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Re: Longleafs in Delaware

Message from RonDEZone7a

Glenn/Jim/All:

Just a few more comments on Longleafs in Delaware...

I donated this one to my neighbors. It grew nicely for almost 10 years and then blew over in a March wind storm. My neighbors told me that the blown over tree barely grew any new roots, when they pulled out the base. It was past the "grass stage" when planted and so must have been root-pruned. It apparently never grew a new tap root (or a strong one) - and this, I understand, is a problem for transplanted Longleaf Pines. And it might be more of problem where I live, since we have heavy clay soil.



Anyway, my thoughts are (at least, up here in Zone 7 or, in heavy clay soil), Longleaf Pines should be planted at the "grass stage" so they can grow sturdy roots before they "shoot up". It makes me wonder if windthrow (trees blowing over) is a problem for other Longleafs planted around here and may explain why some "disappear" suddenly, after they grow 10 feet tall. And perhaps they are less prone to windthrow in South Jersey / Lower Delaware since that is on the coastal plain, with sandier soils (though I have heard that some windthrow of Longleafs happens there too).

I concur with Jim that Longleafs are few and far between in Delaware. I know of a few in the Wilmington and Newark areas in the north, and some others further south in Delaware.

p.s. Jim, there are some suspiciously long-needled pines growing on the southwest side of the Slaughter Beach exit on Route 1, which might be worth closer inspection!

Since my backyard is exposed from the north, I decided to go with Loblolly Pines, since they are hardier and have fewer windthrow problems. Mine were all from native Delmarva Peninsula seed sources and have done great in the 10 years since I planted them. Not as impressive as Longleafs but they still have much longer needles than many other pines, like the Pitch Pines of the NJ Pine Barrens. And note, mine have provided nice part-shade shelter for my Needle Palms.

(Here's how they looked 10 years ago in 2005


And there are lots of really tall (old) Loblollies in Northern Delaware, even here in the Wilminton suburbs, so clearly they handle clay soil better and don't routinely blow over. These are walking distance from my house. So while I like Longleafs, Loblollies are a bit easier - in my area anyway (and, they are a Delaware native).



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