Pine tree water consumption

How to Water Older Pine Trees

pine-tree image by Maxim Prikhodko from

Mature pine trees are a stately addition to any landscape, and the green needles provide winter interest, as well as shelter for songbirds and other wildlife year round. Pine trees, along with spruce and other conifers, tend to be pretty low-maintenance plants, and they need little attention once they have become established. However, older pine trees will benefit from deep watering during very dry conditions, and watering in the late fall will help the trees get through the winter.

Water older pine trees when the weather is very dry. Pine trees may not show any obvious signs of drought stress other than possibly dropping more needles than usual, but if nearby deciduous trees are wilting, it may be time to water your trees.

Give your older pine trees a big drink of water just before winter hits. Pine trees that are well hydrated will be less likely to become damaged by cold temperature, strong winds or dry air during the winter. If you live in an area where the ground doesn’t freeze, older pine trees may need water throughout the winter if the weather is dry.

Use a soaker hose to water mature trees. Circle the hose on the ground around the perimeter of the pine boughs and leave the water on until the ground is saturated but not waterlogged. Depending on the dryness of the soil and the strength of your hose, this may take 30 to 90 minutes. Watering is most effective when it is done early in the morning or in the evening.

Allow fallen pine needles to lay in place to act as a mulch for your mature pine tree. Mulch will help retain soil moisture and will also keep down weeds. You can also use other mulch, such as shredded bark. Even just an inch or two of mulch can make a big difference for mature pine trees.

Norfolk Pine Water Requirements: Learn How To Water A Norfolk Pine Tree

Norfolk pines (also frequently called Norfolk Island pines) are big beautiful trees native to the Pacific Islands. They are hardy in USDA zones 10 and above, which makes them impossible to grow outdoors for a lot of gardeners. They’re still popular the world over, however, because they make such good houseplants. But how much water does a Norfolk pine need? Keep reading to learn more about how to water a Norfolk pine and Norfolk pine water requirements.

Watering Norfolk Pines

How much water does a Norfolk pine need? The short answer is not very much. If you live in a warm enough climate to have your trees planted outdoors, you’ll be happy to know that they need basically no extra irrigation.

Container grown plants always need more frequent watering because they lose their moisture quickly. Even so, Norfolk pine watering should be limited – only water your tree when the top inch (2.5 cm.) of its soil is dry to the touch.

Additional Norfolk Pine Water Requirements

While Norfolk pine watering needs aren’t very intense, humidity is a different story. Norfolk Island pines do best when the air is humid. This is often a problem when the trees are grown as houseplants, as the average home isn’t nearly humid enough. This is easily solved, however.

Simply find a dish that’s at least an inch greater in diameter than the base of your Norfolk pine’s container. Line the bottom of the dish with small pebbles and fill it with water until the pebbles are half submerged. Set your container in the dish.

When you do water your tree, do so until the water runs out of the drainage holes. This will let you know the soil is saturated, and it’ll keep the dish topped up. Just make sure the level of the dish’s water is below the base of the container or you run the risk of drowning the tree’s roots.

How Much Water Does a Newly-Planted Tree Need?

Just like babies, puppies, or kittens, newly-planted trees need more time and attention than their fully-grown counterparts.

While your mature tree may only need hydrated during dry spells, young trees probably need a drink every single week!

After all, they’re still growing, so they need a ton of H2O to establish a robust root system.

How Often to Water Newly-Planted Trees and Shrubs

There’s no magic number here! Instead, keep the top 12 inches of soil in and around the root ball moist. Generally, that means 4-10 gallons each week during the first growing season or two. But, that’s quite a big gap, so how can you tell what’s best for your tree?

First, check to see if your tree is thirsty by digging 4-6 inches into the soil. You want the soil to be moist to the touch, not dry or drenched.

If your soil’s dry, deliver 5 gallons of H2O. Then, periodically check to see if that’s a good fit. If it’s still dry, up that amount. Also, remember rain counts too, so subtract that amount before wetting the soil.

Do newly-planted fruit trees need more water?

Not really! For the first couple of years, you want to provide enough water to keep the top few inches of your fruit tree’s soil wet. Just follow the above instructions, and your fruit tree should be good to go!

What’s the best way to keep my young tree hydrated?

Sure, you can set out your sprinkler and soak your tree. But, if you want to feel confident about watering, consider making a hydration system. It’ll track how much liquid your tree’s getting and deliver the moisture right to the tree’s roots.

How to Water Pine Trees

bud of pine-tree branch image by Maria Brzostowska from

Landscapers use pine to provide year round colors and textures to properties. Pine trees aren’t effortless plants requiring little to no care. These beautiful evergreen trees need care and maintenance in all growing seasons. Pines require regular watering to keep the plant healthy and to limit browning of needles. Pines offer great versatility as accent trees or foundation plants and will last for a long time in the home landscape with proper basic maintenance.

Check the health of the pine by picking off one needle from a branch. The needle should flex when bent instead of snapping in half. Examine the tree for signs of water distress such as brittle needles and browning.

Locate an area under the canopy of the tree and press a long screwdriver (or water probe) into the soil. The screwdriver will stop when it reaches dry soil. Large pines require a moisture field of 18 to 20 inches deep to sustain deep taproots.

Water pines regularly after planting to help establish strong roots. Pines require about 1 inch of water each week from either rain or home irrigation. Continue regular maintenance watering for the first two years of the plant’s life.

Arrange a circular sweat or soaker hose around the base of the tree. Line up the hose just slightly inside the edge of the tree canopy. Attach a garden hose to the end of the hose and turn on the outside water to a light flow. Allow water to seep slowly in the ground around the pine.

Water slowly with a standard garden hose if a soaker hose isn’t available. Set the water pressure to a light trickle and place the hose at various locations around the base of the pine at 15-minute intervals. Test the soil with the screwdriver to determine the depth of moisture penetration 2 to 3 hours after completion of the watering cycle.

Water Pine Trees Year-Around

To keep pine trees healthy and provide many years of beauty and shade to your landscape, you’ll need to water them during the winter. This segment demonstrates several easy ways to give your pine tree the correct amount of water.

Produced by the Department of Communications at Kansas State University. For more information, visit our website at:

Water Pine Trees Year-Round

To maintain the health of our pine trees, it’s important to water them often. We’re very good at watering our trees during the spring, summer, and fall, but oftentimes we forget to water them adequately in the winter time or when it’s exceptionally hot or windy during the summer.
One tip to ensure that you apply the proper amount of water to your pine trees is to use a five gallon bucket. Drill a small pin-hole in the bottom of the bucket and place the bucket next to your pine tree. If you fill the bucket up two times, you’ll apply 10 gallons of water to the tree – which is about the amount of water the tree needs for one week’s use.
If it’s exceptionally hot, or extremely dry, fill the buckets up twice per week. Or, you can put your hose on a small trickle and let it run next to the tree for about 10 to fifteen minutes. On small trees that are newly established, it’s important to do this for at least the first three year’s of the tree’s life in order to get it adequately rooted into the ground.
It’s especially important in Western Kansas to keep your trees watered to reduce the stress load on them. Keeping them properly watered is one of the best things you can do to help prevent other stresses from taking over – such as insects and disease.
Oftentimes, trees in Western Kansas are in irrigated yards or gardens where they receive proper water during the spring, summer, and fall. But pine trees don’t lose their needles like other types of trees in the wintertime. So, they’ll need regular watering in the winter as well. It’s important that you water these trees anytime that the temperature is above fifty degrees during the wintertime. Proper watering throughout the winter, spring, and summer will help improve the life and vigor of your tree.
This feature story prepared with Chris Petty, Kansas State University Research and Extension Agriculture & Natural Resources Agent, Southwind Extension District. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at

Chamaecyparis Boulevard, Blue Pine (0.6m)

Be sure that whatever the pot is made from has holes to promote drainage, as a pine tree can easily drown in too much water. Occasional pruning is necessary to remove damage from blister rust.

  • Sunlight: Direct sunlight and partial sunlight
  • Water: Remember that it’s the roots that need access to water, not the leaves. Wetting the foliage is a waste of water and can promote the spread of disease.
  • Fertiliser: Keep plant in top form by feeding the plants every few weeks with a dilute solution of liquid fertilizer.
  • Plant size: approx. 60cm (vary in sizes)
  • Rootball size: 28cm x 28cm
  • Pot type: Plant comes in brown landscape pot (with drainage hole)

* Product photo shown is for reference only. Actual plant colour, type, size and arrangement may differ from photo.

* Kindly take note when you’re purchasing matching pot, the diameter has to be larger than the rootball size

Click here for matching pots


Soil for Potted Plants

Plants should be grown in fertilised potting mix. Make or buy a fertilised mix which consist of coco peat moss or coconut fiber (coir), vermiculite or perlite, compost and other ingredients. A lightweight soil for potted plants needs to provide good drainage, hold moisture, and give roots room to grow.

Light Requirements

All plants depend on light for their survival, and making sure your potted plants get the right amount of light is key to keeping them happy. For both indoor and outdoor containers, group plants with similar light requirements. Don’t mix shade lovers with sun lovers in a single pot; one or both of them will be unhappy, depending on where you place the pot.

Formula calculates how much water each tree needs

How much water does my tree need? That’s the question of the season.

Trees can be watered with a hand-held wand, soaker hose or driplines. You even can use a deep root needle or a deep root fork but don’t push the probe or probes too deep into the soil. The same is true with vertically placed pipes for deep root watering, if they are more than 12 inches deep, they are too deep. Watering is much more efficient if it is applied from the soil surface down, like rain. Ninety percent of the roots are in the top 12 inches of soil and many of the roots that take up water are located in the dripline area. If water is placed below 12 inches, the tree misses out.

A general rule of thumb is to apply 10 gallons of water for every inch of trunk diameter when you water. Measure the trunk diameter at knee height. You can eyeball the diameter or hold up a ruler or yardstick to get the inches. The general watering formula is: tree diameter x five minutes = total watering time.

It takes about five minutes to produce 10 gallons of water at a medium pressure. A 4-inch diameter tree will need 20 minutes of watering time to supply the 40 gallons it needs. If this tree is a mature desert willow, Chinese pistache, Mexican redbud or lacebark elm it may need water only every three weeks or so in the summer. If it is a bearing pecan tree, it will need to be watered each week in May through September. Southern magnolia, cottonwood, poplar, globe willow, weeping willow and twisted willow are species that need 32 inches or more of rainfall or irrigation to survive. These need weekly watering or should be replaced with better species for our area.

Young or newly planted trees need weekly watering during the growing season. Their water needs are easy to meet because they are small. They can be watered with a hose end spray, soaker, drip or a perforated five gallon bucket. A five gallon bucket with several 1/8-inch holes drilled in the bottom can be quickly filled and left to slowly drain out onto the root ball of the new tree, while you go on to hand water other trees. A 2-inch diameter tree would need four buckets or two buckets filled two times to meet its 20 gallons of water.

If you have more trees to water than you can get to in the two-hour weekly period, try putting them on a rotation so they get a good watering every two to three weeks or even four if you have that many trees. It would be better to do a good, deep watering once every few weeks than to apply a little water to each tree.

What if the water goes into the soil too slowly or runs off? Water the dripline of the tree until water begins to stand or run off and move to another tree. After 10 to 30 minutes go back to that tree and the soil should be able to take water at a faster rate.

Mulch trees with 4 inches of organic mulch out to the dripline. Shredded tree limbs, shredded bark, pine needles and other forms of mulch can be used. Mulch will slow the evaporation of water from the soil and keep weed and grass growth down (you may want to kill the grass before applying mulch) so they don’t compete for water. Mulch keeps the soil temperatures cooler so roots function better and will improve the water infiltration rates and reduce runoff.

Don’t want to do drip or soaker? That’s OK. You can get a lot of water on your tree using a hand-held spray wand. You can apply roughly 240 gallons of water in two hours. That is enough water for a 24-inch diameter tree, or two 12-inch diameter trees or however it works out at your house.

You may want to run your own test to find out how long it takes to apply 10 gallons of water. Using two 5-gallon buckets time how long it takes to fill the two. If you get more or less gallons in five minutes use that number in the formula for more exact measurements.

Think of all the benefits to hand watering. There’s something very therapeutic about holding a running water hose — it’s cheap therapy. Incorporate some stretching or isometric exercises with your watering routine and skip the gym that day. Scout your plants for insects, caterpillars and other problems before they are a problem. Work on your vitamin D levels and pray for rain.

“Will any forest tree work the same on a given site? Are trees completely interchangeable? The questions hinged on whether trees vary in their capacity for water interception and transpiration. To get answers, loggers clear-cut mature hardwood forests of native oak and hickory in two watersheds in the Southern Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, then replanted them with white pine seedlings. By 1973. when the pines had filled out their canopies, those two watersheds were yielding 20 percent less streamflow than equivalent catchments still forested by hardwoods…transpiration and evaporative losses from pines are greater because this species retains most of its needles year-round. In contrast, the dormant hardwoods stand leafless through the fall and winter, and their bare trunks and branches allow more rain to reach the soil and seep to the streams…the conversion of just sixteen hectares of forest from oak-hickory to pines cost 23 million liters in lost water in a single year.” (Baskin 1997:85)

“These experiments provide the first conclusive evidence of how streamflow changes when hardwood stands are converted to white pine. The implications are far-reaching. Streamflow levels begin dropping six years after conversion, and, after only ten years of growth, annual evapotranspiration losses were greater from white pine than from the hardwoods it replaced. A greater, perhaps much greater, reduction in streamflow is expected as the plantations mature. We suggest that the reduced flow results primarily from increased interception loss by the pine. Summaries of forest interception studies indicate that higher interception losses could be expected from white pine during dormant season, since the intercepting surface in a hardwood stand is drastically reduced following leaf fall.” (Swank, Miner 1968: 950-951)

“The results on these watersheds have important implications for the management of water resources. It is clear that the quantity of streamflow can be substantially altered by changing the type of forest vegetation. On municipal watersheds in the east, white pine has long been a favorite species for planting but this practice will reduce water supplies. On watershed 1, water available for downstream use in 1972 was reduced by 23.7 x 106 liters by converting just 16 hectares from deciduous hardwood to white pine. Identical water yield reductions would not be expected everywhere because of differences in climate and vegetation. But a summary of interception by conifers in North America (9) indicates greater interception loss for pine species and other conifers than for deciduous forests. Thus, since evaporative processes involved are universal, a trend toward streamflow reductions when deciduous hardwood stands are converted to pine might be expected in other regions.” (Swank, Douglass 1974:858-859)

Journal article
Conversion of Hardwood-Covered Watersheds to White Pine Reduces Water YieldWater Resources ResearchFebruary 6, 2008
W. T. Swank, N. H. Miner

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