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Can’t Hold a Candle to Pines

Can’t Hold a Candle to Pines

Mon, April 6, 2020 by Lucy Contreras, Assistant Manager of Plant Collections | in Botanical Gardens

As so many of my blogs begin, my inspiration for this blog began with a stroll through the gardens. I swear, I actually do work – this just happens to be part of it! Anyway, defense of my garden strolls aside, today’s walk brought my attention to our pines (Pinus spp.).

Pines are a large genus of conifers and are present in most of the United States. Many people think of conifers as only being pines, but as we have discussed in past blogs, there are plenty of other genera included in this category. To put it simply, all pines are conifers, but not all conifers are pines.

As I neared the formal gardens and passed our adorable dwarf conifer collection, I realized there was new growth on the pines. After I was done cheering them on and telling them how good they looked (I’m a motivator, what can I say?) and saying what beautiful candles the pines had, I realized something – the pines had candles! So, what are candles?

First, put the matches down! Candles are what we call new growth on pines, as you can see above. They do in fact even look a bit like a candle if you think about it. You can see candles in the spring, as the new growth is being pushed out. Just like other plants in the spring, pines are ready to start actively growing again. However, for those wishing to keep their pines shorter, this is the time of year for candling, or breaking off the candles to help restrict and limit the height.

Even though we have a dwarf conifer collection, I am all about letting those candles grow! …at least for now! Pinus thunbergii ‘Kotobuki’ is a dwarf Japanese black pine that is in our collection. It has been putting on an excellent candle show, and I can’t wait to see it fill out more.

Our spruce pine (Pinus glabra), although not a dwarf, is not far from our dwarf collection. This tree can grow quite large, but has only been in the ground for the last year and a half. I’m eager to see this little guy get some substantial growth!

You know what they say: spring has certainly sprung when the candles are out! Well, maybe they don’t say that, but the great “they” should probably start. What a great way to commence the warm season!


Open Daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
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1931 Brookgreen Drive

Murrells Inlet, SC 29576

Off US Highway 17 Bypass, between Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island