How to Grow and Care for Aleppo Pine

Aleppo pine tree with long thin needles surrounding branches with pine cones hanging

The Spruce / K. Dave

The Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis), also known as the Jerusalem pine, is an evergreen conifer that has adapted to growing in warm, dry conditions. It is sometimes grown as a living Christmas tree. It is related to fir trees, spruce trees, cedars, hemlocks, and the larches, which are deciduous conifers. Each leaf bundle (fascicle) contains two or sometimes three needles, and each thin needle is 2 to 4 inches long. Able to grow about 1 foot a year, the tree reaches a full size of anywhere from 30 to 80 feet tall with a similar spread; the ultimate size depends on the growing conditions. It grows in an irregular shape and is best planted during the late summer months of August and September. 

Botanical Name Pinus halepensis
Common Name Aleppo pine, Jerusalem pine
Family Pinaceae
Plant Type Tree
Mature Size 30 to 60 ft. tall, 20 to 40 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full
Soil Type Loamy, sandy
Soil pH Acidic, neutral, alkaline
Hardiness Zones 8, 9, 10
Native Area Mediterranean

Aleppo Pine Care

Aleppo pine trees don't require much maintenance—if it gets direct sunlight, it will most likely continue to grow. When the Aleppo pine is purchased as a living Christmas tree, choose a location and dig the hole ahead of time so it is ready when the season is over. Move the tree in and out of the house over a period of time to harden it off and prevent shock before planting it outdoors. If you don't have enough room in your yard, arrange ahead of time to donate it to a local park.

Aleppo pine tree with irregular-shaped bright green branches behind stone wall

The Spruce / K. Dave

Aleppo pine tree branch with long bright green needles and pointed pine cones hanging

The Spruce / K. Dave

Light

Choose a planting site where the tree receives full sun throughout the day. Because it grows into a tall tree, it shades the areas below it. Choose plants for the surrounding area that tolerate some shade. The tree grows rapidly and requires a lot of space.

Soil

This tree can handle a wide range of soil pH levels from acidic to alkaline. It can also grow in a wide range of soils as long as it drains well, although loamy or sandy loam soil best mimics its native area.

Water

The Aleppo pine can resist drought, though the needles sometimes turn yellow or drop off. It does best if it receives a few waterings a month, especially during the first year to help the roots grow properly and create a strong structure that can find water in times of need.

Temperature and Humidity

Aleppo pine trees thrive in warm climates like their native Mediterranean region and are one of the most drought-tolerant of all pines. In the U.S., the Aleppo is a popular ornamental tree in hot, dry areas such as the Southwest. The Aleppo's tolerance for heat and drought and its fast growth are highly valued in these areas.

Fertilizer

Fertilizer application can cause an overgrowth of the Aleppo pine, so it is not recommended.

Pruning

The Aleppo pine tree does not require pruning unless you are taking out a wayward branch or removing parts that are dead, diseased, or damaged. You can control growth and shape to some degree by removing the conifer candles—new growth—when they first appear.

Propagating the Aleppo Pine

Propagation is usually carried out through seed germination. You can also take cuttings from the tree in its early years, though they can be slow to take root and grow, assuming they gain a foothold at all.

How to Grow Aleppo Pine From Seed

Collect the seeds from the Aleppo Pine as the cones open up. Clean the seeds and drop them into a container of room temperature water for 48 hours, replacing the water once after 24 hours. After this soaking, place the seeds in a container with peat moss or sand. You want the medium to be damp, but not wet.

Store the seeds in the refrigerator for 60 to 90 days. After the time is up, plant the seeds in growing trays or cups, sowing them at a shallow depth in a mixture of 2 parts potting soil, 1 part peat moss, and 1 part perlite. Keep 1 inch of space between the seeds. Cover the seeds lightly with soil and keep them in sunlight. The soil should remain damp but not wet.

Pull smaller, weaker seedlings. Let the remaining seedlings grow to 3 to 4 inches before transplanting them into pots for additional growth. Harden them off over a few months to prepare them for planting.

Overwintering

When the plant is small, protect the developing roots with a layer of mulch when cold weather rolls in. After a few years, there will be no need for overwintering precautions.

Common Pests and Plant Diseases

Diseases you may encounter with the Aleppo pine include Aleppo pine blight, dieback, phytophthora, pine pitch canker, and root rot. Fortunately, these issues tend to occur in immature trees, during a time when they can be replaced by a new, heartier tree.

Pests that attack include aphids, pine wilt nematode, spider mites, and bark beetles. While most of these can be effectively treated and allow the tree to continue to grow, pine wilt nematode is a whole other beast. Often the only real treatment is removing the tree before the problem can spread to other trees in the area.

FAQ
  • How long can Aleppo pine live?

    These trees can live up to 150 years or more in the right conditions.

  • What plants are similar to Aleppo pine?

    The Model pine, also known as the Afghan pine, has a shape more like a traditional Christmas tree. The Afghan pine thrives in the same conditions as the Aleppo pine.

  • How fast does Aleppo pine grow?

    An Aleppo pine can grow about 10 inches per year and perhaps a bit more if the conditions are ideal.