How to Grow and Care for Lacebark Pine

These pine trees have distinctive bark that looks like camouflage

Lacebark pine (Pinus bungeana) photo from the base of the trunk upwards.

 Oleg Charykov / Getty Images

Native to northern and eastern China, lacebark pine (Pinus bungeana) is a great shade tree that is low maintenance and easy to care for. Its mottled bark sets it apart from other pine species and is especially noticeable in the winter months. Layers of green, yellow, brown, purple, and red bark stand in stark contrast to the white snow backdrop. 

This species of pine is usually not as readily available at nurseries and garden centers and most other pines, so it may require some hunting around to find some. It will be worth the wait though! Lacebark pines are easy to care for, less prone to common pests and diseases as other pines, moderately drought tolerant, and can tolerate a wider range of soil acidity than most other pine species. Learn how to grow these unique pine trees on your property below.

Botanical Name Pinus bungeana
Common Name Lacebark pine, white-barked pine, Bunge's pine
Plant Type Evergreen tree
Mature Size 30-50' tall
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Moist, well-drained
Soil pH 5.0-8.0
Bloom Time Summer
Flower Color Inconspicuous
Hardiness Zones 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Native Area China
Lacebark pine (Pinus bungeana) bark close up shot.
 colimachon / Getty Images

How to Grow Lacebark Pine

Lacebark pines, also commonly referred to as Bunge’s pines and white-barked pines, are slow-growing evergreen trees that are hardy in winter temperatures as low as -26 degrees Celsius. Generally, lacebark pine trees appreciate plenty of light and regular watering but can be classified as moderately drought-tolerant. They are low-maintenance, and once established can be left to grow outside independently. Lacebark pine trees reac`h up to 15-25m tall in full maturity.

Lacebark pine tree bark peels gradually over time, usually starting once the tree is about ten years old. The green bark peels away in oval-shaped disks to reveal yellow-brown undertones that turn olive-brown, purple, and red over time. The resulting look is camouflage-like and provides year-round interest.

Light

These pine trees perform best in full sun environments, so growing locations should be chosen carefully for lacebark pines. Loss of needles or stunted growth are both indicators that lacebark pines are not receiving enough light. 

Soil

Like most pines, lacebark pines prefer slightly acidic soil, although lacebark pines can tolerate soils with a higher pH than most other pine species. They enjoy soils that are well-drained, and consistently moist. Lacebark pines should not be exposed to soils that are especially wet or dry for long periods of time.

Water

Lacebark pine trees appreciate consistently moist soil, especially when they are still maturing. Lacebark pine saplings should be watered regularly until they are well-established. Once established, a lacebark pine tree usually does not require supplemental waterings and is somewhat drought tolerant. However, during abnormally long dry periods, lacebark pine trees can benefit from supplemental waterings to help support healthy growth. 

Temperature and Humidity

USDA Hardiness Zones 4-8 are best for lacebark pines, and they can withstand winter temperatures as low as -26 degrees Celsius. They are moderately drought tolerant pine trees that thrive in moist, humid soil conditions, but generally tolerate a wide range of humidity conditions within their growing zones.

Fertilizer

Lacebark pines do not require regular fertilizing. However, if desired, a light feeding in the early spring of a balanced fertilizer can help give the tree a boost.

Pruning

Pruning lacebark pine trees is mainly for aesthetic purposes. Generally, lacebark pines do not require regular pruning. However, depending on the desired look - lacebark pines can be pruned into a single-trunked or multi-trunked tree. They are also great trees for bonsai.

Varieties of Lacebark Pine

There are two varieties of lacebark pine, which vary in appearance and growth habit. These include:

  • Pinus bungeana ‘Silver Ghost’: A variety of lacebark pine whose mottled bark is silvery-gray. 
  • Pinus bungeana ‘Temple Gem’: A compact, slow-growing lacebark pine cultivator.

Common Pests/Diseases

Pine trees are susceptible to a wide range of common pests and diseases, but fortunately, lacebark pine trees are slightly less susceptible to most of these pests and diseases than other pine species. Keep an eye out for pests like aphids, borers, caterpillars, mealybugs, weevils, western pine beetles, engraver beetles, and red turpentine beetles; as well as common diseases such cankers, rusts, diplodia tip blight, and pine wilt. Generally, if treated properly these pests and diseases do not affect the long-term health of the tree. 

Damage by strong winds and storms actually poses a larger risk to the long-term health of lacebark pines than any common pest or disease. The bark of these pines is brittle and branches can crack easily. Single-trunked trees have stronger branches and usually withstand less damage than multi-trunked trees.