Pines that Grow in San Diego area?

I’m still quite the beginner and am interested in getting my first pine but want it to be a CA native. Will ponderosa pines grow here? Any other options? Thanks in advance.

Ponderosa Pines need winter dormancy and probably wouldn’t do well in San Diego.

I’d recommend going to a local nursery (One that specializes in local native plants if possible) to get a sense of what kind of pines will do will in your region.

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…alternatively go out for walk/hike and see if any pines grow in your area. Find out what they are if so, lear about their needs and go ahead to purchase one :slight_smile:

Unfortunately, torrey pines probably won’t work as bonsai (12" needles and all that).

Monterey pine (pinus radiata) should work and apparently ponderosa pines are also grown in the San Diego area but I have no idea how they’d fare potted in the long run.

Thanks for the suggestions. One of the only downsides to living in SD is that most of the flora in the area is from Australia. In my research in past couple of days I have discovered the Foothill pine aside from the Torrey pine in this area. I’ll check out the Monterey as well.

Check out the California Native Plant Society website for info. They list a lot of pines that would grow in San Diego. Pseudotsuga Macrocarpa is one. Pinus Muricata is another. The site lists all kinds of info on the plants and what zones work best for them and even lists nurseries where that sell them! I live in LA and I have been having some good luck growing Ponderosa’s and Jeffrey pines. I know the Jeffries will grow, because they are all over on the streets in my neighborhood. The needles are a little long, but I’ve been able to get them to shorten. I have also had great luck with Tecate cypress.

Thanks Carin-Anne! I picked up some plants this weekend at the CNPS sale here. That’s great to hear about the Jeffrey pines! There are ponderosa’s in the mountains near here but I assumed the elevations where they grow allow for the dormancy others indicate they need. I just learned about Tecate Cypress and have found them very near me on the iNaturalist app.

I bought the Ponderosas before I learned about their need for dormancy, from Theodore Payne Foundation- a local native plant nursery. They have been doing well so far these past 3 years in my yard. If I see them start to decline, I will give them away, or plant them on a mountain. LOL!

This is a great question that I’d love to hear Ryan chime in on. Like others said the lack of a dormant period is the issue and unfortunately we are a bit limited with pine options in So Cal. You could always house the tree with a pro in an area that get’s a dormant period, graft Black Pine or something that does well, then bring it home after the grafting process.

CA Natives that should grow well in San Diego:
-Monterey Pine
-Grey Pine
-Bishop Pine
-Coulter Pine

CA Natives-Likely will not do well:

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@Jeremiah_Lee side question, have you collected any Grey Pine bonsai or know of a resource? I’ve been looking and haven’t found any outside of tubestock at nurseries.


I have never collected Grey Pine and there are many in San Luis Obispo County where I live. The key is finding them in a situation where they are naturally dwarfed for some reason. Like growing on granite where their roots are confined to a small pocket or maybe continuously grazed on by deer. Unfortunately, most of the Grey Pines I see are beautiful, but also massive. I’d actually like to grow a few from seed as a long term project. Needles are long, but I don’t know anyone that’s worked with them to work on reducing.

Yeah I grew up in the California foothills surrounded by grey pines. Being a lower elevation tree, it seems like the rock pockets will be much more rare.

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I do have an Yamadori of Pinyon Pine here in San Diego. It was originally from CO and has been 3 years since I got it. Haven’t noticed any issue. It is just a kind of specie that grows really slow.

P.S.: It would be really interesting if Ryan did a stream with Pinyon Pine here! Assuming that it is a cultivar that seems to be more and more common in the bonsai bonsai scene here in America. At least for the West Coast.

Just treat it as a short needle single flush pine. :metal:t2: :evergreen_tree:

Just for curiosity this is my Pinyon Pine here in San Diego, as I mentioned has been 3-4 years since I got it. There is a long way to go still on training/development, but already exciting


Theodore Payne nursery has Grey Pines in one gallon pots. They might even sell seeds.

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Hey I know this is an old thread- keep in mind east San Diego county has elevation, where it snows. Ponchos will and do grow up there, but in the city of SD where it rarely gets under 42 deg F, the chill hours just aren’t there.

I just had some Torrey pine seeds germinate: 90 days in a cold moist strat and they germinated within 3 days. Maybe as a rly big bonsai ;).