Care Information

Wollemi Pine | About the Wollemi Pine | Fast Facts |  Care Information

Taking Care of a Wollemi Pine

The Wollemi Pine, the ultimate survivor, is proving to be hardy and versatile in cultivation. It is not only attractive and striking in appearance, it is easy to grow and low maintenance.

It will adapt to a diverse range of climatic zones, thriving in full sun to semi-shaded outdoor positions.

It is a stunning feature tree for large gardens and parklands. It can be maintained in a pot almost indefinitely, so is well suited to patios, verandahs and courtyards. It can also be used as indoor decoration in well lit areas as it is able to tolerate air-conditioning.

Taking care of the Wollemi Pine as:

 

Top Care TipsTop Care Tips

An indoor/outdoor pot plantAn indoor/outdoor pot plant

A garden or landscape treeA garden or landscape tree

Is the Wollemi Pine susceptible to common garden pests?Is the Wollemi Pine susceptible to common garden pests?

Trouble Shooting & Common FAQsTrouble Shooting & Common FAQs

Top Care Tips

The Wollemi Pine is not only attractive and striking in appearance, but also easy to grow and low maintenance. It is very versatile with a range of uses from a container plant in a semi-shaded position, a feature tree in a full sun position to an indoor pot plant in a well-lit position.

The important information to remember when caring for a Wollemi Pine is:

Watering
Water by saturating the plant as soon as the growing media becomes dry in the top 5cm of the pot - this may be once or twice a week. The Wollemi Pine does not tolerate over watering and will not survive if it held for excessive periods in a constantly moist compost. Ensure you do not to keep the plant sitting in a saucer of water. As a general rule of thumb, the lower the light level, the less water loss.

Light
If kept indoors, place the plant in a very well-lit position but out of direct sunlight. Take it outside to a sheltered position one week in every month between May and September

Fertiliser
Use a slow release, low phosphorus fertiliser and feed with a liquid fertiliser for optimum growth.

TopTop

The Wollemi Pine as an indoor/outdoor pot plant

The Wollemi Pine can be maintained in a pot and does not require frequent re-potting, making it an ideal container plant for patios and courtyards. It can also be used as indoor decoration in well-lit areas which are out of direct sunlight and is able to tolerate air conditioning.

Watering
The appropriate watering of both indoor and outdoor pot plants is essential for good health and survival. The Wollemi Pine does not tolerate over-watering and will not survive if left for excessive periods in a constantly moist potting mix. It is best to ensure that you allow the growing media to dry out before re-watering. The best way to know when the pot plant requires watering is to regularly check the moisture content of the compost by feeling the top 5cm of the growing media with your finger. This may be once or twice a week.

As a general rule of thumb, the lower the light level, the less water loss. If dry, completely saturate the growing media. This will take at least a couple of litres of water for the smaller pots and up to 15 litres for the larger pots. If it is an indoor plant, place it in a shady position outside before saturating the growing media and return the plant indoors after it has drained.

Do not leave the plant sitting in a saucer of water. Do not regularly mist the foliage. Be aware that if your plant is outdoors, leaving your plant exposed to long period of wet weather could cause waterlogging and thus poor health. Remember to only water when dry. Even in hot, dry conditions, do not water daily and only water when the growing media is dry.

Positioning and Conditioning
The Wollemi Pine is a versatile plant that can adapt to a wide range of light environments. It is suited to a well-lit indoor environment, or a semi-shade or full sun outdoor position.

Outdoor
For an outdoor living area such as a balcony or courtyard, choose a well-lit, sheltered location out of direct sunlight. Before placing the Wollemi Pine in the full sun, it is recommended to gradually condition the plant to its new environment. If placed immediately in the full sun, they may initially develop a slight yellowing of the foliage, as do other rainforest and Araucariaceae species. However, it will regain its regular deep green appearance within six months.

Indoor
As an indoor plant, the Wollemi Pine requires a well-lit position out of direct sunlight, preferably near a window or doorway. Indoor light levels can vary enormously and adjusting the distance of your plant to a well-lit area from just one or two metres can make a big difference to its health. We recommend a high light environment where light levels are above 500-1000 lux. Extensive trialling has indicated that the Wollemi Pine is tolerant of air conditioning, making it suitable for well-lit homes and offices. As with all indoor plants, especially trees, the Wollemi Pine occasionally needs to be placed outdoors in a sheltered, shaded area. It is recommended this be done for one week out of every month between May and September. Please note that the Wollemi Pines are less hardy indoors when flushing with new growth and it is particularly important to understand that the lower the light, the lower the watering requirements.

Shaping
The Wollemi Pine can be shaped using sterile secateurs at any time of the year to maintain its compact form. It can be pruned heavily with up to two thirds of the plant size removed. Pruning can be done on the apical growth (upright stems) and the branches. New buds (from one to multiple) will generally originate from just below the cut. To stimulate active growth after pruning, apply a slow release, low phosphorus fertilizer at the recommended rates.
It is best to prune in the winter months for large diameter stems and branches (greater than 5cm). Use sterile, sharp pruning equipment to match the size of the stem or branch being pruned

Growth Rate
Maintaining a Wollemi Pine in a pot will control its growth and pruning will promote a compact bushy form. If the plant is not fertilised or kept in medium light conditions, it will grow more slowly. However, keep the Wollemi Pine in a well-lit position to ensure that it remains healthy.

Fertiliser
A slow release, low phosphorus fertiliser in combination with a foliar fertiliser will promote optimum growth. Follow labelling instructions. Keeping the Wollemi Pine in a pot and fertilising slightly, will reduce its growth rate. It is recommended to fertilise with control release fertiliser at the beginning of autumn and onset of spring. At the end of winter/start of spring, application of foliar fertilisers will encourage development of new growth. Products such as Osmocote and Nutricote slow release granular fertilisers and liquid fertilisers are suitable.

Re-Potting
The Wollemi Pine's root growth is strong, but not so vigorous that plants will require frequent repotting, hence its suitability as a pot plant.
To re-pot

    1) Place the Wollemi Pine into a slightly larger pot than the one supplied.

    2) Fill the bottom of a clean pot with good quality Growing media to ensure that the root ball is at the same level as previously.

    3) Place the root ball in the pot and fill with growing media.

    4) Tap the pot to ensure the potting mix fills all the spaces and covers the top of the root ball.

    5) Immediately water the plant until saturated.
The Wollemi Pine prefers a well drained fertile site and slightly acid soil, with a pH of 5.5 to 6. A standard Ericaceous or Tree and Shrub compost will be perfectly adequate. Follow the instructions on the growing media label to determine whether there is a need to top dress with a slow release fertiliser.
TopTop

The Wollemi Pine as a garden or landscape tree

The Wollemi Pine will make a spectacular specimen tree and can also be planted as an avenue, grove or hedge. It is low maintenance and remarkably versatile for a range of uses from a container plant in a semi-shaded position to a feature tree in full sun locations.

Hardiness
The Wollemi Pine is a versatile and hardy plant. Its growth rate and foliage colour adapt to its environment. The Wollemi Pine in Australia has grown in a range of temperatures from -5°e to 45°(, Trials in the USA and Japan have indicated that it will survive temperatures as cold as -12°(, It is also frost tolerant and once established, relatively drought hardy. Hardiness trials are on going at Kew where in Feb 2006 the air temperature fell to minus 6.2°C and previously in November 2005 the ground temperature was recorded at minus 11.9°C. The trees have all survived well with a small amount of bronzing on the trees in containers.

Growth
As a young plant, up to 18 months of age, a Wollemi Pine can grow half a metre a year perhaps reaching a height of 20m in its lifetime. However, the Wollemi Pine will not grow as tall as the Wollemi Pines in the wild as they are in a deep canyon and are reaching for the sun. A mature plant will grow around a metre a year. If the plant is not fertilised or kept in medium light conditions, it will grow more slowly. Under optimum conditions in the growth seasons, the apical shoots can grow up to 50cm vertically in the space of a month with lateral buds developing in the following few weeks. The branches will then begin to unfurl on both the primary and secondary shoots. This very distinctive new apple-green foliage provides a striking contrast to the older blue-grey foliage.

Spread and Root System
Mature trees in the wild have a spread of approximately 3m in diameter with trunks up to 0.7m in diameter. The Wollemi Pine has a non-invasive root system with a root ball size comparable to the average spread of the tree at maturity i.e. 3m.

Conditioning
When planting the Wollemi Pine, ensure that it is conditioned before being moved between temperature and light extremes. The Wollemi Pines are grown under 50% shade and if moved into the full sun, some yellowing can occur on the leaves (as with other Araucariaceae species). The Wollemi Pine will return to its regular deep green appearance within six months. Similarly, if moving the Wollemi Pine to a cold environment, ensure that it is conditioned gradually so that the plant does not suffer undue stress.

The optimum time for conditioning a plant to its new environment is when the conditions are mild, rather than extreme heat, wind or cold.

Soil
The Wollemi Pine tolerates a wide range of soil types. In particular, it favours a well drained, slightly acid (pH 5.5 to 6) fertile site. The suitability of the site can be improved by cultivating the soil. This can be done by loosening the soil to twice the depth and diameter of the pot and removing any competing plants or weeds. Like many plants, the Wollemi Pine can be susceptible to a common root-rot fungus, Phytophthora. A local plant health authority can be contacted to test the soil for the presence of root-rot fungi.

Spacing
The spacing at which to plant the Wollemi Pines depends on the desired effect. For a single specimen tree or an avenue, it is recommended to leave a radius of approximately 2.5 metres around the tree. For a hedge or grove effect, the trees can be planted much closer, even one to two metres apart. Do not plant under the canopy or close to the root ball of other trees. Not only will the larger trees compete for light and water, the non-invasive root system of the Wollemi Pine will have difficulty establishing in this environment.

Planting
The optimum time of year to plant the Wollemi Pine out in the garden is late spring after the last frost, as new growth may be susceptible to damage.

Ensure that the potted plant is saturated before you plant. This is best done by submersing the root ball in water until all air bubbles cease to rise. Immediately after planting, water the soil around the plant deeply. Water the tree deeply every 5-7 days until the plant has established new foliage. Thereafter, water during drought periods.

If the Wollemi Pine is being planted into an area of extremely high rainfall or an area with potential to waterlog, it may be best to mound the area (i.e. build up an area of soil) into which the Wollemi Pine will be planted.

Watering
The appropriate watering of plants in the soil is essential for good health and survival.

The Wollemi Pine does not tolerate over-watering and will not survive if it is held for excessive periods in a constantly moist soil. It is best to ensure that you allow the soil to dry out before re-watering. The best way to know when the planted tree requires watering is to regularly check the moisture content of the soil by feeling the top 5cm with your finger. If completely dry, water the soil around the root system deeply. Continue to water the tree deeply until the plant has established new foliage (this may be once every 5 or 7 days), and then water during drought periods. Keep in mind that heavy mulching around the base of the tree (ensuring it is not touching the tree's stem) will retain water and thus should require less frequent watering.

Remember to only water when dry. Even in hot, dry conditions, do not water daily and only water when the soil is dry.

Pruning
The Wollemi Pine can be heavily pruned i.e. up to two thirds of the plant size removed. Pruning can be done on both the apical growth (upright stems) and the branches. New buds (from one to multiple) will generally originate from just below the cut. To stimulate active growth after pruning, apply controlled release granular fertiliser at recommended rates.

It is best to prune in the winter months for large diameter stems and branches (greater than 5cm). Use sterile, sharp pruning equipment to match the size of the stem or branch being pruned.

TopTop

Is the Wollemi Pine susceptible to common garden pests?

Mammal damage can be a problem with any young trees planted in open ground. We do not feel that the Wollemi Pine is any more susceptible than other garden plants to attention from mammals. In some instances, the whole garden will need to be protected by fencing to prevent damage to garden plants. If this is impractical or not cost effective we suggest that you protect your Wollemi Pine from un-wanted attention by enclosing your tree with chicken wire. This should deter mammals such as Rabbits, Hares, Badgers and Deer. For more information contact your local Wollemi Pine stockist.

Tortrix Moth Caterpillar

Tortrix Moth Caterpillar

Tortrix Moth Caterpillar seems to have a particular penchant for Wollemi Pine. Consider using a Tortrix Moth Trap; these use a pheromone to catch the male moth.

Moths fly during the day, in early summer and again in early autumn. In a heated greenhouse or conservatory they may be active all year round. The trap should be suspended above the plants which are at risk and checked frequently.

As soon as one moth is caught, spray the plants with Bio Sprayday Greenfly Killer Plus or Liquid Derris Plus Spray (Always follow the recommendations on the packaging) and again every 2-3 weeks while moths continue to be caught. The easiest method of control is to pick off affected leaves and burn them.

Troubleshooting & Common FAQs

What is the best watering regime for the Wollemi Pine?
The most likely issue that affects the health of the Wollemi Pine is an incorrect watering regime. Ensure not to over water- just saturate the plant when the top 5cm of the growing media is dry. This maybe at least a couple of litres for a small pot and up to 15 litres for a large pot. Do not leave the plant sitting in a saucer of water if it is in a pot.

Watering may need to be done once or twice a week and will depend on the light levels, generally, the lower the light, the less water loss. Light is also important, especially if the plant is indoors. Ensure that it is in a well lit position but not in direct sun and take it outside to a shaded and sheltered location for 1 week in every month between May and September.

Why have the branches on my tree begun to droop?
When the Wollemi Pine is stressed by over watering/under watering or grown in low light areas, it is susceptible to a fungal disease known as Fusicoccum. This can result in foliage branch wilt and dieback, and death if left untreated.

It is very important that at the first sign of branch wilt the light and watering condition are checked. It is very likely that the plant is in a position that is not sufficiently lit and the growing media is waterlogged. The plant should be moved to a position of higher light but protected from direct sunlight. The plant can be raised off the ground (e.g. with bricks), to allow airflow and free drainage from the bottom of the pot. Ensure that the pot is saturated only when the top 5cm of the growing media is dry. If the mix is very wet, ensure the plant is kept out of natural rainfall.

Why have the leaf tips of my Wollemi Pine gone brown?
There are three possible reasons for the tips of the leaves of the Wollemi Pine to go brown.



Always ensure slow release fertilizer is evenly placed around the tree and not in contact with the stem.

Could the Wollemi become invasive?
Ecologists studying the Wollemi Pine have claimed that the Wollemi Pine is highly unlikely to become a 'weed'. The biological attributes of weed species are inconsistent with conifers in the Araucariaceae family. There is a slight possibility that Wollemi Pine seeds could germinate as a result of seed fall in highly favourable conditions, though, any major infestation is unlikely.

Is the Wollemi Pine susceptible to common garden pests?
Like most ornamental plants, the Wollemi Pine is susceptible to common garden pests. These include caterpillars and sap sucking insects, such as aphids, scale and mealy bug. Symptoms of such pests may include pale, yellowing and/or wilted growing tips, honeydew and sooty mould and often, presence of ants. Treat by removing any pests by hand and spraying with the appropriate chemicals, Do not use leaf shines or white oils as foliage burn can result.

Is the Wollemi Pine susceptible to disease?
The Wollemi Pine has been found to be relatively resistant to most diseases. However, a fungal pathogen Phytophthora cinnamonmi is one disease that affects many plants, including the Wollemi Pine. A few Wollemi Pines in the wild were infected with Phytophthora cinnamonmi as a result of it being carried in on the footwear of unauthorized visitors. These trees have been treated and there is no longer any immediate risk of the disease spreading. There has been no evidence of Phytophora cinnamonmi in commercial production.

Another fungal pathogen that can be associated with stem, branch and tree dieback or decline in Wollemi Pine is Fusicoccum species. At advanced stages of the disease, the fungus is visible as brown patches with tiny black raised spots (like a pin-head) on the leaves. This fungus is more active during the warmer, wetter months, and is generally only seen on plants under stress, such as insufficient light, drought, over-watering or poor drainage.

In general, if fungal pathogens are detected, it is suggested that a mixture of broad spectrum fungicides are used including Dithane 945.
TopTop

Wollemi Pine | About the Wollemi Pine | Fast Facts |  Care Information