Canadian Pine Trees in Florida

Overview

"Canadian pine" is an ambiguous term assigned to pine species (Pinus) native to Canada, but perhaps also to designate an aesthetic of artificial Christmas tree or garland product. Many pines grow naturally in Canada, but none with common name of "Canadian pine" according to the Tree Canada website. Canada's summers are cooler and winters longer and significantly colder than those in Florida.

Types

Of the 16 different native and exotic species of pine grown in Canada listed on the Tree Canada website, only one species, eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), can potentially be grown in Florida, according to a comparative list from the University of Florida.

Geography

With no definite species associated with the term "Canadian pine," any pine successfully grown in Canada tolerates the variable climates, elevations or soils there. The same is true for native Florida pines. The University of Florida notes that although eastern white pine is not native to Florida, it can survive and grow in the inland, coldest winter counties in the northwestern panhandle. Here winter lows dip down to 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit (USDA hardiness zone 8a). Elsewhere in Florida the winter lows are rarely below freezing.

Climate Considerations

Whichever Canadian species of pine is relocated to a garden in Florida must assimilate to Florida's climate or perish. Pines in Canada grow in cool maritime regions along the West Coast, in mountain elevations or the cool-summer and cold-winter prairies and forests of the East. Florida's climate is not comparable. Canadian pines in Florida face lack of winter cold and increased exposure to heat and more intense summer sun rays.

Effects

Northern pine tree species are not well-suited to Florida. While planting a young Canadian pine in a Florida landscape may prove successful initially, that pine must contend with intense heat and increased need for watering. Different pests and diseases exist in Florida and remain active longer across the growing season than in Canada. Lack of a definite, cold-induced winter dormancy causes the plant to reduce vigor and eventually die regardless of watering or fertilizing regimen.

Solution

Rather than invest resources in relocating, planting and trying to get a Canadian pine tree species to grow and prosper in Florida, choose a native Florida pine that is naturally adapted to the conditions. Canadian native plants will not succeed unless placed in an unusually cold microclimate outdoors, or in a chilled sunroom or glasshouse. These are conditions that people use in alpine houses to overwinter and grow cold-loving alpine shrubs and wildflowers according to the "A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants."

Keywords: Canadian pine, Florida gardening, growing pines Florida

About this Author

James Burghardt became a full-time writer in 2008 with articles appearing on Web sites like eHow and GardenGuides. He's gardened and worked professionally at gardens in Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. He holds a graduate diploma in environmental horticulture from the University of Melbourne, Australia and a Master of Science in public horticulture from the University of Delaware.