Pine trees are abundant in Phoenix, providing shade and adding the beauty of their evergreen color to homeowners’ yards, parks, golf courses and office complexes. Perhaps more associated with higher elevations, certain varieties of pine trees can do quite well in the hot, dry desert climate of southern Arizona provided they are supplied with sufficient water. During the hottest times of the year, pine trees may drop some of their needles if they become too thirsty. On the other hand, in the warm desert areas of Arizona, pine trees can be planted as late as October and still have time to grow roots, even with the arrival of cooler temperatures.
Aleppo pines have been found in the warmer areas of the southwestern United States for more than 100 years. These trees, native to the Mediterranean, were brought to Arizona by early pioneers. These trees were once prized for their valuable resin. Aleppo pines can thrive in the hot and dry conditions in the lower deserts. Reaching heights of up to 80 feet, Aleppo pines are popular sources of shade for neighborhoods in Phoenix and other metro areas.
In the heat of the summer, Aleppo pines may develop patches of dead needles. The remedy is to deeply water the tree to combat the heat stress. These pine trees may also suffer a summer infestation of mites, indicated by damage to the new growth on the outside branches. Miticide sprays are available to combat this problem.
Another popular shade tree for desert regions of Arizona is the Afghan pine. It can reach heights of 75 feet or more and provides a shady canopy nearly 30 feet wide. Also called the Mondell pine or the Eldarica pine, the tree does well during the heat and drought of the summertime. Homeowners who choose this tree must be aware that it will continually drop needles and cones, so some raking of the debris may be required to keep the area around the tree looking neat. The tree grows rapidly and requires only a moderate amount of water. These trees are sometimes planted in a row to create a landscape border effect.
Canary Island Pine Tree
The Canary Island pine tree is also drought tolerant. The tree grows 50 to 80 feet tall and provides ample shade with its 30-foot canopy. The tree has thin blue-green needles that can grow to nearly a foot in length. The pine cones are brown and shiny. The tree grows relatively quickly. In the spring, delicate beige flowers pop out on the ends of the tree’s branches. It has a handsome pyramidal shape and grows very upright. The tree is native to the Canary Islands Archipelago, where it can reach heights of nearly 200 feet.