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How to propagate pine?

 
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Hey all, first time posting here There's a pine growing near me in Brooklyn (city property, not in someone's yard) and I'd love to try and take some cuttings. Anybody have recommendations for what kind of cuttings to take, and whether they'll be able to root in water or soil?

I'm a novice with tree taxonomy, but it has a lot of characteristics of a pine tree, and definitely has that pine sap smell.

Thanks for any help
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pollinator
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Hi Leon, and welcome to permies! Pine can be grown from cuttings, but I think it's trickier than lots of other plants. You'll get the best chances of success if you keep the cuttings from drying out, so that means removing some of the needles and covering them to get the humidity up. Too much moisture and they could get attacked by mold, so it's a balancing act. A cover that can be opened a little bit once a day or so helps.

Also, light is good, but direct sun may be too much. As far as types of cuttings, you might want to try some softwood (growing tips) and hardwood (last year's growth) and see which works.

Pine tree cloning is a big industry here in NZ. Much of the Pinus radiata planted for commercial harvest is genetically identical...literally one tree planted millions of times. Monoculture on steroids. Some of us don't think this is the most prudent way to roll, given how pests and diseases tend to spread...but so far disaster has not struck.
 
gardener
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Keep an eye out for seedlings near the tree.  Starts out as a little stalk with 2 pine needles on it. They propagate automatically in my field from the trees on the other side of the road because the seeds travel like little helicopters.
 
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Hi.  I'm in Australia, Western Australia to be precise.  I grew a couple of stone pine trees from seed.  That may be your best bet.  I bought my seed.  But, if you can collect pine cones from the ground around the tree, just put them somewhere warm and dry and they should open up and release their seeds.  Then you need to put the seeds through a cold phase.  Since you guys are going into Spring up there in North America, if you can find pine cones on the ground with seeds (that is, an unopened pinecone), then put it somewhere warm and dry and apparently when it's dry enough, it will open up and release the seeds.  If you live in a cold area, then the pine seeds will have naturally gone through their necessary cold phase.  So if you can get seeds like this, put them in water to soak and the ones that sink are good to plant.  I had to put my seeds in the fridge for a few months (in a closable container in slightly damp coco peat - or you could use peat moss) for a few months to give them their cold phase.  I planted my seeds into paper tubes so that when they were big enough to plant out (about 6 inches high and with a few little branches),  I just popped the whole tube into the ground without disturbing the roots at all.  I watered my little babies for the first year (aboput 2 or 3 liters of water once a week) and even though their second summer in the ground (Dec 2021 - Feb 2022) was very dry - 5 months with no rain and lots of days over 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fhrenheit), I only watered them twice and the little babies are now big babies - about 3 feet high.  I couldn't believe how well they grew in one hot, dry season.  But, we only get really light frosts here and we don't really have winter - no snow, we can grow veggies over winter, etc.  Meaning, the pine trees don't really go dormant here and probably grow a little even over winter when the days are short and only warm, not hot and we get our seasonal rains.  So I recommend seed if you can get it.  PS: stone pine are the ones which give edible pine nuts.  That's why I chose stone pine.  I have two of them out of 6 seeds.  If you live in poace with cold winters, you may want to do some internet research on how long to keep them in pots or paper tubes before planting out.  I grew my seedlings in tubers for just one summer and then planted them out in autumn.  SO, to be clear, my seedlings have had one summer in tubes and two summers in the ground and are about 3 feet tall.
 
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G'day, MS, and welcome.

Most of the gymnosperms round here are yew (Taxus baccata) and we know that isn't edible. Except to the birds, which produce yew seedlings a few inches from where they sit on top of the fence. So we don't need to propagate yew. There are also a few Scots pines (Pinus silvestris). Are they edible too?
 
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I've found that sowing mature seed collected from the dropped, drying cones works well. No treatment necessary.  I've used this for Stone Pines here in Western Australia,  grown from my own seed sown tree which us now very big!
 
pollinator
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Leon Rosalia wrote:Hey all, first time posting here There's a pine growing near me in Brooklyn (city property, not in someone's yard) and I'd love to try and take some cuttings. Anybody have recommendations for what kind of cuttings to take, and whether they'll be able to root in water or soil?
I'm a novice with tree taxonomy, but it has a lot of characteristics of a pine tree, and definitely has that pine sap smell.
Thanks for any help



Glad to see you put out a first post Hurray! Welcome to the site!
You did not mention what *kind* of pine you would want to root. Some may be easier to root than others. If you could upload a pic, Permies would help you find what kind they are. Or ask your local state nursery. County nurseries also sell young plants in the reforesting effort.
There appears to be a way to make cuttings of pine, but considering that a lot can go wrong in the year they may take to root, that may not be as easy as other methods.
https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/trees/pine/rooting-pine-tree-cuttings.htm#:~:text=You%20can%20take%20cuttings%20from,%2Dautumn%2C%20or%20in%20midwinter.
I would suggest that as soon as the snow is off but before new growth starts, you take a walk in those woods and look for baby pines, no taller than 9". They are easy to transplant without damaging the roots.
These would keep genetic diversity in your woods. It would be a small pine that has already survived one winter in your neck of the woods. It would be a whole lot easier and quicker than attempting cuttings. You could also plant it directly with virtually zero transplant shock. If you miss this early spring window, there is also a Fall window when you can do the same thing. You might also want to put the word out to your neighbors -who may know which pine you want to propagate-. They just might give you a hand. I had a neighbor who had a forest run over by white pine [Pinus Strobus] and she said we could have any young ones we wanted.
Alternatively, you could start from seeds. You could choose the pine you want.
Seeds are more expensive than I thought but you would be pretty much assured that they have good germination. Alternatively, you could also go get some cones when they just fell and keep them warm until they release their seeds.
Here are many sites for buying seeds. They seem to be pretty similar in prices:
https://www.coldstreamfarm.net/product/white-pine-pinus-strobus/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwuMuRBhCJARIsAHXdnqPrYgVhcmszUADLDVuMRKZYNBmn1M_-1wyNp5cZeBUpbnLXfYWb2ekaAs-TEALw_wcB
 
pollinator
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I agree that it would be most helpful if you knew what kind of pine it is. If it's a classic White Pine let me know. I live in a white pine and balsam fir forest and have thousands of pines and firs. I could probably find a way to send you a sapling (although it's probably illegal to mail plants out of state). I live in the White Mountains of NH. I also have a lot of Tamarack trees. I think they are also called American larch. They are unusual because they lose their needles in the winter. They make ideal trees to plant on your south side as they will provide shade in the Summer, but as they drop their needles in the winter they allow the Winter sun to warm your home. All of these trees self sow at an amazing rate. Grey Birch is also a fast grower.
 
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Honestly, the easiest way? Look up what kind of pine it is, and since Arbor Day is coming up, check the Arbor Day Foundation list and get free seedlings from them. Your tree will be much sturdier and more hearty, and because of genetic diversity it can pollinate with the nearby tree(s). Here in Indiana where we have lots of pine, mostly white pine, they will spring up anywhere EXCEPT where you want them. Transplanting a seedling is seriously much much easier. Most pines, in my experience, grow much better from seed than cuttings, unfortunately. Part of the problem is that resinous pine sap will seep out of the cut edge and harden to a coating, which is what it’s supposed to do, but no rooting that way.
 
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Here, too (southern Oregon), the pines do a commendable job of propagating themselves. Within the cone, each Ponderosa 'bract' has 2 seeds attached, via little (as he said) helicopter blades. But often the tree will drop the cone before the seeds all have fallen away, and those you can remove by hand (or glove!), and stick in a pot of dirt. It might take a month or so for a seed to sprout, I'm not sure. Many will fall where you don't want them; if you find them soon enough, you can use a trowel to lift the seed, the 3" long tap-root, and the surrounding dirt, and put the whole shebang in a pot. Once the taproot gets to 5 or 6" long, it's harder to lift it without breaking off the tip, which contains the root's growing point.

Sometimes also, I will find, in a pot where I put some other seed, a volunteer pine-let, whose seed was hiding in my home-mixed potting soil. Anyway, there are several roads to success, without necessarily using a live cutting.

Good luck!
 
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