difficulties with Japanese Umbrella Pine

Discussion in 'Gymnosperms (incl. Conifers)' started by Murphy12, Mar 2, 2015.

  1. Murphy12

    Murphy12 Member

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    Hello, Our Japanese Umbrella Pine is about 17 years in this same location directly in front of our livingroom window. In Nov 2014 it started tipping over, so we pulled it back and secured it. In Feb 2015 it is starting to wilt. The top of it is flopped over, and the needles seem to be flopping over as well. The tree is still a lovely green colour. What could be causing this? We haven't changed anything that we been doing to it in the past 10 years.
     

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  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Maybe planted with bound roots with the top now big and heavy enough to pull the tree over. Root deformities are frequent and severe on woody nursery stock I see here - grafted conifers in particular. It can be very difficult to find acceptable material - even field grown specimens have often been kept in small containers during an earlier stage in the production cycle.

    Otherwise it just made a soft growth on your site that never became rigid enough to remain upright. I have sometimes seen other conifers that behaved as though boneless, became bent over.
     
  3. Murphy12

    Murphy12 Member

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    Thank you Ron B. We will do a little investigative digging this weekend. This has always been my favourite tree on the property, and I hope it can be saved.
     
  4. Murphy12

    Murphy12 Member

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    Ron B., you were correct, the root system on our Japanese Umbrella Pine is very shallow considering this is a 18 foot tree. As shows in the picture of it's roots, they are only about 6" deep and so thin. We have a layer of clay here in Walnut Grove, and when we bought the house the young tree was already planted with a thick layer of lava rock on it. Through the years we've tried to get rid of the lava rock, but didn't seem to do a good enough job of it. Every second year we added composted mulch and sometimes mushroom manure around the base of the tree.
    It looks as though the 10+ years of composted mulch is the only place roots have been growing.
    We want to save the tree, and are going to dig out the lava rock and clay layers. What soil, or mixture would you suggest we use?
     

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  5. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Replant in native soil without modification. Staking is probably the only thing that can be done about curvature and floppiness of stem.

    Saw a block of a named form of this tree at a garden center here with curving tops also. Set of plants presented as the straight species next door to this other grouping was not doing this. If your plant happens to be this same cultivar maybe that is your problem - variations of garden plants with defects that manifest themselves later in the development of the propagules are sometimes put on the market without sufficient observation and evaluation beforehand.
     
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  6. Sundrop

    Sundrop Well-Known Member

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    What is this stuff underneath the roots? Was the tree planted on top of a plastic sheet?
     

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  7. tsugajunkie

    tsugajunkie Active Member

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    If that is plastic, and it sure looks like it, that may be part of your woes.

    tj
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2015
  8. Murphy12

    Murphy12 Member

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    My apologies, this response is years old...That was landscape fabric. I now think what happened is the tree was originally planted with landscape fabric around it. We bought the 6 year old house, and just kept adding composted mulch on top of the landscape fabric (only moving the lava stones). I think over the next 12 years the only roots that grew were the ones on top of the fabric, into the mulch. We didn't realize the roots were only 6 inches deep after 18 years, and weren't able to keep the tree, and have learned a lesson.
     
  9. Murphy12

    Murphy12 Member

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    Thanks tj, the landscape fabric was part of our woes.
     

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