When do pine cones fall? And what to do with them

The number one thing to do with pine cones has to be to use them as a decoration (Photo:  Dan Lee/WTML)
The number one thing to do with pine cones has to be to use them as a decoration (Photo: Dan Lee/WTML)

Pine cones are the woody conical or round shaped fruiting body of pine trees. They are built up of individual plates known as scales. The female pine cones hold seeds and when the seeds are mature, the scales open up and the seeds are released. Pine cones stay in the tree for different lengths of time dependent on the species of the tree

When do pine cones fall?

Pine cones fall in autumn and can be found not too far from conifer trees and in conifer dominated woodland. There are two species of native conifer tree that produce cones: Scots pine and common juniper. The non-native black pine can also be found in the UK. All of these trees have different shaped pine cones and will hold on to the cones for different lengths of time.

What can you do with pine cones?

1. Decorations 

The number one thing to do with pine cones has to be to use them as a decoration. Pine cones can be perfect for giving your home an autumnal feel. Of course you can buy beautiful wreaths filled with pine cones, but they are actually very easy to make. Simply take your pine cones and attach them to a loop of wire until you have a full wreath that is ready to hang on your door. If you're looking for something even simpler, you can fill a clear vase with pine cones for a simple table centrepiece. You could also paint your pine cones and dip them in glitter for a sparkly twist.

Pine cones are a sure sign of autumn (Photo: WTPL / Stephen Davison)
Pine cones are a sure sign of autumn (Photo: WTPL / Stephen Davison)

How many uses can you find for pine cones?

Hunt for them in your nearest wood

Pine cones are produced by native Scots pines and common juniper, and non-native black pines (Photo: WTPL/Richard Becker)
Pine cones are produced by native Scots pines and common juniper, and non-native black pines (Photo: WTPL/Richard Becker)

2. Rustic bird feeder

It's getting to that time of the year where the birds need all the feed they can get. Using pine cones as a natural feeder can be a lot of fun to make and they are really pretty too. All you need to do is wrap some string around the pine cones with plenty left over to tie to a branch. Then mix your bird feed in with lard to make a wonderfully sticky mix and then coat your pine cone in it - this is a perfect job for little ones. As a final step you can roll your sticky pine cone in some dry bird feed and then hang it on a tree.

3. Mulch

The simplest thing you can do with your collection of pine cones is to take it back to nature and use them as mulch. You can use the pine cones as a natural slug repellent that lasts as the pine cones take a long time to break down. They can also reduce soil erosion and provide habitat for spiders.

There are many other ways to use pine cones. However you choose to use them, pine cones are naturally beautiful - enjoy them this autumn!

Do you know where to find pine cones?

Explore woods near you