Did you know that some pine trees live for 5000 years? Impressive, isn’t it? It does bring us to another question: do pine trees ever stop growing? A tree that can live for up to five thousand years should be able to keep growing forever, but that’s not how it goes!
Do Pine Trees Ever Stop Growing?
Yes and no. Pine trees eventually stop growing in height. However, they still grow older and thicker. For example, if a pine tree reaches its maximum size after 200 years of living, it might still live for another century. But it’ll only be alive, not growing in height. That’s why a 200-year old tree will likely be at the same height as a 1000-year old one.
Will Pine Trees Stop Developing After Reaching Full Maturity?
Not exactly. The tree’s trunk will keep getting wider as a result of the new rings developing every year. There’s just the fact that trees’ growth gets slower with age.
While a tree may grow a foot long in one year, a century later, it’ll grow only half of it. That’s only a result of aging. Thinking of it, the same happens with humans. 60-year olds don’t develop in the same way 20-year olds do.
How to Stop a Pine Tree From Growing Taller?
To stop a pine tree from growing taller, trimming is the way to go. However, most people do it the wrong way, cutting right through the branches. By doing that, the buds at the branch’s end drop, which causes the branches to die.
That’s not how to trim a tree, or else it’ll die too early for its age. Instead, trimming should go through the candles and the crown. That way, the branches keep growing without dying.
Anyone who grows trees would know that each species has a specific time around the year to trim. For pine trees, early spring and late winter are the suitable seasons for cutting.
Here’s an overview of the parts of the pine tree to prune correctly.
The crown is the tree’s peak. Many people call it the leader, and others refer to it as the Christmas topper place! Some pine trees have two crowns. To trim the tree correctly and stop its growth, the two must be cut.
The candles refer to the growing sprouts that come out of the main branches. They resemble tiny branches or twigs, and some people say they look like candles; hence, the naming.
Candles have a light green color, and they’re incredibly soft to the touch. No tool would cut them in the right way; it’d just cut through the branch, compromising the whole process.
That’s why it’s better to use hands to cut them. It’s much more comfortable and easier as well.
The whorls refer to a group of branches that grow around the tree’s trunk. They grow in a circular pattern, and a new one grows each year. Each one represents a year of growth, which is why cutting them would stop the tree from growing.
There’s something to take care of, though. The tiny branches growing out of whorls shouldn’t be cut. Whorls consist mainly of buds and needles. The buds are considered the active part, while the needles are the inactive part.
When cutting the whorls, the inactive part should be left alone. Cutting it would cause the whorls to stop growing altogether. So, they should only be cut if that’s the aim.
How Fast Does the Average Pine Tree Grow?
A pine tree’s average growth rate is 1–2 ft per year. However, it varies from one species to another. They’re classified into slow, medium, and fast-growing.
Slow ones can only grow 1 ft per year, while medium ones will have a 1–2 ft rate annually. As for the fast ones, some of them can reach 3 ft per year.
Related: Do Pine Trees Lose Their Leaves?
How Long Does a Pine Tree Take to Grow to Full Maturity?
Again, it depends on the species. Some dwarf pines reach maturity at 4-ft tall. Meaning, they’ll take 2–3 years to reach full maturity. Meanwhile, slash pines get fully mature at 100 ft. It’ll typically take longer for them to reach maximum height, taking around 50 years on average.
Will a Pine Tree Die If You Cut the Top Off?
No, the pine tree wouldn’t die. It’d merely stop growing, which is mostly the purpose of cutting the top. The tree may die upon the cutting of branches or the main trunk. However, the top crown shouldn’t pose a problem.
However, topping a pine ruins the shape and aesthetics of the tree. It can also leave the tree vulnerable to infections due to the large wound at the top of the tree. I would always advise against topping a pine tree for these reasons.