Dying potted pine

Discussion in 'Gymnosperms (incl. Conifers)' started by kukkonka, Jan 10, 2010.

  1. kukkonka

    kukkonka Member

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    I've had trouble with most of my coniferous plants. They tend to die.
    I've had this potted pine for over a year and it's been slowly getting more and more brown from the bottom up reaching about half way up the tree that is only 60cm high. I thought it might be lack of moisture but this is not the case and the side of the pot has little patches of white mold near the base. It's been outside throughout the seasons but I brought it inside to give it a little change of scenery. That doesn't seem to have made a difference.
    Any suggestions on what I might be doing wrong or what I could be doing better?
    regards,
    Kukkonka

    Here are some pictures in festive dress.
     

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  2. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Dwarf White Spruce Picea glauca var. albertiana 'Conica'.

    Check for spider mites, a common problem with these. Otherwise, keep the air humid and cool, in winter ideally only just above freezing up to 5° or at most 10°. Indoor heat in a house is not good for it when it is dormant.
     
  3. kukkonka

    kukkonka Member

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    Well... I thought it might be an infestation but the browning started many months ago while the plant was still out in the cold. I don't see any of the typical signs either.
    But I'll see if I can get a closer look.

    In any case the brown needles have been creeping up the trunk for more than half a year now.
     
  4. ken adrian

    ken adrian Member

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    its a tree.. aka conifer .... it should have been left outdoors for winter .... they do just fine in my z5 MI .... there is no reason it should not have done OK for you outside ...

    first.. you mention it was already cold when you brought it in ... could it have been in dormancy ... or cycling toward such.. and you disturbed its normal cycle???

    second.. do you have a forced air furnace??? ... the house can be extremely dry, or lack the humidity that a conifer needs ....

    third .... these conifers like extremely dry soil.. in my yard anyway .... full and complete drainage .... if you are keeping the potting media damp at all times... that is probably too much water.. especially if it is a peat based media ...

    finally, as Michael noted.. they are notorious for spider mites ... take a sheet of white paper.. tip the plant over.. and give it a good but gentle rub... you will see black spots on the paper if you have mites .... they can be taken care of with a heavy shower .... i blast them with the hose outdoors ... or with pyrethrum based indoor bug controls ...

    it sounds TO ME.. like you have STRESSED THE HECK out of this conifer.. in the name of TLC .... and i fear.. that even if you solve all the problems.. you are going to have one very unique looking specimen ... by which i mean ... UGLY ... it might just be easier to get rid of it.. and buy a small cheap pretty one.. that makes you happy.. rather than messing around trying to save this one.. unless the challenge, is what makes you happy .... your choice..

    good luck

    ken
     
  5. kukkonka

    kukkonka Member

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    Thank you for all these tips. I think the issue may be overwatering. I saw some mite like things and I hopefully cleaned those out.

    The plant has been inside for 3 weeks but the browning started many months before that. And my house is actually quite cool (often cold), while humidity has never been a problem.

    The bigger problem is the summers. It tends to get very hot where I am and even though I keep this plant in the shade it doesn't seem to like the heat.

    I'm willing to put in the effort to keep it alive even if it ends up looking ugly.
     
  6. ken adrian

    ken adrian Member

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    now .... why are your potted conifers dying .... besides the fact that you think they are all PINEs ... lol ...couldnt help myself..

    how long has it been in the pot??? did you pot it???

    have you ever tipped it out.. and see if the roots are going.. round and round.. and round???

    is there actually any soil in the pot.. or is it all roots ????

    if you did repot it.. what type of potting media did you use???

    give us some more facts.. and perhaps we can bring you up to speed on growing conifers in pots ...

    ken
     
  7. kukkonka

    kukkonka Member

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    Well.... you got me... I don't know much about conifers, or plants for that matter. But I like having them around and sometimes they die. But most of them seem to like me enough to stay alive.

    I bought this plant in a pot. It was obviously just out of the green house. The needles where very soft. I put it into a clay pot that was the same size as the plastic pot it came in so I didn't need to add any dirt. That was over a year ago. I haven't looked at the roots since but they are more than likely overrunning the pot.

    My cacti and succulents look great though.
     
  8. JamesVA

    JamesVA Member

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    I'm late to the party, but if it's been inside for 3 weeks it could be done for (sorry). Even a cold house is no match for an outdoor winter. I would suggest trying a new one and keeping it outside in full sun all year. We have these trees planted all around my area (eastern US), which is a lot hotter than Vancouver. Nearly all (not all, but most) conifers tend to do best in full sun. Dwarf Alberta Spruces will typically show die-off on any side that isn't exposed to full sun in the growing season.

    With potted plants it's important to get the watering and the soil right, but after that, I'd just leave them to handle the elements, as a rule.

    Best of luck, and hopefully you'll continue with conifers, as they're great plants!
     
  9. kukkonka

    kukkonka Member

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    Hi....

    Well it's still alive. I blasted out all the dead needles in the shower and brought it outside. I once got advice to keep it out of the sun because part of the top of it went brown and someone suggested it might have got burned. I live in Hungary at the moment and summers can get pretty hot +40 sometimes.

    K
     
  10. JamesVA

    JamesVA Member

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    Hi Kukkonka,

    Well, if you're in Hungary and getting +40 temperatures regularly, that's pretty hot. I thought you were in Vancouver. I would still lean toward keeping it in the sun, but well-watered in such heat (as you may have been doing). Spider mites adore dry, hot conditions, so blasting the tree with water in the summer will annoy them. Hopefully it will recuperate! Best of luck,

    -James
     

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