cynewulf180
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Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2008 10:12 am
Location: Alabama, United States

My pine trees are dying!

I was given a few pine saplings a few weeks ago as a birthday present from someone who knows I have an interest in bonsai. I've never grown them before, though, so I'm kind of at a loss for what to do!

All 3 are about 10 inches tall, plus the roots, and I've got all 3 currently in a large plastic pot, about 12 inches in diameter, and about 8 inches of soil. Some metal skewers and some unfolded paper clips are currently serving to keep them perfectly upright, as planting them about 3-4 inches in the soil still left them leaning a little. I watered them once when I potted them, and since then I've left them outside on my covered deck, moving them out from underneath the roof when it rains so they get watered whenever regular trees would get watered. Recently it has started to get very cold, and on nights that threaten frost, I'll pull them inside to an unheated stairwell. Despite my best efforts, though, they're all starting to wilt!

Any ideas?

alexinoklahoma
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Location: Central Oklahoma

So...you just recently 'repotted' these? And you buried them deeper than they were originally? If so, there is no chance of 'revival', IMO. Most species will not tolerate it when they are 'smothered' above the soil line (long explanation, so to speak).

A seedling/sapling should not need any 'support' whatsoever. If it does, it definitely has weak roots, or not enough root system to be effective. Also, it is good to use 'rainwater', but only if it given when it is needed, not just happenstance. If Pinus is kept in 'soggy' soil, (eventual) death is usual result. This is moot if rain(s) are when the trees needed watering, but if soil was already good-to-go and *then* even more water added...trees may have 'drowned' (???) Not really enough info overall, but if anything happened such as I mentioned, bad news sure to follow. Sorry to say such ;-)

One more thing, if the soil stays soggy when 'watered', the roots are probably rotted. Did you use typical potting soil, or dirt from yard?

It is very hard to 'freeze' most any Pinus - frost will not harm them whatsoever ;-) Better to let them freeze than to bring inside. Colder temps should have the roots protected in ground or such, but they are not as sensitive as you may presume (??).

More info, or pics, would be of tremendous help here. Plus, what type of pine are you referring to? For general info, go to www.evergreengardenworks.com/articles.htm worth the effort, I promise :-)

Alex

cynewulf180
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Location: Alabama, United States

Not really repotted, I suppose.. they came with the roots bundled in bags, and I tried to put them at about where the bags were tied off. The root systems were very small, and like you said, not effective.

I used potting soil that I had kept dry for the past few months, and the pot they are in drains well.

alexinoklahoma
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Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2007 12:21 pm
Location: Central Oklahoma

This time of year, the roots of (most) Pinus are 'asleep' (or almost so) so they are not going to be able to generate enough 'growth', or 'action' to keep tree(s) alive. There's always root damage with transplanting (always!!) so chances are the roots are failing to keep the hydrostatic pressure required to maintain 'firmness' in the tissues. So it goes 'limp' (right??)..

Potting soil, no matter how dry it once was, simply sucks for potted 'plants'. I learned this long ago the hard way (unfortunately). The stuff labeled 'extended moisture control' or whatever will kill potted trees in no time ;-) Its great for tropical 'houseplants', but not tree species.

I bet you planted much too deep - Pinus would rather be too shallow than too deep, for sure. It is close-to-impossible to tie a bag at soil-line, IME - better to just bare-root when temps/*season* are appropriate.

It is possible the tree(s) will die-off to point of it recovering. Just let them be and cut off dead stuff *if/when* new growth shows lower on tree. The amount of living roots will dictate how much of the above-soil tissue stays alive. No roots left = death (as you likely know). Some still-living roots just may keep some of above-ground growth viable and it will not be until Spring that you know if they are total losses.

HTH,
Alex

cynewulf180
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Location: Alabama, United States

Good information; thank you for your advice so far! I am now left with just two questions:

1) What would be the proper soil for me to be using?

I'm guessing something like the 70-100% grit + 0-30% humus mixture, or one of the articles I read on this site said that some people in Japan use 100% sand (really?!) would be best, and I am fully aware that without knowing exactly what kind of tree I have (I wish I knew) and exactly the conditions are where I live, you're not going to be able to give a perfect recommendation, but are the guidelines in that article generally pretty good, in your opinion?

and

2) Should I transplant again now?

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cynewulf180,
I'm guessing something like the 70-100% grit + 0-30% humus mixture, or one of the articles I read on this site said that some people in Japan use 100% sand (really?!)
I have a group of three year old Pine seedlings that are potted in a 100% inorganic medium and they are doing fine. The mix is 50/50 Haydite and Lava. Someone once said their soil drains like a pot full of coat-hangers and this certainly does.

Be careful when you read sand and think sand. If I were to bet I would say that the person who wrote that has an entirely different idea of what sand is. Think small gravel, not play-sand or beach-sand.

Norm

alexinoklahoma
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Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2007 12:21 pm
Location: Central Oklahoma

I would not repot right now as it would be a one-two punch that would likely knock tree all the way 'gone'... May be much better to wait 'til much closer to Spring when new growth appreciates sunshine so much more ;-) I am thinking that if you keep soil more 'dryish' but not dusty, so to speak, and pull away soil down towards nebari, it won't get much worse than it would otherwise (damage to roots is already done, so no chance of changing outcome *there*).

Sand should definitely be thought of more like 'river-sand' or even aquarium gravel. I've seen plenty of folk that call 'turkey grit' sand like they have never been upon a beach or shoreline, LOL. Lost in translation, I bet...


I really like the 'drains like coat-hangers' bit -so very true!!!!

G' Luck!
Alex

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