New Scots Pine has needles browning... need help pls

sntshr88

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Dear bonsai experts, I request some help! I bought this new Scots Pine bonsai from a seller in Chino, CA (Southern Cal) a few weeks ago as a gift to a dear friend who lives in San Francisco. Unfortunately, they kept the pine indoors (gasp!) for 2 weeks after receiving it (despite clear instructions to keep it outside). After 2 weeks, I visited them to find all the needles browning from the tips as shown in attached pictures. Many of the green needles away from the ends been falling off the branches too. I offered to nurse it back to health and brought it back home here in San Jose a week ago. I've been keeping the plant outdoors in sunlight for past week and made sure the soil stays moist and not too dry. I watered the plant 3 days ago last and soil is still wet, the plant doesn't seem to be taking in much (it's mid summer here now, 70-80F).

Is it too late to save it? Have we killed it by overwatering/root rotting? I always made sure that excess water was coming out of the holes at the bottom of the pot. I have taken some pics of the roots now to show you... (unfortunately I don't have pics of roots when I first got the plant to compare). Please advise!
 

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Shibui

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Sad but all too common story.
Needles do not look good but there are still some that look healthy. Hard to predict with conifers because many are dead even before needles start to brown but while there is still green there is still hope.
The tree is obviously not using much water but I am still surprised that the soil does not dry out just from evaporation in Cal summer.
I would still water according to the soil even if that means only watering once a week. The only other thing to do is cross fingers and wait for it to decide one way or the other.
 

Wires_Guy_wires

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I agree with Shibui.

I think this tree took a serious beating. It's on the edge of death. I wouldn't get my hopes up too much.
One response I caught myself doing is to try and compensate with watering too often and too much. When the roots are damaged or not working properly, this response can be what kills them.
I can advise you to use a wooden chopstick and jam it in the soil. Take it out every day and check if it's damp. When it isn't, you water. When it is still damp, try to withold watering.
This should increase its chances a little.
 

Paradox

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This tree does not look happy at all.
I can see that this year's buds have not even opened yet but have stalled so its not even pushing new growth.
This means it is very very weak.

You have two issues with this tree.
The fact that it was kept inside which is a huge no no for a pine
Also you are in San Jose. I know you purchased it locally but San Jose but I dont think that the climate there is appropriate for Scots.
Scots pines are a mountain pine that need cold winters and not scorching hot summers. So not sure how well it will be able to recover in the summer heat of your location.
 
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You left it with you friend for two weeks and you’ve had possession of it again for 1, yes? I think I know the vendor you purchased the tree from based on it being in Chino, and based on the compressed look of that crap soil. They have a 30 day plant replacement policy; it’s worth a shot because that tree had problems before you got it…

They may say “too bad, so sad” but they also may not. The best they’d offer would be a replacement tree.
 

sntshr88

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Thank you so much for the responses, everyone! I will follow the wooden chopstick dipping in the soil to check for dampness before watering. I have it now in a spot in my backyard where it is in the shade during afternoon sun but gets some morning/evening sunlight. Fingers crossed!

I'll also contact the vendor to see if I can get replacement if possible (since this one itself cost a pretty penny!)
 

Potawatomi13

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Honestly this tree with that boringly straight trunk with the huge bulge in it was NOT worth a pretty penny any day.
 

Shibui

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Pretty sure this one is grafted and, in this case, I agree that is not a good graft for bonsai. Nor is the straight trunk and branches.
The tree may not be your idea of great - or mine - but the owner likes it so we try to stay positive and help if possible.
 

Paradox

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Pretty sure this one is grafted and, in this case, I agree that is not a good graft for bonsai. Nor is the straight trunk and branches.
The tree may not be your idea of great - or mine - but the owner likes it so we try to stay positive and help if possible.

I wholeheartedly agree with helping the owner of the tree in as much as we can.

As part of that, I feel that educating them (in a nice way) as to why this is not ideal material for bonsai is doing them a favor so they can make wiser choices in the future. It also might make them feel a bit better if the tree doesn't make it.

While not an ideal tree for bonsai, it still can serve for learning something that will translate to future trees, if it survives
 

sorce

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Normally we get the Giftee not the gifter, so we can... politely talk bad about how gifting a bonsai is a well intentioned mistake.

Welcome to Crazy!

Sorce
 

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