How to Grow a Pine Tree in a Container

If you like trees, or if pine trees are native to your area, but you have little space for a full-grown pine tree, it's possible to grow one in a container, just like any other potted plant. Evergreens, conifers in particular, are best suited for container growth because they require less food and nutrients than broad-leaved species, according to Rich Binsacca of, and they are very tolerant of root restriction, which is bound to happen to a container plant.

You can grow your own tabletop Christmas tree.

Step 1

Select a slow growing, dwarf variety, recommends Norfolk pines are often grown in containers, both indoors and outdoors, but other varieties are also an option because a container restricts the plant's root growth and also its size.

Step 2

Make your own potting mix from a combination of compost and perlite or pumice. One part perlite or pumice and two parts compost will ensure that the mixture drains well but also retains water long enough for the roots to absorb it.

Step 3

Select a pot that is twice the width and depth of the root ball in the nursery pot. The rule of thumb for potting trees is 1 foot of diameter for every 4 feet of tree height, according to Binsacca. Clay pots dry out faster than plastic ones, but clay pots are also much heavier, which is something to consider if you're worried about wind knocking over the tree.

Step 4

Remove the nursery plant from its pot and loosen the roots gently. Put it back in the nursery pot and add enough soil beneath the root ball to bring the root ball in line with the top of the pot. Tamp the soil gently, not firmly around the tree. Leave about an inch between the top of the soil and the rim of the pot for watering the tree.

Step 5

Water the tree when the top inch of soil is dry. Water it deeply, until water runs out the bottom of the pot and discard any water in the collection tray, if there is one. If the tree needs daily watering, it's a sign it has outgrown its pot and should be repotted.

Step 6

Prune back the roots or repot the pine in a larger container. The Oregon State University Extension recommends removing the tree from its pot and pruning back the roots by a third then putting it back in the pot. If you're repotting it in a larger container, remember the rule of thumb: 1 foot of diameter for every 4 feet of tree height.

Step 7

Protect the potted tree from cold by moving it to a cold greenhouse or unheated porch, or wrapping the pot in blankets.