Is there a chance to save this pine?

emk

Mame
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I was up helping my grandparents move about a month ago and noticed two young pines growing in the back of their property. They were both between 6 and 8 feet tall and had a trunk caliper around 1.5 inches. I've never tried my hand at a pine, but since these trees would certainly be destroyed by the developer who was buying the land, I figured I'd attempt a "rescue."

I dug them up (they conveniently had a pretty compact root system and had been growing in rich, loose soil), loaded them into the Matrix, and drove them 2.5 hours back to my house to plant them the next morning. (Yeah, I know...I wince just thinking about it, but there really was no other time to do it.) Due to space, I planted one in the well-shaded back yard and the other had to go in the sunny front yard. I ammended my almost entirely clay soil with large-sized granite grit and peat moss. No trunk-chopping or foliage reduction was employed. I've been watering and misting the needles pretty regularly.

By now it's obvious that the deck was stacked against their survival chances, but the one in the back yard is doing just fine, while the one exposed to the hot summer sun is obviously in much worse shape. Almost all of its needles have lost their color and are drooping/falling off. While I'm happy that at least one of them is going to pull thru, it would be nice to know if there are any proactive steps I could take to try to salvage the other one at this late date.

A few options come to mind, but I'm not familiar enough with pines (or conifers in general) to know which would be better or worse for my struggling/dying tree:

1. Trunk-chop above the first or second whorl of branches. The lower branches still have some green needles, and since the tree is basically dying from transpiration, reducing the foliage mass that the re-establishing roots have to support may be helpful.

2. Ditto, but remove from the ground and plant in a grow-box in a open, inorganic bonsai soil mix. That way I can water the heck out of the roots and not worry about root-rot so much.

3. Soak the roots in clean water for for 24 hours then replant (either in the ground or in a grow-box). I've read that this is sometimes helpful for struggling trees...but that conflicts with the general idea of not bare-rooting conifers while transplanting. *shrug*

I'm planning on doing something tomorrow, but need some advice from the experts.

[Edit: Here are some images for reference (the debris pile is from some recent renovation projects I've been working on). Species ID for the living tree would be helpful down the road. Note that the bent top section of both trees is due to fitting it into my car for several hours (i.e., this tree does not have a pendular habit naturally).]
 

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I would cut back the trees quite a bit. Its obvious that they dont have the roots to sustain that much foliage, cut them back some and hope for the best. You could put them in a grow box with 100% pumice to help induce more roots. Also you could rig up some type of misting system to keep humidity up on the needles?

I am no expert so I might not know what I am talking about.

Ed
 

JasonG

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To me it sounds like the one in the front yard with full sun is a goner....dead...moved to the afterlife!!! You can try to cut it back and sve it but one thing comes to mind here..... Hope is the last thing to die!! As said by the great Walter Pall.


A picture would really help us here too.

Best of luck!
 

emk

Mame
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I added some pictures to the OP.
 
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Unfortunately it's a gonner!

EMK,

I think the one pine is a memory, no amount of cutting back is going to save it. Just be glad one survived. However, if you're going to make them Bonsai, you have a lot of work ahead of you.


Juniperus Californica
 
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