How to grow Pine, Juniper & Spruce

Most evergreens prefer moist, well drained soils. Cedars, however, are the exception, and will tolerate wet soils, whereas pine and spruce hate to have wet feet. Evergreens generally prefer sunny locations. The following will grow in moderate shade: Austrian Pine, Cedar, Japanese Yew, Andora and Spartan Junipers, to name a few.

Evergreens should be fertilized early in the spring or late in the fall after growth stops. Use evergreen fertilizer or Iron Plus® 12-4-8 fertilizer at the rate of 100g per 15m² (4 oz. per 10 sq ft) of soil. Spread uniformly underneath the plants.

Evergreens should be pruned to maintain the symmetry and beauty of the specimen and to correct any faults. All evergreens adapt themselves more or less to pruning any time during the year, however, June and July are ideal. A second light pruning can be done at the end of September.
Before the plants reach their ultimate size in the landscape, they should be pruned. Once an evergreen outgrows its given space, it is next to impossible to cut it back more than 15cm (6″) without spoiling it.

  1. Pruning Junipers
– When pruning spreading evergreens, you should try to maintain their natural shape. Cut back each branch close to young new growth, which will hide the wound. Upright Junipers can be sheared in June or July to maintain shape and compact growth. The pruning process will make the plant fuller.
  • Pruning Pine
  • – Mugho Pine are trimmed to ensure compact growth; this is done when the ‘candle’ or new growth is still soft and growing so that new buds will be formed on the pinched candle. If trimming is delayed until growth has stopped new buds do not form and unsightly stubs are left. The end of June and/or beginning of July is the time to prune Mugho Pine. Mugho Pine are normally pruned yearly and about half of the new candle length is removed. Pruning older wood does not improve the habit of loose-growing specimens, as growth is not regenerated from old stems.
  • Pruning Scotch Pine
  • – Pruning this variety ensures compactness. In the last week of June or the first week of July, the terminal and side branches can be pruned to about 30cm (12″) and 20cm (8″) respectively. At this time, a cluster of new buds will form just below where the cut was made. The pruning period for pine in general is critical because at other times the stubs do not produce buds and will die. Therefore, you cannot prune second or third year growth because no adventitious buds are present to produce new shoots.
  • Pruning Spruce
  • – Spruce trees can also be made thicker and more compact by pruning. Spruce form side buds along their twigs and the pruning should be done in such a way that some of the side buds are left to develop new growth.
    Pruning of spruce is not so time critical as it is with pine and it may be delayed until late summer.

    If the candle-like new tips (not growth from the previous years) of pine are pruned in the late spring while still young, numerous branches will form next growing season. If the practise is continued each spring, trees will be densely foliaged.

    New evergreen plantings will benefit from mulching the root area with The Grower’s Choice Landscape Forest Mulch. This prevents freezing and thawing during the winter months. Evergreen plants will also benefit by a thorough watering in late fall. This will supply the tree tissue with moisture and reduce its chances or drying out.

    Tender evergreens in exposed locations need to be wrapped loosely in burlap to further reduce the drying effect of winter sun and wind, (example: Berkman’s Gold Cedar).

    Evergreens subject to damage from heavy snow falling off roofs or possible damage from freezing rain should be tied with twine or covered with plastic evergreen wrap.

    In autumn the inside (3 year old needles) of Junipers and Cedars turn brown. This is particularly noticeable on newly planted cedars.

    Pine and spruce drop one year’s growth of needles; on Scotch Pines the 3 year old needles turn yellowish then fall off. White pine normally keep only 1 or 2 year’s growth of needles.

    This shedding operation is normal and as long as the outside tips are green the plant is quite healthy.


    Courtesy White Rose Nursery.