Mugo Pine Tree Care Guide For Beginners

Close up of dwarf mountain pine Mughus, Mugo Pine Tree Care Guide for BeginnersIf you love the beauty and fragrance of pine trees but don't want to commit to their towering heights, the Mugo pine tree is perfect for you. This carefree evergreen is short and shrubby in appearance. It has a slightly spreading and rounded dense habit of growth. 

The dark green needles measure between 1 and 2 inches and turn slightly yellow in the winter. There are a handful of varieties, and their sizes range from 1.5 feet to 20 feet tall and 3 feet to 25 feet wide. As you can tell, there are quite a few options for your landscape. The dwarf varieties are particularly popular.

The Mugo pine tree is an incredible evergreen that transforms the landscape where it's planted. Whether it's a single tree or a cluster of trees, it will upgrade the aesthetic. If the Mugo pine is something you're interested in planting, keep reading! We’ll talk more about this plant’s background, then we’ll give you some tips for growing it successfully as well as some photo inspiration.

Botanical Background

The name "Mugo pine" is derived from the mid-18th century era. The Italian term "mugo" means "small mountain pine," which is very fitting. The Mugo pine's origins are in central Europe and the Balkan Peninsula. It was introduced from Europe during the late 1700s. Its botanical name is Pinus mugo and it belongs to the family Pinaceae. The family Pinaceae is home to 220 species of conifer trees.

Its beautiful growth and easy growing characteristics have made it a very popular species. The Mugo pine can be grown as low hedges, ground covers, erosion control, barriers and privacy screens, or as ornamental pieces. Its versatility certainly adds to its popularity. 

How To Grow Mugo Pines

Now that we’ve talked a little bit about this tree's background, let’s go over some tips that will help you grow them successfully!

Where To Grow Them

You can grow Mugo pines both indoors and outdoors; it only depends on the variety and the aesthetic you want. Mugo pines can be grown directly in the landscape or in containers. 

Mugo pines can even be grown as bonsai trees. Most bonsai trees are grown indoors under a careful, watchful eye.  


The size of the Mugo pine varies on its exact variety: a dwarf or full size. Based on the variety, the Mugo pine may grow 1.5 feet to 20 feet tall and 3 feet to 25 feet wide. So, as you think about your landscape, consider the variety that would look best in it. 

These trees, at maturity, typically spread wider than they are tall. They grow very densely, too. Its growth rate is very slow, possibly growing up to 12 inches each year.

To keep them growing in a compact way, prune them every winter season. Mugo pines could easily outgrow their containers and areas if they're not annually pruned. 

Growing Zones And Conditions

The Mugo pine grows best in USDA plant hardiness zones 2 through 8, giving it a wide variety of growing zones. Very few areas in the country wouldn't be able to meet its growing needs. 

This tree is drought tolerant, making it a rather low-maintenance grower. It's one of few pine trees that could handle partial shade and windy conditions. Close up of dwarf mountain pine Mughus, Mugo Pine Tree Care Guide for Beginners

Type Of Soil

The best type of soil for these evergreens is practically anything. Isn't that easy? The Mugo pine performs best when the soil is moist and well-draining. Well-draining soil ensures that there isn't standing water that will lead to root rot.

The ideal soil pH for the Mugo pine is between 4.0 and 7.5, but it's not necessarily picky. 

Light, Water, And Fertilization Needs

Partial sun to full sun is ideal for the Mugo pine's health and performance. This means that it should receive at least 4 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.  

As far as water goes, these trees are pretty easygoing. At maturity, the trees do not need as consistent of a watering schedule. During its younger rooting years, water it as needed throughout the summer months to ensure that the soil is never completely dried out.

Applied fertilizers are not crucial for the Mugo's health and success. If you want, you can fertilize it annually with compost or some other organic compound.

Step-By-Step Growing Guide

  • Pick a spot in your landscape that will accommodate the variety's growing needs and space
  • Make sure the tree receives at least 4 full hours of direct sunlight
  • If it's young, water it enough so that the soil is never fully dried out
  • Fertilize annually for additional health benefits
  • Monitor its growth and adjust care as needed
  • Enjoy your Mugo pine

Mugo Pine Photo Gallery

Enjoy these gorgeous photos of Mugo pines and start dreaming of all the ways you can plant your own.

Bonsai Tree

Mugo pines make for excellent bonsai trees. Because they're so low-maintenance, this type of bonsai is ideal for beginners. Bonsai growth attempts to keep the plants at a maximum height of 10 inches so that the focus can be on its movement and shape.

Tight Needle Growth

The tight needle growth of the Mugo pine bonsai makes it perfect for bonsai growth. The growth makes the tree look very full.

Container Tree

Pick out the perfect container to plant your Mugo pine in. There is a diverse selection of containers, so you're sure to find the perfect one.

Garden Dweller

This compact growth of dwarf Mugo pines is not only adorable but also very impactful on the overall landscape design. It's small but mighty with its rich color and texture.

Rock Garden Grower

The Mugo pine does well even planted in the midst of a rock garden. Consider adding this evergreen into the rock garden mix. 

Landscape Color

The dark green needles of this pine tree are lush, bringing an element of depth to the garden design. It pairs well with the purple blooms in the flower bed.

Intricate Needles

Even the needles and cones of this conifer show off. The needles grow in pairs of two and always give the tree a dense, full appearance.

Beautiful Bark Color

The bark of the Mugo pine is brownish gray with the older stems starting to split. The bark color looks beautiful with the bright green needles. 

Tabletop Interest

Bring some tabletop interest to your outdoor dining area. Grow the Mugo pine as a bonsai, keeping it trimmed and kept at a minimal height. 

Foliage Abundance

Plant your Mugo pine amidst a collection of other foliage-rich trees and plants. The color, size, shape, and texture contrast will form an unforgettable sight. 

Compact Shape

The Mugo pine can take on a very compact shape, displaying its dense growth and color in its rounded, upright shape. It will fit nicely into a lot of garden styles. 

Mass Plantings

These evergreens don't have to be stuck growing as lone trees. They make for excellent mass plantings and can be utilized in a variety of ways in the garden. 

Evergreen Garden Design

Combine evergreens with annuals and perennials for an explosion of color in the garden. Mulch the bed and border it with the material of your choice. 

Read more: 11 Types Of Edging For Gardens You Need To Know

Pine Tree Landscape

Create a landscape full of a wide variety of evergreens and pine trees. The long-lasting color will be appreciated year-round and provides a vast amount of garden intrigue. 

Evergreen Border

Utilize multiple Mugo pines in order to create an evergreen garden border. As the trees grow together, they'll form a seamless border.

Online Plant Shop

Now that you know more about these amazing trees and have seen some photo inspiration, you're probably itching to get your hands on your own Mugo pine tree. Check out the options below to start your own Mugo plantings!

Mugo Pine Tree Seedling

This order comes with one tree seedling that's ready to be planted. Transplanting and care instructions are included.

Click here to see more on Amazon.

3-Gallon Pot

This order includes a fully rooted Mugo pine in a 3-gallon pot. When it arrives, it will measure about 12 inches wide and tall. 

Click here to see more on Amazon.

Mugo Pine Seeds

This order includes 15 seeds. 

Click here to see more on Amazon.

Mugo pine trees are such a fun addition in any landscape. Let us know in the comment section below how you decide to use it in your landscape design! Before you go, make sure to check out these other excellent garden guides:

8 Fastest Growing Pine Trees For Landscaping

15+ Pine Tree Landscaping Ideas

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