pines are susceptible to a number of problems. Blights and rusts are the main diseases impacting pines. Difficult, and sometimes impossible to treat, blights and rusts are often fatal over time. An additional disease is canker. Insect problems include pine weevil, bark beetles, pine sawfly, scale, and aphids. Many pine diseases and insect problems can be avoided by planting the tree in its preferred growing environment. Cool summer weather combined with well-drained soil that is moderately fertile will produce a healthy tree that can fend off many diseases and insects.

New Innovations

Plant breeders are continuously introducing new dwarf pines for small landscapes. These valuable plants often reach a mature size of less than 10 feet tall and wide. They also tolerate pruning well and can be sheared to a desired shape. You’ll find varieties with deep green needles, icy blue needles, and bright chartreuse needles—have fun with the color diversity of pines. Look for dwarf varieties of pine at your local garden center.

Learn more about evergreen trees here.

More Varieties of Pine

Austrian pine

Pinus nigra forms a dense, dark green pyramid of evergreen foliage. It grows best in cool-summer climates and reaches 130 feet tall and 30 feet wide. Zones 5-8

Bosnian pine

This pine variety offers medium-length dark green needles. It grows 70 feet tall and 20 feet wide. Zones 5-8

Bristlecone pine

Pinus aristata is native to Colorado’s Rocky Mountains and grows into a small, multistemmed tree to 30 feet tall and 20 feet wide. Zones 4-8

‘Chief Joseph’ pine

This cultivar is a striking selection with bright golden color in winter that fades to green in spring. It grows 60 feet tall and 20 feet wide. Zones 5-8

Contorted Eastern white pine

Pinus strobus ‘Contorta’ offers twisted needles and curled branches that create a distinct note in the landscape. It can grow 40 feet tall and 12 feet wide. Zones 4-9

Eastern white pine

This type of pine bears soft needles on tall, rugged trees. It’s often used as windbreak plantings, but note the tree develops an open habit as it ages. It grows 120 feet tall and 25 feet wide. Zones 4-9

Japanese white pine

Pinus parviflora is a sculptural tree with blue-green needles. It grows 30-70 feet tall and 25 feet wide. Zones 6-9

Limber pine

This variety is native to the Rocky Mountains and handles drought, heat, and alkaline soil better than most pines. It grows 70 feet tall and 30 feet wide. Zones 3-7

Peterson Japanese white pine

Pinus parviflora ‘Peterson’ is a dense, pyramid-shape evergreen with silvery, blue-green needles. It’s a slow grower to 18 feet tall and 9 feet wide. Zones 5-8

Swiss stone pine

This cultivar bears beautiful green needles streaked with blue. It grows 70 feet tall and 25 feet wide at maturity. Zones 3-7

‘Taylor’s Sunburst’ lodgepole pine

Pinus contorta ‘Taylor’s Sunburst’ features bright gold new spring growth that fades to deep green in summer. It grows 30 feet tall and wide. Zones 5-8

Plant Finder

Kurly Top White Pine (tree form)

Kurly Top White Pine (tree form)

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

* This is a “special order” plant – contact store for details

Height: 4 feet

Spread: 3 feet

Sunlight:

Hardiness Zone: 4a

Other Names: Eastern White Pine

Description:

An interesting small tree form featuring curly, twisted blue-green needles; compact and slow growing, excellent for form, texture and color detail in home gardens or for rock gardens; needs full sun

Ornamental Features

Kurly Top White Pine (tree form) has attractive blue-variegated bluish-green foliage. The twisted needles are highly ornamental and remain bluish-green throughout the winter. Neither the flowers nor the fruit are ornamentally significant.

Landscape Attributes

Kurly Top White Pine (tree form) is a dense evergreen tree, selected and trained to grow in a small tree-like form with the primary plant grafted high atop a standard. Its relatively fine texture sets it apart from other landscape plants with less refined foliage.

This tree will require occasional maintenance and upkeep. When pruning is necessary, it is recommended to only trim back the new growth of the current season, other than to remove any dieback. Gardeners should be aware of the following characteristic(s) that may warrant special consideration;

  • Insects
  • Disease

Kurly Top White Pine (tree form) is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Accent
  • Mass Planting
  • General Garden Use

Planting & Growing

Kurly Top White Pine (tree form) will grow to be about 4 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 3 feet. It tends to be a little leggy, with a typical clearance of 2 feet from the ground. It grows at a slow rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for 50 years or more.

This tree should only be grown in full sunlight. It is very adaptable to both dry and moist growing conditions, but will not tolerate any standing water. It is not particular as to soil type, but has a definite preference for acidic soils, and is subject to chlorosis (yellowing) of the leaves in alkaline soils. It is quite intolerant of urban pollution, therefore inner city or urban streetside plantings are best avoided, and will benefit from being planted in a relatively sheltered location. This is a selection of a native North American species.

* This is a “special order” plant – contact store for details

Pinus strobus / eastern white pine

Distribution. This species is found naturally from Newfoundland west through the Great Lakes region to southeastern Manitoba and Minnesota, and south along the Mississippi Basin and Appalachian Mountains to northernmost Georgia and Mississippi. Found at sea level in the north part of its range, and up to 5,000 feet (1,500 m) in the south, where it prefers well-drained soils and a cool, humid climate. Forms mixed stands with Canadian hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), oaks (Quercus species), or American elm (Fraxinus americana). Pinus strobus now naturalizes in the Czech Republic’s Carpathian Mountains and southern Poland due to specimens planted as ornamental trees in gardens and parks.

Hardy to USDA Zone 3 — cold hardiness limit between -40° and -30°F (-39.9° and -34.4°C).

Eastern white pine is now widely grown in plantation forestry within its native area. Old growth pine in the Americas, of various Pinus species, was a highly desired wood since huge, knot-free boards were the rule rather than the exception. Pine was common and easy to cut, thus many colonial homes used pine for paneling, floors and furniture. Pine was also a favorite tree of loggers since pine logs can still be processed in a lumber mill a year or more after being cut down. In contrast, most hardwood trees such as cherry, maple, oak, and ash must be cut into 1” thick boards immediately after felling or large cracks will develop in the trunk which can render the wood worthless.

Pine tar is produced by slowly burning pine roots, branches, or small trunks in a partially smothered flame. Pine tar mixed with beer can be used to remove tapeworms and nematodes. Pine tar mixed with sulfur is useful to treat dandruff, and marketed in present day products. Pine tar can also be processed to make turpentine.

Pinus strobus is cultivated by plant nurseries as an ornamental tree, for planting in gardens and parks. The species is low-maintenance and rapid growing as a specimen tree. With regular shearing it can also be trained as a hedge. Some cultivars are used in bonsai. There are currently 131 Pinus strobus cultivars in the ACS Conifer Database.

Smaller specimens are popular as live Christmas trees. Eastern white pines are noted for holding their needles well, even long after being harvested. They also are well suited for people with allergies, as they give little to no aroma. A standard 6 foot (1.8 m) tall tree takes approximately 6 to 8 years to grow in ideal conditions.

Sheared specimens are usually sold because of their stereotypical Christmas Tree conical shape; naturally grown ones can become too thick for larger ornaments, or grow bushy in texture. The branches of the Eastern White Pine are also widely used in making holiday wreaths and garland because of their soft, feathery needles.

Eastern White Pine is the provincial tree of Ontario, Canada; and the state tree of Maine and Michigan. Its “pine cone and tassel” is the state flower of Maine whose nickname is “The Pine Tree State.”

Plant Finder

Twisted White Pine

Twisted White Pine

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Twisted White Pine foliage

Twisted White Pine foliage

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height: 40 feet

Spread: 30 feet

Sunlight:

Hardiness Zone: 3

Other Names: Eastern White Pine

Description:

A relative novelty, this variant of the species features contorted branches and needles, rather unusual on close inspection, and lending a finer overall texture, otherwise similar to the species but a little smaller; maybe best as a conversation piece

Ornamental Features

Twisted White Pine has green foliage. The needles remain green throughout the winter. Neither the flowers nor the fruit are ornamentally significant.

Landscape Attributes

Twisted White Pine is an evergreen tree with a strong central leader and a more or less rounded form. It lends an extremely fine and delicate texture to the landscape composition which can make it a great accent feature on this basis alone.

This tree will require occasional maintenance and upkeep. When pruning is necessary, it is recommended to only trim back the new growth of the current season, other than to remove any dieback. Gardeners should be aware of the following characteristic(s) that may warrant special consideration;

  • Insects
  • Disease

Twisted White Pine is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Accent
  • Shade

Planting & Growing

Twisted White Pine will grow to be about 40 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 30 feet. It has a low canopy with a typical clearance of 4 feet from the ground, and should not be planted underneath power lines. It grows at a medium rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live to a ripe old age of 100 years or more; think of this as a heritage tree for future generations!

This tree should only be grown in full sunlight. It is very adaptable to both dry and moist growing conditions, but will not tolerate any standing water. It is not particular as to soil type, but has a definite preference for acidic soils, and is subject to chlorosis (yellowing) of the leaves in alkaline soils. It is quite intolerant of urban pollution, therefore inner city or urban streetside plantings are best avoided, and will benefit from being planted in a relatively sheltered location. This is a selection of a native North American species.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *