Canary Island Pine/Pinus Canariensis
The Canary Island Pine is an excellent and stately evergreen plant for spacious and cooler parts of the home. As the ultimate height of this frost-tender tree is around 30m (100ft) in its native Canary Islands, it will eventually outgrow all but the roomiest of hallways and conservatories. As a background plant for added form and texture, it is ideal. The Canary Island Pine has drooping branchlets and spreading branches, bearing long, graceful three-needled leaves which are tinged with a rich, glaucous blue on young plants; on mature plants, the foliage turns bright green. P. c. ‘Silver Crest’ appears to be more compact in growth and tends towards a greener hue. This is not a plant for warm and centrally-heated homes, as needle drop will result: provide the Canary Island Pine with good light and space in which to grow, turn it regularly to maintain balanced growth, and it makes an easy container plant when young. In five years, it can reach around 5m (16ft) in height, so should be regarded as a short-term plant for most homes.
If kept on the dry side, this Pine will withstand Winter temperatures of 6-10°C (42-50°F): an optimum temperature is 10°C (50°F), but up to 18°C (65°F) will be tolerated, as long as adequate ventilation is provided.
Once all danger of frost has passed, this Pine can be placed outdoors in shade, away from any cold winds, which may scorch the foliage: indoors in Summer, shade Pinus Canariensis ‘Silver Crest’ from direct sunlight – the bright, but indirect, light of a North-facing window is ideal. Leggy growth will result from insufficient light. Always allow the surface of theto dry out before watering thoroughly: avoid over-watering in Winter, as leaf drop may result. When temperatures are low, reduce the amount of water given to compensate, while still keeping the roots moist.
The dry air associated with centrally-heated homes will kill this Pine very quickly: aim to provide cooler temperatures. If this is not possible, stand the plant on a tray of water-charged moisture-retentive pellets, ensuring that the roots of the plant are not in direct contact with the water. This will raise the level of humidity in the plant’s immediate vicinity.
Established plants should be fed every month during the growing season, using a proprietary houseplant feed at half strength. Over-feeding will result in a plant of monstrous proportions.
Pot culture will effectively restrict the plant’s ultimate size, and repotting should take place every three or four years. Remove any old compost and try to repot into the same size of pot if possible. This plant will rapidly outgrow most homes and should be regarded as a short-term houseplant. Use either a peat- or loam-based compost: the latter will add extra stability if the plant appears slightly top-heavy.
Use this attractive plant to give height to a foliage plant display: it is an excellent plant to use in a large. Unheated conservatory and will associate well with many other plants, including the Norfolk Island Pine and Mimosa.
Leaf drop will occur if temperatures are high, the air is dry, or the compost is allowed to dry out.
Mealy Bugs may congregate in the junctures of stem and trunk: eradicate using a cotton bud and methylated spirit. Bad infestations may be controllable by using an insecticide-impregnated plant spike.