Growing Wollemi Pines
Be aware that Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis, family Araucariaceae) is a rare emergent rainforest tree, and although it has survived in the wild over many millennia, some growing situations are better than others.
In the wild, Wollemi pines begin growing in spring and rise to about 40 metres.They are similar in stature to Norfolk Island, Cook or Hoop pines (Arauacaria species). At the Australian Botanic Gardens Mount Annan we have successfully grown Wollemi pines in pots for more than twenty years.
In general, Wollemi pines need some protection from full sunlight when they are young (less than ten years of age) and they do best where the roots have a cool root run. Young plants in cultivation can be protected from strong light provided by shade cloth or the shelter of other trees.
This species favours acid soil;in their habitat the pH is as low as 4, and in potted cultivation they favour a pH of less than 6.
Wollemi pines are the least heat tolerant of the Australian Araucariaceae species. We recommend growing them in areas where the maximum temperature of 37 degrees celsius and a minimum of -10 degrees celsius. A cool area with filtered light, such as a gully, is ideal.
Wollemi pines can be successfully transplanted especially when young, although werecommend avoiding, if possible.
Although their habitat soil is naturally low in nutrients, the Wollemi pines respond well to fertiliser and aren’t known to be sensitive to phosphorus. We suggest using a well balanced fertiliser suited for general tree growth in the ground or pots.
Wollemi pines appreciate regular watering especially in pots. Over watering may lead to problems such as fungal disease.
Visit a Wollemi pine
A great example of a cultivated Wollemi pine can be found behind the Visitor Centre at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan. Nearly 20 years old, this tree has been well-watered and protected from sun on the southern side of the building. It is well over ten metres tall and is covered with both male and female cones. Like plants in the wild, the tree is beginning to produce multiple branches from the base.
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Our cool tips for growing Wollemi pines:
- We find Wollemi pine to be an excellent pot plant - use the best quality potting mix suitable for pot plants
- They do grow in the ground in many circumstances, but may be susceptible to common diseases if they are stressed
- Give the plants a cool root run
- Don’t plant into hot, full sun situations
- Protect young plants from wind
- Filtered or dappled light is good
- Do water the plants especially when young - under or over-watering will predispose the plants to disease
- Keep competition from other plants to a minimum
- Fertilise as for other trees, they are not phosphorus sensitive, but don’t overdo it
- Always follow manufacturers' instructions for fertiliser or pest control
- Don’t buy wilted plants
- Give your Wollemi pine a name!