Key Message: The first bottleneck in Spanish black pine survival through afforestation is the lack of resistance to drought in their initial life stages. Abstract: Spanish black pine (Pinus nigra Arn ssp. salzmannii) is the most widely distributed pine species in mountain areas of the Mediterranean Basin and is commonly used for afforestation in endangered and degraded areas. Despite its importance, little is known regarding the factors driving seedling survival for this species, which may hamper afforestation success in Mediterranean areas. In this study, we assessed the effects of seed origin and plantation site along a natural gradient with contrasting elevation and climatic conditions in a Mediterranean forest in Central-Eastern Spain. Our results showed: (1) higher seedling survival rates when seed origin differed from plantation site (25.3 ± 5.4%) compared to same origin and plantation site (5.3 ± 2.7%); (2) higher survival probability (~ 20%) for high and medium elevation seeds (colder and wetter locations) compared to the warmer and drier low elevation sites (15%); (3) higher seedling survival (~ 40%) at higher elevation sites compared to low-elevation sites (< 20%); and (4) increased hazard of seedling death with decreasing elevation of the plantation site. We also reported a complete mortality at the drier sites after the first summer following the plantation. Overall, the combination of seeds from medium elevation and high elevation plantation sites increased the survival of Spanish black pine. These results have direct implications for forest management of Spanish black pine in Mediterranean regions, particularly in current and future climate change scenarios.