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How to Prune Longleaf Pine

Longleaf pine, also known as pinus palustris, is an evergreen pine tree that grows best in the southern United States. The longleaf pine can be identified by its long needles that grow in bunches. The longleaf pine can live up to 500 years old and grows best in sandy, well-drained soil.

Wear proper pruning gear. When pruning spiny trees like the longleaf pine, take precautions to prevent injury. This includes wearing gardening gloves, a long-sleeved shirt and long pants to protect your skin from sharp branches and pine needles.

Prune once when the longleaf pine is between 15 and 20 feet tall, preferably in the winter or fall. Only prune the first 10 feet of the tree.

Prune the longleaf pine again when the tree is between 35 and 40 feet. Only prune the first 17 feet of the tree. You will most likely need a ladder to accomplish this task. Have a partner hold the base of the ladder to prevent it from wobbling.

Avoid pruning too much or too often. Longleaf pines do not need to be pruned every year, and while pruning, you should not remove any more than half of the tree's branches and foliage.

Cut each branch with pruning shears or a pruning saw, leaving a 1/4-inch nub on the branch. Avoid cutting into the trunk of the tree, or you risk growth problems or scarring.

Steps To Plant Longleaf Pine Seeds

Gather longleaf pine seeds in late autumn after the cones have ripened and begun to split open. Put the bag in a very warm, dry area for six to eight weeks, or until they drop their seeds. Determine which seeds are viable. Throw away seeds that float to the surface since they are probably hollow or rotten. Sow the seeds in individual 4-inch pots filled with a mix of equal parts medium-grit sand, perlite and sterile potting soil. Water the seeds whenever the sand mixture feels barely damp in the top inch. Avoid overwatering the seeds or letting them dry out completely because either situation will lower the likelihood of successful germination. Watch for sprouting in two to six weeks. Continue to water it whenever the sand mixture dries out slightly. Grow the seedling in bright, indirect light for its first summer.


Remove all branch clippings from the base of the longleaf tree.


Keep pruning shears and pruning saws out of the reach of children.

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