How to Grow and Care for Foxtail Pine

Botanical NamePinus balfouriana
Common NameFoxtail pine
Plant TypeEvergreen
Mature Size30-50 ft. tall, 10-15 ft. wide
Sun ExposureFull, partial
Soil TypeLoamy, Sandy, Well-drained
Soil pHAcidic
Bloom TimeNot applicable
Flower ColorNot applicable
Hardiness Zones4-7, USA
Native AreaNorth America

Foxtail Pine Care

These rare trees are designed for the harsh climates of high-altitude mountain slopes. This means the more favorable growing conditions of the garden can prove challenging for these trees. They can be a bit tricky to grow in the usual landscape settings, though they are popular to keep as bonsai trees. If you want to grow it as a bonsai, you only have to wait until the tree is about a foot tall. Remove the tap root and and major sink roots, leaving only the thin fibrous ones. Because the remaining roots are so fine, you have to repot it regularly to avoid matting.

Accustomed to rocky mountainsides, the foxtail pine is tolerant of wind and steep slopes. They are not often bothered by many pests or diseases but may battle with mountain pine beetles and white pine blister rust.  


Full to partial sun is best to keep these trees thriving. They often enjoy morning sun and partial or filtered afternoon sunshine. 


These trees naturally grow in areas with rocky, slightly acidic, low-nutrient soil. Providing well-draining soil similar to this natural habitat will help foxtail pine trees thrive. This can be a bit tricky in the garden, but these unique trees respond well to perlite amended soil. They do not handle clay soil very well. 


Foxtail pines flourish in areas with little water, making them drought-tolerant. To mimic these conditions, water deeply and infrequently, allowing the soil to dry in-between waterings. Depending on your specific climate conditions, this may be every other week or so. 

Temperature and Humidity

Naturally found at very high elevations, the foxtail pine is accustomed to hot days and cold nights. This makes the warm summer nights in lower elevations more challenging. To help with this, position this type of tree in a spot with afternoon shade, which allows for cooler temperatures as the evening arrives. Foxtail pine trees do best with average humidity levels.  


Fertilizing young trees with phosphorus-based fertilizer will encourage healthy root development. However, because these trees grow in areas with very low nutrients, fertilization is not necessary for healthy growth.  

Propagating Foxtail Pine

Propagation can be done by means of cuttings; for pine trees, its usually best to do since from mid-fall to mid-winter. Follow these steps:

  1. Using clean garden snips, take a cutting around 5 or 6 inches long. 
  2. Clean the top half of the cutting of any needles. 
  3. Dip the cut end into rooting hormone. 
  4. Gently bury the cut end into a tray of planting medium. Water enough to keep the medium moist but not overly soggy.
  5. Cover with plastic and ensure that the cutting receives bright, indirect light.
  6. Once the cutting begins to take root (which may take several months or more), you can transplant to an outdoor location. Be sure to harden the plant off before doing so.

How to Grow Foxtail Pine From Seed

Foxtail pine seeds can be started indoors or directly sown into the garden. To start them indoors, follow these steps: 

  1. Stratify the seeds by soaking them for 24 hours. Then keep them in the refrigerator in damp paper towels or soil for 30 to 60 days. 
  2. Plant the seeds 1 inch deep in moist soil. 
  3. Keep the soil moist and warm. Use a heating mat and grow lights to provide the needed heat and light. Keep the heating mat on constantly. Keep the grow lights on for around 14 hours daily. 
  4. Once seedlings appear, allow them to mature for 2 or 3 months before transferring them to the garden. 

To start seeds outdoors, follow these steps:

  1. Plant the seeds in the fall before the ground freezes. The seeds will naturally stratify over the winter. 
  2. Cover the seeds about 1 inch deep and moisten the soil.  
  3. The seeds will germinate when temperatures warm in the spring. 

Potting and Repotting Foxtail Pine

Though these trees grow to be very tall, they are slow-growing and can be kept in containers when young. When choosing a container, be sure it has good drainage. Fill the pot with well-draining soil and water deeply and infrequently. As the tree grows, you may need to move it to a larger container or plant it into the ground. To do this, gently tip the container onto its side and tap the outside to loosen the roots. Slide the tree out and transfer to a new pot, being sure to provide water and suitable light conditions.


These trees are very hardy and are accustomed to the cold temperatures of high elevations. No extra attention is required for these trees to successfully survive the winter.

Disclaimer: Curated and re-published here. We do not claim anything as we translated and re-published using google translator. All images and Tattoo Design ideas shared only for information purpose.

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