The longleaf pine once dominated the pine forests of the southeastern United States. When young, it stays in the "grassy" stage just above ground level for three to eight years before growing rapidly into a tree. When the longleaf is in the grassy stage, it is resistant to wildfires but has trouble competing with other plants on the forest floor. That, coupled with modern fire suppression techniques, has decreased the number of longleaf pines in the southern forests. You can find longleaf pine seedlings grown in containers, but you need to follow certain procedures when you plant container longleaf seedlings.
Choose a well-drained area to plant your longleaf pine tree. Also, choose an area where you will not accidentally mow over the tree while it is still in its grassy stage. Leave enough room for a large tree and do not plant it under or near septic or utility lines.
Clear the area of weeds and debris and rake it smooth. Place a 36-inch long metal or wooden garden stake into the ground next the spot where the longleaf pine will be planted so you will know where it is. Stepping on or driving over a seedling you've nurtured for five years is an agonizing experience.
Dig a hole and plant the seedling at the same depth at which it is planted in the container, not any deeper. A longleaf pine seedling may die if planted only slightly deeper than is necessary. Ensure the bud, or area where the pine needles are coming out of the crown, is above the soil line and planted so that soil will not wash into or over the bud.
Fill the planting hole with the soil removed from the hole without adding amendments or fertilizers. The tree must become accustomed to the native soil where it is planted. Add water to the soil as you add it to the planting hole so there are no air pockets left around the roots.