What’s up with my Swiss Arolla Pine?

Discussion in 'Off Topic / Chit-Chat' started by TBRO, 14 Apr 2019.

  1. TBRO

    TBRO Member

    Messages:
    947
    Hi, wondering if there are any conifers experts on here? I’ve got a bit of a mini arboretum in my garden (Legacy of a brief flirtation with Bonsai).

    I like the trees anyway for the greenery.

    I have a number of pines, The Arolla pine (Zirben in German). Has been in the ground 3 seasons but never grows much and has yellow, unhealthy looking needles.

    I have other pines that grow and seem healthy. My soil is clay, fairly poor drainage but not water logged. pH 7.4 ish. Wondering if I should dig it up and put in a large pot. However I’m unsure if it needs Ericaceous or Chalky substrate. I always imagined the Alps would have chalky, thin soil? Any tips? Thanks T

    Sad Arolla
    [​IMG]

    Happy Mugo pine

    [​IMG]

    Japanese Black Pine

    [​IMG]


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  2. mort

    mort Member

    Messages:
    773
    Hi, I might not be much help but does it always have the yellow needles? I ask as it common to see yellowing needles after winter where the older ones have been dryer out by the wind or damaged by the cold. This tends to happen on one side of the tree. If the new growth tips are green then it might just be a natural aging process where the older needles are being shed. I believe there is also a disease that effects pines and leads to needle loss but I think it would be more localised rather than all over.

    I don't think soil is too much of a problem as they will slowly change the localised pH with their shedded needles but I know many pines aren't as long lived on shallow chalk soils.
    Other things it could be is competition from the silver birch either side. Birch are shallow rooted so might be taking alot of the goodness from the soil and outgrowing the pine. There is an old saying, 1st year sleeps, 2nd year creeps, 3Rd year leaps, meaning it takes time for the roots to become established before you get a growth spurt. What I would be tempted to do is improve the local soil around it with a thick organic mulch and begin feeding it every week or so in the growing season with a feed. Nitrogen is good for leaves and phosphorus for the roots.
     
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  3. TBRO

    TBRO Member

    Messages:
    947
    Thanks mort, could well be the birch robbing the nutrients. It’s relatively sheltered (at least compared to a mountain side!), so probably not cold/wind.

    I remember reading that Birch are typically colonists of new ground, hence thriving in my new build garden! I did dip all the roots in microrhizal fungi + tried to work in some organic matter but as with most new builds the soil is poor.

    [​IMG]

    Will do as you say and watch the new needles develop this season.

    Thanks again. T


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  4. mort

    mort Member

    Messages:
    773
    Hopefully it's just a temporary thing. I do know that if you add to much organic material into the planting hole then it can limit root development as the roots don't grow out into the soil looking for goodness. So it could be a limited root ball acting like the tree is still in a pot. If it is then as the roots grow out into the soil things should improve but I'm not a pine expert at all so hopefully someone with more knowledge will chip in.
     
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