Leaf water potential of 854 planted and naturally established ponderosa and lodgepole pine seedlings from sample plots on the Front Range of northern Colorado was measured in the field using a pressure chamber. Air temperature, vapor pressure deficit, soil moisture, and aspect were highly correlated with leaf water potential. Significant differences in water potential between plantings were related to species, seed source, year of planting, and shoot/root ratio. Ponderosa pine usually required two growing seasons after planting in prevalent subhumid conditions before new root growth was effective in raising low leaf water potential to the level of natural seedlings. Forest Sci. 22:344-350.