Types of pine trees in Colorado are different trees that have long adapted to thrive in its dry weather. These majestic conifers will be a great addition to your native garden landscape as they grow healthily at high altitudes.

7 Types of Pine Trees in Colorado

Continue reading this article as we have listed impressive pines to grow in your Colorado garden or backyard.

Pines That Thrive in Colorado

1. Lodgepole Pine

Characteristics of Lodgepole Pine

Distinguishing characteristics
  • This is the most common pine in Colorado, representing 60 percent of the state’s tree cover
  • It’s a highly adaptable pine and will thrive in Colorado’s dry weather
  • This tree can live for up to 200 years in optimal conditions, growing yellow flowers in the summer
Growth and care
  • The lodgepole pine is easy to care for
  • It adapts to different soil types but thrives in well-draining, moist, and slightly acidic soil
  • Leave room to allow this tree to grow, and plant it somewhere with full sun to partial shade access
Landscape ideas
  • Grow a group of these pines to create a windbreak
  • If you have a small piece of land available for planting, you can grow one pine as a specimen tree
Companion plants
  • You can pair it with Douglas fir
  • Grow Persian violet as a colorful ground cover under this tall pine tree

This pine is one of the easiest to grow, and the variety growing in the Rocky Mountains is said to be born from fire. This means the cones must be exposed to fire to release the seeds. It’s best to plant this tree in September to allow the roots to establish before winter.

Make sure that when you are growing this tree or multiple ones of the same kind, you will leave some space between them. This is a matter that is going to keep the tree growing in its utmost potential.

You can pair the Pinus contorta tree with other dry-weather loving conifer species like the Colorado blue spruce, Picea pungens, or Pseudotsuga menziesii, Rocky Mountain juniper or Juniperus scopulorum, Engelmann spruce or Picea engelmannii. These are great companions that the tree will thrive as it is growing with them.

2. Bristlecone Pine

Bristlecone Pine Tree Care Guide

Distinguishing characteristics
  • Sheds a lot of needles
  • This tree grows slowly, usually reaching a height between 15 and 50 feet
  • The ones grown in urban landscapes are typically shorter than the ones you can see in the wild
Growth and care
  • This tree is highly tolerant of harsh weather and drought
  • It thrives in rocky and less fertile soil but needs full sun to grow
Landscape ideas
  • Many gardeners grow this tree as a shrub
  • Due to the tree’s unusual shape, it can be an excellent ornamental tree on your land
Companion plants
  • Spotted nettle and moneywort will grow under this tree because they’re shade-loving
  • Pair it with drought-tolerant varieties like the golden currant and creeping Oregon grape holly

This tree grows in the driest mountain areas in Colorado. Some members of the Pinus longaeva family have been documented to be over 5000 years old, making this one of the oldest trees in the world. Unless you have a large piece of land, you might want to reconsider growing this pine tree, as the needles shed regularly and must be cleared from gutters.

The Pinus aristata or Rocky Mountains bristlecone pine, which you’ll mostly find in Colorado, can live up to 1000 years, because it is the type of tree that will establish well in the climate of the region.

As a result of the latter, it’s considered one of the most popular Colorado white pine trees. On another note, this is the type of tree that is resilient in extremities of different temperatures, and it will grow in full sun, and soil that is not thoroughly fertile.

3. Western White Pine

Western White Pine Tree

Distinguishing characteristics
  • The pyramid-like crown of this pine tree becomes irregular with age
  • It has green-blue tree needles that come in bundles of five
  • The silver-gray bark becomes brown-gray with rough rectangular plates as the tree ages
Growth and care
  • This tree thrives in well-draining soil
  • It needs full sun exposure to stay healthy
Landscape ideas
  • With other deciduous trees in Colorado, this tree can create an excellent windbreak
  • Most homeowners will grow this unusual tree as a specimen or ornamental tree
Companion plants
  • Blueberries and dwarf bush honeysuckle are good ornamental plants to grow under this Colorado pine
  • Wild ginger, ferns, and hostas tolerate the shade and can thrive next to this pine
  • You can pair it with the Austrian pine, pitch pine, or Jack pine on a large land for an attractive collection of evergreen trees

The Pinus monticola is related to its eastern relative but can be as tall as 150 feet, like the longleaf pine. Due to its size, it’s pretty uncommon to grow in urban landscapes, along with the foxtail pine, unless you have a big piece of land to accommodate its massive size or you know how to trim a western pine tree.

When the requirements of this tree are met, it will be able to live for 300 to 400 years. In order to see such growth, you must make sure that it is placed in zones three to eight, and located in full sun. As for the soil, it should have a well-draining characteristic, and rich in calcium.

4. Ponderosa Pine

Ponderosa Pine Landscape ideas

Distinguishing characteristics
  • The Pinus ponderosa, or western yellow pine, maintains its green color in winter
  • Wild trees are usually taller than the ones you can grow in your garden
Growth and care
  • Make sure that you study the area before picking a location for your ponderosa pine
  • Reaching a height of 60 feet in urban landscapes, this tree can affect wires and cables
  • This tree thrives in slightly acidic soil with good drainage and requires full sun to grow
Landscape ideas
  • Homeowners usually grow this pine with the subalpine fir or Abies lasiocarpa and white fir to create a windbreak
  • It’s a good choice for cottage gardens, where it’s grown as a specimen tree
Companion plants
  • The Rocky Mountain fescue and yellow corydalis can thrive under this pine, and the needles make a great mulch
  • Add a pop of color under your pine by growing beautiful columbine
  • These flowers are rabbit and deer-resistant

Ponderosa pine Colorado trees have conical crowns and needles that come in bundles of three. The bank excretes the distinguished pine scent when crushed. However, it grows so tall that it may disrupt the surrounding wires, and in some cases, tree removal will be the only solution.

Luckily, several cultivars are on the market, so you can choose the right one for your landscape if you’re planning to grow one of the best pine trees for Colorado gardens. In other words, you should also know that when you plant it, you should know that it is rabbit and deer resistant, and it will provide mulch for your garden as the needles drop.

5. Limber Pine

Limber Pine Tree Uses

Distinguishing characteristics
  • The Pinus flexilis adapts to various growing conditions, making it an excellent tree to grow in Colorado if other trees struggle to grow
  • The fluffy foliage can make this tree look like a cedar from a distance
Growth and care
  • The pine is easy to grow, and no pruning is required
  • It easily adapts to harsh growing conditions but thrives in moist, well-draining soil
  • It requires full sun to partial shade to grow
Landscape ideas
  • Limber pine Colorado trees are great for meadows and prairie gardens
  • Paired with Japanese white pine, this tree will be an excellent choice for Asian and Zen gardens
  • The conical shape of the pine makes it an exceptional lawn specimen
Companion plants
  • Hydrangea shrubs are great companions for this pine
  • Acer is a good companion plant for this tree

This pine is a slow-grower, but in the right conditions, it will be an excellent addition to your garden. This is one of the most popular Colorado evergreen trees and will maintain its green foliage well into winter and grow brown-green flowers.

It’s deer-resistant, so you can plant it to protect nearby plants from animal attacks. This can be a great addition to your landscape because it has a great number of companion plants that you may pair it with if you don’t wish to add a number of the same type of tree.

On the same notion, make sure that you would place it in well-draining soil, where the water will not be standing in the roots, and locate it in a place with partial shades to full sun.

6. Pinon Pine

Detailed Guide for Pinon Pine

Distinguishing characteristics
  • The pinyon pine is native to Colorado and produces edible fruits
  • These fruits are a staple for culinary use as it has edible seeds that are rich in fats
  • The single-leaf variety is the only one with one needle per bundle, and these trees are usually used as Christmas trees
Growth and care
  • These pine trees are challenging to grow and require particular conditions to thrive
  • They’re pretty slow to mature, so they’re not popular in landscaping designs
  • This pine is tolerant of dry soil and harsh conditions, but needs full sun to thrive
Landscape ideas
  • Due to the compact size of this pine, it can be an excellent specimen tree for small gardens
  • You can group several trees to create a dense screen in your garden
Companion plants
  • Full-sun loving flowers will grow beautifully paired with this pine
  • Homeowners grow this tree with the Oregon white oak and California black oak

This tree is highly valued in the Native American culture, and the seeds and nuts are still used in several cooking recipes. You may also see different wild animals come by as this tree is a great food source for native birds like pinyon jays and animals like chipmunks.

The tree identification guide differentiates the Pinus monophylla and Pinus edulis varieties by the number of needles, as the monophylla grows one needle. In contrast, the edulis variety grows two or three needles. However, the number of this tree has dramatically declined in the wild.

This type of tree will grow to its utmost potential when the requirements are met, such as having a place in full sun and well-draining soil that does not require excess fertilization. On another note, you can also place different companion plants, that have the same requirements, especially ones that would require growing under full sun.

7. Red Pine

Growing Red Pine Tree

Distinguishing characteristics
  • These pine trees have yellow-green needles like the spruce pine, and the tree identification guide states that they’re pretty brittle compared to other pines
  • This pine tree tolerates exceptionally harsh conditions, including barren soil
Growth and care
  • It’s best to grow this tree in a protected spot because it’s not tolerant of urban pollution
  • The black pine or Japanese pine will be a better option if you live in a coastal area
  • The needles achieve their best color in full sun, but these pine trees can survive in partial shade
Landscape ideas
  • This pine tree can be grown as an indoor pot plant
  • You must repot your tree every two to three years to keep it healthy.
  • Red pine trees are excellent choices for prairie garden landscapes
Companion plants
  • Sweet woodruff will be an excellent shade-loving ground cover under this pine tree
  • Bearberry plants, gardenias, and mountain pine or mugo pine are great shrubs to grow next to this pine

Red pine trees or Pinus resinosa have a conical growth habit, rounded crowns, and straight trunks. The needles break cleanly when bent, and the cones open two years after pollination.

This tree can reach a height between 50 and 80 feet and is usually found on slopes and hills, so it will be a good choice if you struggle to grow other plants. As long as you do not plant it in urbanized areas, where it will be growing in polluted air, the tree will thrive.


Pine trees can adapt to the harsh Colorado weather, and some can live for thousands of years. Here’s what we covered in this article:

  • Some trees, like lodgepole pines, can survive in several locations so that they will work for your garden regardless of the soil type. These are among the most common trees in Colorado.
  • If you have a small garden, you might want to consider a compact pine like the Pinyon type.
  • White pines are less common in urban landscapes because they grow to massive sizes.
  • Some pines, like the bristlecone type, will grow tall in the wild but won’t be that tall in your garden, so it’s a good choice for urban landscaping.

Pines are long-lived, and choosing one for your garden involves a lot of commitment. So, which one will you grow for your Colorado garden? Check out the types of Pine trees you can plant in your garden if you live in Oregon.

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