Douglas Fir(?) in pot seems to be dying- help!

Discussion in 'Gymnosperms (incl. Conifers)' started by taotu, Apr 11, 2008.

  1. taotu

    taotu Member

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    Hi- I am absolutely useless at caring for plants of all sorts. My favourite tree seems to be going on me, and I don't know what to do!

    A few years ago I got a small tree (just barely sprouting) from my aunt, and rather than let it die, I decided to try and grow it. My mother's theory is that it's a douglas fir- hence I kept it in a pot- and have been repotting it from time to time as it grows.

    In January, its needles started turning brown. I was concerned, but hoped it would pass- now the whole tree seems to be going brown, even as the new growth comes in perfectly healthy.

    What's going on? What's happening to my tree, and is there anything I can do about it?

    I can provide pictures and more info if necessary- thanks for any help you can offer.
     
  2. jimmyq

    jimmyq Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Douglas fir in a pot? I would look in to drainage / watering frequency first, rootbound second, light exposure third. Then look at the foliage and other parts of the plant to see if there is any evidence of fungal or other infections.
     
  3. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Keeping a Douglas-fir in a pot seems to me a bit like keeping an elephant in a bedroom . . . there's not enough room for it. It wants to be in the open ground.
     
  4. jimmyq

    jimmyq Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    no arguement from me on that point Mr. F.

    :)
     
  5. taotu

    taotu Member

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    Trust me, had I known it was a Douglas-fir, I wouldn't have taken on the emotional investment of trying to keep a piece of the 'family tree'. It really is very, very tiny, though, hardly even 12 inches high.

    As a general tree-in-pot information- how can I tell when I should move it from a small pot to a bigger one?
     
  6. tsugajunkie

    tsugajunkie Active Member

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    Generally when the roots start to fill the pot or go out the drainage holes. What kind of soil is it in?
     
  7. taotu

    taotu Member

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    Erm- soil from the garden, but when I repot it I put compost in with it.
     
  8. dirt reaper

    dirt reaper Member

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    How big of a pot is it currently in?
     
  9. taotu

    taotu Member

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    Here are some pictures- you can tell me if we've totally misidentified it.

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  10. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    It's a Norway Spruce, not a Douglas-fir.

    It certainly doesn't look happy; check for aphids - inspect the underside of the foliage with a magnifying glass.
     
  11. dirt reaper

    dirt reaper Member

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    Bigger Pot!
     
  12. taotu

    taotu Member

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    There are lots of woodbugs and ants living in the soil underneath it, could that be causing any damage? I'll look for aphids post-haste- if I find them, what should I do about it?
     
  13. tsugajunkie

    tsugajunkie Active Member

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    My guess is that your garden soil does not drain properly for a container (unless you have sandy soil, most don't) and your roots may be rotting or suffocating because of it. Look at the medium container conifers are sold in and try to mimic it. Adding compost will only help if you also add something like pine bark chips, vermiculite or other coarse things to help with air access and drainage. The critters under the pot are not the issue. Given the size of the top I too would normally suggest a bigger pot, but if the roots are indeed compromised you don't want to overpot while they try to re-establish. If there are aphids, you can spray them off with water. They are soft-bodied and are killed easily- but still look into the drainage.

    tj
     
  14. taotu

    taotu Member

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    Thank you for all your help- The soil was WAY too compacted, when I examined it, and I'm sure it was causing the roots to suffocate. On top of that, there were aphids everywhere! I sprayed it with water extensively and aerated the soil some, added some wood chips to stop the problem from happening again. So- wish the little tree luck in its recovery- and thank you so much! (Now I just have to figure out what to do with a tree that could grow that tall...)
     
  15. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    At first, it looked similar to Douglas fir, but now that you mention it, the way the needles seem to be attached around the stem and on top of the stem with the small peg-like attachements, the spruce idea seems likely.

    Has a nice form, but not a nice appearance.
     

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