Scots Pine Needle Size (Watering Difficulties)

No not mine but I have seen two almost dead pines during the last month and wanted to clear up a myth regarding watering of pines.

My own small Scots Pine is building up a nice framework of branching this previous three years.  Come the Autumn I will thin the tree out by around 40-50% to enable me to shape further. Minor pruning can be carried out now, but do ensure you seal cuts. For now the appropriate feeding and watering regime with a position of full sun all day, has given me quality sized needles.

Yes, the tree is rotated, but does indeed sit in sun all day long. Watering is generally twice daily at the moment, as the gorgeous weather we are having .. and owed some; is ensuring most of my trees dry out quite quickly. And it really was this watering I wanted to mention.

I’ve seen two pines during the last fortnight, one a Scots, and the other a Mugo. The latter is still hanging in there, but the Scots seems to be on the last legs. My first question was about watering, and in both cases it had been left to nature to provide water! There seems to be a significant myth about, that suggests Pines are watered very infrequently to ensure small needles and insignificant growth. This is complete ‘Hogwash’ and I’ll gladly argue the point with anyone. Yes, during winter if the pine /s are under cover then watering from mid to late October (Northern Hemisphere) should be kept to an absolute minimum until the first signs of growth the following year are seen; and that in both ends of the season it is weather dependant, so it is not a ‘complete rule of thumb so be careful. Kept outside you could and should be looking to limit rain water, as roots will rot if they sit in water. Just because you have free-draining soil it does not mean water will dissipate quickly; the roots themselves will create a dense rootball with Mycelium and soggy soil you have a wonderful base for potential root rot.

Usually about mid Spring through Summer the Pine will do what it has been waiting to do, and that is grow. By withholding water to keep needles short – is hugely detrimental to the pine, and will quickly see it flounder and probably die in part or full during warm weather. Watering two weekly this time of year is NOT enough. I’m watering my large pine daily and the smaller one at least twice daily. The heat build up inside that pot is hot indeed, and it is not unusual to find that just inside the pot it is at least 40c; clearly it needs cooling so you may prefer to put the pine in dappled shade during very warm bright sunny days. I do try to stand the watering cans full up in a dappled area to gently warm the water through; NOT HOT, just take that cold off. I personally have thought if I find it a shock someone pouring cold water over me right now, then the plants also may find it a shock. Not easy I know when you have many many trees.

So please please please … DO water your pines right now, they WON’T stand being  dry as a chip for anything like as long as you think they will.

My small Scots with a happy look in a John Pitt pot. 70cm in height. Dwarf variety of Scots Pine.

Scotty 15:07:13

Display Area Further Changes

Not a lot, but just a few subtle changes / additions. Have included some solar power pagoda style lighting (now I like I shall get some more). I need a solar light with a separate panel to install in the smaller granite lantern. Nothing around in the stores today … sigh (just full of sale stuff! 🙂

Brought over the K. Hornbeam triple trunk, shifted a couple and raked over, oh and picked up leaves. Would have done more but that wind today … waayyyyy too strong and drying out the evergreens very quickly. Very unusual to be watering right now. Using a moisture meter, they are drying out very quickly.

Anyway, latest image as of this afternoon. Further changes planned!

Started The Small JWP Finally

This smallish Japanese White Pine, (well, small to the rest of my collection), has been lurking for some years rather neglected. Mainly because I knew that work would show up the negative spaces. So on a mild December day, I made some changes. I don’t normally wire hard during early winter but have a suitable protective area for the tree; hence having wired pines all year round I have not this far found any problems doing it at this time.

It is OK for now. This coming growing year and the next couple will give me much to work with so the intention is to lessen the impact of the negative spaces. I even considered taking the top right off but decided against it. Anyway, just a day apart the before and after offerings.

A Couple Of Changes

Just spent an hour last night making further additions, changes to what will become the new display area over coming months. Mostly right now it is to live with it and see what develops. My good friends Paul B and Smithy have given me much to think about as well.

Currently the area is much smaller than it will eventually become. The lawn behind the gravel will become something for sure. The blue pot plants will be gone once the old patio is ripped up and replaced. Probably (but not certain) something else will be here. Saw a nice Oriental Pergola on eBay last night, am tempted 🙂

Small JWP

My much smaller and younger JWP, was to all intents and purposes, displaying exactly the same symptoms as the much larger and older one. At the same time as re-potting the large one I immediately decided that a full on re-pot should be carried out on this smaller version. Again, same MO with 100% root prune and hard I might add. No rinsing of roots as I allowed it to become pretty dry indeed. This benefits greatly as long as you get it right. Soil just falls away.

Much of the original beneficial mycorrhizal fungi was reintroduced and in direct contact with all cut areas of old roots. Much the same then as the larger version; black and dead roots. So at the same period (8 months ish on) health has fully returned, as has that beautiful blue green that five needle pines have.

The second image taken just a few days ago. During the next 12 months I will be thinning out and spending much type on shape. It was always a thought to recreate a miniature version of the much larger one. This first image was during Summer 2010; you can clearly see the difference in health and colour between each image.

Japanese White Pine …What’s in a season?

I mentioned elsewhere that during late 2009 and indeed 2010 I had concerns for my old Japanese White Pine. This tree has been in my family  for almost thirty years and I honestly didn’t like the was it was going.

You’d be forgiven then for assuming I might have got the proverbial finger out and run with a re-pot during 2010. But no, one reason and another dictated I was unable to undertake the re-pot. During the peak of growing during May and June 2010 I became aware it was struggling and whilst I could still have run with a re-pot at that time I chose to wait until 2011; assuming that late 2010, early 2011 would be  a fairly mild winter compared to the previous two! How wrong can you be.

With already damaged roots, 2010/11 almost wiped this tree out. I did NOT give it sufficient protection during the last winter and so it sat, anywhere from -3 or 4, to -14c. Weeks and weeks this cold snap lingered, and I knew then it was a late spring 2011 re-pot or the tree would be a ‘gonner.’ In essence the cold is not as bad as standing in water of course.

Under normal circumstances I would root-prune around half of the ball and follow this up two years later on the other half. When finally I lifted the tree I was horrified at the damage that three hard consecutive winters had brought me. You can see the root ball in more detail under ‘repotting’ on the main header bar.

I had no choice it was the lot. I removed all black and sludgy brown and went it pretty darned hard. During 2011 I carefully watched the JWP and started up a care and feeding regime that I thought might well work. Indeed it did and some seven to eight months after the re-pot I am delighted with progress. Most of all the two and three year old needles are now gone and that awful green to yellow colour has disappeared. I shall continue to work the tree next year and look forward to a much more healthy tree. Anyone reading this with doubts on hardiness of this species think again! They do not have the advantage of staying dry nor can they cocoon their roots deeper. I do advocate keeping a JWP very much on the dry side from November through winter and into early spring. This will help alleviate root rot from sitting water.

This first image is late Summer 2011 (current year) the second is from late summer 2010. What a difference a year makes! I live and learn 🙂