Weeping White Pine

A Few Facts About The Weeping White Pine

To say the Weeping white pine, Pinus strobus 'Pendula', is an attractive tree is quite an understatement. The Weeping white pine is a conifer, and an evergreen, and unlike most pine trees which are characterized by individual branches consisting mostly of "dead" zone, this species features beautiful cascading branches covered with soft needles. The cascading effect is even more striking when cones are present. The oblong cones, rather than growing out, or upright, appear to follow the path of the cascading branches.


Growth Characteristics - The Weeping white pine is a small to medium sized evergreen, normally growing to a height of anywhere between 10' and 20', and usually spreads out to between 8' and 10'. The Weeping white pine must be supported if substantial vertical growth is desired, and can be at its most attractive when trained. If unsupported it will often take on the characteristics of a low spreading bush or a ground cover rather than that of an upright tree. These characteristics however may make it just the right choice for a rock garden or anywhere in the garden where you may want the branches to cascade over rocks or structures. The tree is hardy in most USDA zones (3 through 9) and is at its best in cooler climates. In warmer zones it is best planted where it gets at least partial shades, as it does not always tolerate very hot conditions for an extended period, not is it particularly drought tolerant. Still, it will do well in fairly dry soil as long as it gets water on occasion. Like other conifers it does best in full sun, but will also tolerate partial shade. Too much shade will often result in a slower growing tree with sparse limbs and an unattractive shape. The pine will grow at a rate of about a foot a year.

There Is Also A Dwarf Variety - The needles are bluish green and extremely soft. They are also aromatic and as such attract butterflies. The bark is smooth and gray, becoming a darker gray as the tree ages. As one might expect, this tree is a beauty at all times of the year and may be near its best when covered by a light snowfall. Like other weeping trees, such as the Weeping cherry, Weeping beech, and other weeping conifers, the Weeping white pine is usually planted as a specimen plant. There is dwarf version of this beautiful tree, the Dwarf Weeping white pine, Pinus Strobus “Niagara Falls”, which according to some is an improved version of the standard tree, being fuller in appearance. The dwarf variety has only been on the market for a little over 10 years, and may still be difficult to find in some areas.

Pruning Considerations - Since this is a tree that takes well to training, an obvious question that comes up is whether it takes to pruning. Some conifers take to pruning better than others, but one has to be cautious, especially where pines are concerned. One of the characteristics of conifers is that the new needles form at the ends of the branches. This is particularly noticeable when observing most pine trees, where the needles are at or near the very tips of the branches. There can be several years worth of new needles at the end of a branch and if the branch is cut too far back, these will be lost and the branch will die. You can cut back from the tip, but only where there are still green needles.  If you prune back to a green needle, new buds will often form. Prune back to where there are no green needles, and the branch is lost. Pruning a Weeping white pine then is best done to remove dead or diseased or unattractive branches. When pruned to improve aesthetic appeal, pruning must be done with caution.