The Complete Guide for Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine (Pinus Contorta Var. Latifolia ‘Chief Joseph’) Care


The Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine, otherwise known as the Pinus Contorta Var. Latifolia ‘Chief Joseph’ or Rocky Mountain Lodgepole Pine, Lodgepole Pine, Tall Lodgepole Pine, Black Pine, is a somewhat well known tree plant native to the Pacific Northwest, and the Rocky Mountains of the United States.

Best known for its low maintenance and slow growth, this tree will likely liven up your house (or garden) with its chartreuse colored leaves. But, only if you learn how to take proper care of it for it to thrive.

Fortunately, taking care of your Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine is not too difficult – as long as you follow our guidelines in this Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine Care Guide. Now let’s get started.

The fundamental caring guidelines for every Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine can be summed up into the following:

  • Water: The Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine grows best with watering each week. Increase the frequency of watering when it gets hot.
  • Light: Keep your Pinus Contorta Var. Latifolia ‘Chief Joseph’ in an environment where it can receive full sun on a daily basis. 
  • Soil: Make sure to keep the Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine in soil with well-draining properties, so ideally, one that is made of sand and loam.

And that’s practically it! If you keep these three factors in check, your Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine will likely have all it needs for it to survive and even thrive.

Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine plants

Scientific / Botanical Aspects

In botanical terms, the Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine belongs to the Pinaceae family, the genus Pinus and the species Contorta, hence its scientific (or botanical) name Pinus Contorta Var. Latifolia ‘Chief Joseph’.

As with other Pinus’s, the Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine is an evergreen plant, which means it will be present year round in your garden.

Growing Region

The Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine is a plant native to the Western USA and Canada. This is why the Pinus Contorta Var. Latifolia ‘Chief Joseph’ is used to growing in specific regions such as the states in Pacific Northwest, and the Rocky Mountains of the United States.

As a rule of thumb, we recommend to always keep in mind your plants’ native region and environment, since these are the conditions that your Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine is most accustomed to, thus where it can most favorably.

With this in mind, the Pinus Contorta Var. Latifolia ‘Chief Joseph’ will be most used to the heat zones in the 6 – 8 region, as the plant hardiness level falls between 3a, 3b, 4b, 4a, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7b, 7a and the ideal climate zone is between 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, A3.

Growth and Size

Growth

In terms of size and growth, the Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine is a relatively slow grower, which makes things easy for any plant enthusiast.

Size

But, how big does the Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine actually get? What should you expect in terms of size? Let’s dive right in…

The Pinus Contorta Var. Latifolia ‘Chief Joseph’ can grow up to 40′ – 50′ (12m – 15m) in 40′ – 50′ (12m – 15m) and 40′ – 50′ (12m – 15m) in 40′ – 50′ (12m – 15m). 

Also, expect it to grow in a wonderful columnar shape, which is something worthwhile to remember when making your garden landscape plans.

Water

In terms of watering, the Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine is a fairly simple plant to take care of.

This is mostly because it has a straightforward watering schedule and somewhat regular watering needs.

Specifically, most experts agree that the Pinus Contorta Var. Latifolia ‘Chief Joseph’ grows best with watering each week. Increase the frequency of watering when it gets hot.

Which is why it is considered a plant with relatively low needs in terms of water. 

Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine fruit

Watering

As a rule of thumb, you should remember to keep your Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine in soil with well-draining characteristics, as these will guarantee the right conditions for your plant to grow and thrive. 

When you consider this, this is why you should aim to choose soil that has good drainage, and occasionally dry properties to keep the right moisture levels at all times. 

But, if you want a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to watering your Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine then you should consider the famous ‘finger’ test. To perform this test, you just need to put your finger in your plant’s soil and determine if it’s moist or not. If it is, then don’t water; if it isn’t, then please do. In any case, this test will allow you to know if your Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine needs or does not need water, every time.

Soil Mix

As mentioned earlier, the Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine prefers to have soil with good drainage, and occasionally dry properties at all times, reason why you need to make the soil mix out of sand and loam.

This is why most experts agree that the Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine requires soil with loam (silt), which will give you the right conditions it needs.

In addition to this, expert gardeners recommend having preferably neutral to acid soil.

Light and Exposure

In terms of light & exposure, the Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine requires full sun in order for it to thrive under the right conditions. 

Most experts agree that this tree will do well as long as you keep it in full sun, and it will be able to grow properly.

Specifically, we recommend that you place your Pinus Contorta Var. Latifolia ‘Chief Joseph’ in full and direct sun (more than 6 hours of direct sunlight per day).

Season

Being an evergreen plant, the Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine will be present year round in your garden.

But, you can expect it to have its ‘prime-time’ during the spring (early, mid, late), the summer (early, mid, late), the fall, and during the winter.

Foliage

The leaves from the Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine have a beautiful chartreuse color during most of the year.

In particular, they have a needles arrangement in its leaves.

You can expect the leaves from your Pinus Contorta Var. Latifolia ‘Chief Joseph’ to be around (1-3 inches) in size.

Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine up close

Garden

How should you then organize your garden to include your new Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine? Here are some recommendations by expert gardeners.

Most Pinus Contorta Var. Latifolia ‘Chief Joseph’ owners agree that this tree will look great in most contemporary and rustic gardens of all types. 

Other owners consider that they complement well most gardens of prairie and meadow styles. 

In particular, the Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine’s best use for landscaping within your garden is as rock garden, erosion control, wildlife garden, mass planting, specimen, or a woodland garden.

Conclusion

So that’s it! These are the main plant care requirements that you need to keep in mind in order to have a healthy Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine in your garden or home.

Sebastian Moncada

I’m also a plant enthusiast and researcher. I’ve been privileged to have lived my whole life around the wilderness of Colombia and I’m happy to share everything I learn along the way. “Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience” – Emerson.

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