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

‘Shrooms’ Already!

In a brief moment without any rain, I thought I would seize the opportunity to have a ‘potter’ round outside.  I couldn’t help noticing all the Mushrooms and Toadstools growing away. Normally here in the South west of ‘Blighty,’ the emergence of same would not be until at least late September through to November end.

This 2012 year is turning into a horrible damp depressing one. I see and hear from many friends in the USA that are hugely burdened by excessive heat! What a shame we cannot meet halfway.

So out with the trusty camera for a few quick pictures of some of my very own garden ‘Shrooms!’


These winds right now are pretty darned bad. Even in the SW of England we are being battered by gusts of up to 70mph. I have a meter and have it set outside and have recorded 62mph in the garden.

Anyone using a greenhouse for protection should ensure the door is closed at this time. Wind entering can be very powerful and reduce it to rubbish. As long as it is anchored well, shut the door and you should be fine. Check any trees that are exposed, and pull them against a wall for further protection. Heavier trees are not such a problem but lighter ones can be picked up very easily.

Keep a close eye on watering. seems daft I know considering just how much rain we have had, but these drying winds can take moisture out of your evergreen varieties at an alarming rate.

Other than that, I hope you are not experiencing too much damage. Fingers crossed Friday forecast is accurate and that the winds will die back later tonight!

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!

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 🙂

Dwarf Scots Pine

Since re-potting a couple of weeks ago, which is much earlier than I would normally re-pot said variety; response has been fast with candles continuing to elongate perfectly.

Whilst the roots were not overly bad when it came to re-pot I made certain to leave some of the plump cream tipped  roots to ensure ongoing health. Whilst I did indeed take the overall root ball down much further than usual, the leaving of a few good feeder roots will generally ensure the health of Pines.

They can be so finicky at times when re-potted, hence I do like to mist this species a couple of times daily and keep out of wind but in some sunshine. Whilst a percentage of the old soil was introduced, to ensure some Mycorrhizal Fungi was returned, I also included new fungi during the re-pot. When undertaking this procedure it is important to ensure the added fungi is placed as close (touching) the existing root-ball as possible.

The soil mix is hugely free-draining and as such, I must be very careful with watering. Normally I like to let the soil dry slightly between waterings when freshly re-potted. With a 70% grit mix alas I cannot do this.

When freshly re-potted trees are first watered it is vital to ensure that the roots forming do everything to search out nutrients and moisture. Too much at this stage can make them become quite lazy. Once an approximate six-week period has passed, this initial watering reservation becomes virtually irrelevant.

The initial soil addition around the root-ball is nutrient free and completely inorganic; this ensures the roots will do all they can to locate ‘goodies’ that are elsewhere in the pot. The second level of soil does contain a small quantity of organic sustenance/nutrients. In time the roots will locate it and continue to grow happily.

Image taken yesterday. Pot is by John Pitt; not perfect but an improvement on the previous one. I am hoping to find a more primitive pot for the next re-potting session.

Once the tree is settled into the new home, I will be undertaking refining work during late summer when resin flow will be greatly reduced.