Mugo Update Kelly - Needle Cast? Help please ...

Kelly

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20160422_6.jpg 20160422_1.jpg 20160422_2.jpg 20160422_3.jpg 20160422_4.jpg 20160422_5.jpg Greetings all (and specifically Vance). I am a novice and welcome your comments/advice.

The following is an update on the Mugo I purchased approx. 2 years ago from a nursery in Ottawa, CA. Based on advice from Vance and others here (thanks), I cut off ~1/4 of the almost completely sand base and put the tree in a large (~12 in square) pond basket. The soil is still mostly sand with ~1/4 of the outer soil a bonsai soil of turfex, granite, composted pine bark. We moved from Ottawa (zone 5b) to Campbell River (Pacific NW, zone 7b) last July. I made a crate in my utility trailer (slated wooden crate with a tarp over it, pots wired to shelves, open tarp in mid/late afternoon, water and sun and then drive the next day; total distance 3000 miles) and all the bonsai arrived ok.

Since arriving, I didn't repot but think I have a fungus that doesn't seem to be responding to fungicides. I think it is needle cast and/or red bar. The tips of the needles are always yellow and the tree a pale green with barred needles that I remove when they appear. I have used "Green Earth - Bordo Copper Spray" several times a year - a wettable powder. I protect the soil with "saran wrap" until it dries. I recently acquired and applied "Daconil Fungicide Concentrate" for the first time. I have occasionally used (twice annually) Bonide Fruit Tree Spray - 11% Captan, Malathion 6%, Carbarl 0.3 %, other ingredients 81.7%. The application of these chemicals in an effort to stop the needle cast and to "green up" the tree and kill any critters. (none seen).

The Pacific NW winter = rain from Nov-Feb. The spring/summer/fall is drier than most think as we are in a rain shadow ... complete with water restrictions ... the locals here specialize in "shore pine" and other Pacific NW trees (many are frickin gorgeous) and they use Daconil like a religion ... they use a one half fish soil (composted pine bark and fish compost byproducts and one half either granite, lava rock or pumice - nothing else).

I joined the local bonsai club (excellent) and was advised when I asked if I should repot this season, that the tree was "weak" (I agree) and they wouldn't do anything this year. As per most pine people, they said the only time to repot was in early March - now past. I know that differs from Vance's advice. They prescribed full sun and fertilizer and no decandling or branch elimination until it is stronger.

Fertilizer: I use 20-20-20 mixed in water every 2 weeks from March to end Aug with an application of Miracid in Sept.

Re candles - For the two years I have had the tree; I have broken off the strongest candles when still soft (halfway) to redistribute the "juices" to weaker areas. Usually this is in the apex area. Last summer (July) I clipped off two lower branch tips totally (last 2 inches) to try and encourage some back budding. It appears to have worked as there are now numerous back buds especially on the branches I clipped. I have trimmed the needles from lower/upper sides of branches per Vance's advice.

Vance contacted me a couple days ago and asked me to email or post here so he could help (I welcome his and other comments).

Re the tree - many don't like the contorted, circle root nebari area but I sort of do ... Again I have not had the courage (novice and from advice here) to fully repot the tree in full bonsai soil or to try and "explore" where those wrap around roots go ... The scar was from one large branch removed in 2014, left as a 1" stump for 14 months and fully removed last August.

So ... the tree seems to be "weak", I am almost positive it has needle cast / red bar but it doesn't seem to be responding to the fungicides. It is budding and candling but never gets "all deep green"; the needle tips are almost always yellow. I water it with a hydrometer and only when it needs it ... it is in a pond basket so as Vance said a while back - it would be pretty hard to overwater ... I admit that sometimes I water the needles too; that probably is wrong with the needlecast issue.

Any help/suggestions/comments re needlecast, repotting this year or anything else? I would very much like to get it more vigorous / green. I think I am slowly losing the battle ... Like I said - I'm still a novice, listen to advice and welcome comments. Sorry for the length but I was trying to fully describe the tree, fungus, what I have done.

Thanks!!!
Kelly
 

Vance Wood

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I just found it and thanks for posting. Give me a bit of time to go over it and I will post again to this thread.
 

Vance Wood

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As the tree looks today I believe you are doing fine with it. Do not break off any candles just allow them to get stronger. We will take another look at making decisions in July. I would like to see how the tree is doing as the year progresses. Be very careful of the new candles elongating along the branches on old wood. These little branches are easily broken off. You have successfully started a cycle of vigorous back budding and that in itself is a good reason not to push the tree by trying to repot. I would appreciate you letting me know when you are considering doing anything that someone has suggested that you do.

Just to let you know a short history of Mugo bonsai in America as it relates to me. Most people up until a couple of years ago would tell you that trying to grow a Mugo as a bonsai was an exercise in futility. Most people claimed that they could not keep the Mugo alive for more than a couple of years. For the most part most of these individuals insisted on grown them according to the instructions you find in the books and magazines on two needle Pine culture. Most of this is focused around the Japanese Black Pine. If you follow this method you are going to have difficulties for the most part, you may even kill the tree. I do everything bass akwards according to many but I have had Mugos alive since 1972. This Mugo was acquired from Franks Nursery in 1972. It is now in the process of a restyling that started several years ago. IMG_2091_11Show_VWood_Mugo copy.jpg
 

Kelly

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Thanks Vance ... so you don't think the tree has needle cast or red bar?? The needle tips are yellow and there are numerous needles that start halfway with a blemish and then a bar and then half the needle dies ... I won't repot or break any candles this year and will continue with the fungicide treatments and fertilizer ... thanks!!!
 

Vance Wood

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Continue with the Daconil, I don't think it will hurt the tree, I just not sure it will help either. One thing I have noticed about Mugos is that some of the cultivars have the tendency to have needles that look the way you have displayed yours.
 

sorce

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Yeah....
It looks better than mine!

Wicked tree!

Sorce
 

M. Frary

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some of the cultivars have the tendency to have needles that look the way you have displayed yours.
I have one I swore was dieing. But it is just it's winter color.
It's greening up at this very moment.
 

petegreg

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I'm second for the fungicide use, it'll not hurt and can protect.
Truly, I'm not sure it's a needle cast, I suspect it is the consequence of this Kelly's statement: "The Pacific NW winter = rain from Nov-Feb."
 

M. Frary

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I'm second for the fungicide use, it'll not hurt and can protect.
Truly, I'm not sure it's a needle cast, I suspect it is the consequence of this Kelly's statement: "The Pacific NW winter = rain from Nov-Feb."
When mugo pines like to be frozen.
 

Vance Wood

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From what I see from Kelly's pictures, the little Mugo seems to be doing great. I don't see any evidence of needle cast but the application of Daconil will stop that any way. Again; the tree is back budding like crazy and I don't see anything that would suggest immediate attention. The baby sneezes and you run to the hospital. This is a standard reaction to a new baby. However it does not hurt to ask.
There is one thing I have been suggesting that I have noticed no one doing. Go through and cut off all of the downward growing/facing needles. This will help open the interior of the tree and help all those new buds to develop and allow a major cut back when wanted.
 

Kelly

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Thanks to all for your comments ... I am pretty sure the tree acquired the red bar - dothistrama (sp?) in Ottawa where it is widespread. I will continue with the daconil treatments. As I understand it; you might be able to control it but not be rid of it ... There are some pretty accomplished bonsai artists / growers out here in Lotus land ... and they use Daconil every 2 weeks on shore pines, mountain hemlock, etc. As to the needles - I have pored over Vance's videos and posts and have trimmed all the upper/lower needles off the branches on this tree. This tree has never been wired as I'm trying to create the back budding and establish the "eventual" form. I have also followed Vance's technique of trimming back "this year's growth" as per one of his videos (in the last 2 years). The tree has produced up to 6 buds on each branch and I have removed all but two for the next year ... Part of my problem as a novice is that some of the techniques described are for established trees (e.g. to regain the shape) and others are for both developing and established trees.
As to climate, it does get "sort of" cold here - winter temps are zero C or 32 F +- 5 degrees overnight and ~ +5 C or 40-45 ish degrees F during the day plus some pretty epic rainstorms and almost hurricane force winds from the SE. We had a couple days of snow. It melts the next day ... There is snow / skiing etc. about 1000' in elevation above us ... maybe I will take it up there and bury it next winter ... I will try and take some better pics of the red bar issue too ... I kinda want to get the tree into real bonsai soil too ... it came in almost 100 % sand. I am not sure of the cultivar - the tag said "pinus-mugo" so not much help. Very long needles. I have another smaller one that has half the needle length and is much denser ... Anyway, thanks to all for the comments .. especially Vance ... still on the Mugo train ... If anyone has additional advice - feel free.
 

Adair M

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You might try a systemic fungicide. Cleary's 3336.
 

Paradox

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@Kelly
The thing with needle cast is that the needles on the tree tree are infected one full year before you see it manifested in the needles. The spray probably wont do anything to make the current needles green again but it may help the spread of it and it will keep the tree from getting infected again.

You need to keep spraying per the instructions on the bottle or on w/e fungicide you are using. I alternate with Daconil and a copper based fungicide on my trees from April - October.
You will need to apply fungicide every year to keep needle cast away from your trees.
 

0soyoung

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There is an excellent resource here on BNut for diagnosing issues manifested in pine needles. It, and many other web-accessible references, note that needle cast appears as a discoloration in the mid-length of the needle.

I don't see any such thing in the pic. I see yellowing/browning tips.

BTW, one thing not noted in the BNut resource is that many alpine species needles yellow in the winter. This is a mechanism to protect the thylakoids (part of the photosynthetic machinery) during cold times. Maybe this should be noted as a possible 'environmental' cause. It goes away on its own according to day length.
 

Potawatomi13

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As the tree looks today I believe you are doing fine with it. Do not break off any candles just allow them to get stronger. We will take another look at making decisions in July. I would like to see how the tree is doing as the year progresses. Be very careful of the new candles elongating along the branches on old wood. These little branches are easily broken off. You have successfully started a cycle of vigorous back budding and that in itself is a good reason not to push the tree by trying to repot. I would appreciate you letting me know when you are considering doing anything that someone has suggested that you do.

Just to let you know a short history of Mugo bonsai in America as it relates to me. Most people up until a couple of years ago would tell you that trying to grow a Mugo as a bonsai was an exercise in futility. Most people claimed that they could not keep the Mugo alive for more than a couple of years. For the most part most of these individuals insisted on grown them according to the instructions you find in the books and magazines on two needle Pine culture. Most of this is focused around the Japanese Black Pine. If you follow this method you are going to have difficulties for the most part, you may even kill the tree. I do everything bass akwards according to many but I have had Mugos alive since 1972. This Mugo was acquired from Franks Nursery in 1972. It is now in the process of a restyling that started several years ago. View attachment 102609
And looks Great:D!
 

Kelly

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Yes ... I had previously found and downloaded the diagnostic tool you refer to ... thanks. It is very helpful. I will take some better pictures of the barring on the needles and will continue with the Daconil and wettable copper treatments. I did not know about the yellowing of the needle tips during winter. Perhaps because I used to winter this tree in an outdoor insulated box and covered the pot with soil. In picture 1/7 above, the one showing the scarred trunk (from a branch removal) and the new smalls buds on a forked branch with clipped ends, there are several needles with the banding, one with the initial dark blemish and a couple with the later stages of what I suspect is needle cast where half the needle is green and the other half brown. Perhaps part of the reason that the pictures don't show the severity of the infection, is because I remove these needles as they appear and burn them. The tree, although back budding and creating candles is slowly getting paler (perhaps because of the season/day length) and currently the tips were more yellow than ever observed. Vance had seen a video of the tree, emailed me and asked me to create this post so that he (and others) could comment and provide advice. Being a novice with mugos, I am glad that the experts here are not too concerned and think the tree healthier than I do and that it is progressing. I also suspect or worry that the root ball is a hard(er) "sand ball" surrounded by a small amount of true bonsai soil and not getting enough water as the tree has never been fully repotted and the nursery soil was almost 100% sand. I have tried to water it thoroughly and slowly and come back 10 minutes later and soak it again to ensure that it is fully watered (~twice/week). As it is in a pond box or plastic box that is "grated" on all sides / bottom; I trust that any excess water can drain away. On other waterings, I water it less thoroughly without the "repeat visit". I use a simple hydrometer (probe with a meter on top) to help me determine how wet the interior is and I let it go to threshold between dry/moist before watering again. This time of year (daytime temps +50-65, night 35-45) and little wind = 2-3 days between waterings. During summer, the tree needs water every day (day temps 75-85 F, night 55-65. The tree is always in full sun.
Although it is sending out candles and back budding - it is quite a pale green with the yellow tips and some evidence of the needle cast (it has been treated with fungicides 1/4ly over the last 2 years).
Vance and experts here do not recommend a repot this year due to the tree's condition; partly because they assess it as "weak" and Vance seems to feel (above) that with all the back budding, repotting this year will stress it further. We shall see. Thanks for your comment.
 
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