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The Fern pine is a dense and fine-textured plant that is commonly grown as a single trunk tree attaining sizes up to 40-60 ft. tall and 25-40 ft. wide. While it does not produce colorful flowers, it is appreciated for its graceful character as a result of its soft texture and pale evergreen foliage color. It is also planted and maintained as a large hedge and screen plant to separate properties and hide wall surfaces where it easily adapts with pruning and shearing. Female plants can produce large numbers of fleshy cones as they mature that are problematic around pavement; male plants are often preferred as a result.

Fern pines are highly adaptable for use as a tree or a hedge in many garden and landscape situations throughout the Inland Empire. You will commonly see them grown as street trees and as shade trees in parks and residential settings. Be sure to plant in spaces that are large enough to accommodate their long-term size. The best growth is achieved when planted in deep, well-draining soils with moderate amounts of regular moisture throughout the year.

Water Needs

The Fern pine is well adapted to full sun exposures throughout the Inland Empire and grows best with moderate amounts of supplemental water during the summer. The chart shown below provides a baseline guide to the monthly irrigation schedule and volume of supplemental water needed to maintain healthy growth throughout the average year. It should be noted there are several months indicated by an asterisk (*) when winter rains can provide sufficient moisture and irrigation is not needed.

Irrigation Schedule and Graph

Moderate Water Use Plants

Irrigation Schedule 4

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
Runs per Month 0x to 3x 0x to 3x 0x to 3x 2x to 3x 2x to 3x 3x to 4x 3x to 4x 3x to 4x 2x to 3x 2x to 3x 0x to 3x 0x to 3x
Inches per Run 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1"
Inches per Month 0" to 3" 0" to 3" 0" to 3" 2" to 3" 2" to 3" 3" to 4" 3" to 4" 3" to 4" 2" to 3" 2" to 3" 0" to 3" 0" to 3"

Range of supplemental summer water: 17"-24"
Range of supplemental winter water: 0"-15"

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
For more information on how to use this Irrigation Schedule and Graph, follow this link.

For information how to calculate your irrigation system’s schedule and precipitation rate, please follow this link.

Plant Properties

Plant Type: Tree
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Mounding, Graceful, Dense
Growth Rate: Moderate
Height: 40 ft. - 60 ft.
Width: 25 ft. - 40 ft.
Water Needs: Moderate 4
Foliage Color: Pale green, Blue green
Flower Color: Insignificant
Flower Season: Spring
Soil Adaptations: Loam, Deep soil, Clay
Exposure Adaptations: All day sun, Partial sun
Function: Shade Tree, Screening, Parks and open space, Foundations, Commercial spaces, Background plant


This is a large tree, so make sure you have enough room to accommodate it when mature. With effort and regular pruning, it can also be maintained as a large hedge. Organic mulch of 3-4 inch depth under canopy, but held away from trunk and root crown is ideal. Best planted fall to early spring. Prune in late fall, into winter (D).



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