There are a few types of pine trees that grow well in San Diego, California. The needle-leaved evergreens bring ornamental color and pine fragrance to the landscape, and many of them grow up to 100 feet tall. San Diego is located in U.S. Department of Agriculture cold hardy zone 10a and 10b, where winter temperatures rarely dip below freezing, so these pines don't have to tolerate extreme cold.
Considerations for Growing Pines in San Diego
Soil moisture is one of the most important considerations for successfully growing pines in the area, according to the Master Gardeners of San Diego. The organization recommends watering the pine periodically and deeply during dry weather. Mulch around the pine's base helps keep the soil moist and cool as well. To stimulate growth, apply nitrogen during winter, otherwise don't fertilize or severely prune the pine trees. If you do need to prune the tree, do so between November and January, when adult beetles are not a threat.
The Torrey pine (Pinus torreyana) is known as a tough pine that can flourish along San Diego's coast. It can endure sea winds, bad soil, drought and intense sun. The five-needled pine has "strobili" -- flowers -- that bloom in February in the mild San Diego weather. These flowers look like a small red cone. The Torrey pine has about 100 seeds and they are edible nuts. In a private landscape with rich soil and moderate water, the pine quickly grows up to 50 feet tall.
The Monterey pine (Pinus radiata D. Don) can grow up to 100 feet tall, making it a commanding presence in the San Diego landscape. The pine is known as a closed-cone pine -- the cones stay closed for years, and even after they open, they stay attached to the branches. The Monterey pine grows in full sun or part shade with moderate water. It has a wide-spread root system that helps stabilize slopes.
The ornamental Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) is known for its deep-green color and pleasant pine fragrance. The tree grows quickly and can reach heights up to 150 feet; it grows best in open space. It thrives in well-drained soil with moderate water, but is heat and drought tolerant once established. The roots are a good anchor so the pine is a good choice for erosion control and windbreaks in a San Diego landscape.
- United States National Arboretum: United States Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zone Map
- Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve; The Torrey Pine; Hank Nichol
- Understanding Evolution; The Monterey Pine Through Geologic Time; Frank Perry; 2004
- United States Department of Agriculture; Plant Guide; Ponderosa Pine
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