Friday fun!

It’s the holidays, but this pine tree is feeling anything but merry.  It was installed about a year ago.  While the upper foliage looks lush and green, the lower branches have no new needles and in fact the current needles are dropping:

This is a two part question:

1)  What might be directly responsible for the needle decline on the lower branches?  (Hint:  this is caused by the plant itself.)

2)  What might be the underlying stress causing the needle decline?  (Hint:  this is caused by by people.)

Additional photos on Monday will reveal all!

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Linda Chalker-Scott

Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott has a Ph.D. in Horticulture from Oregon State University and is an ISA certified arborist and an ASCA consulting arborist. She is WSU’s Extension Urban Horticulturist and an Associate Professor in the Department of Horticulture, and holds two affiliate associate professor positions at University of Washington. She conducts research in applied plant and soil sciences, publishing the results in scientific articles and university Extension fact sheets. Linda also is the award-winning author of five books: the horticultural myth-busting The Informed Gardener (2008) and The Informed Gardener Blooms Again (2010) from the University of Washington Press and Sustainable Landscapes and Gardens: Good Science – Practical Application (2009) from GFG Publishing, Inc., and How Plants Work: The Science Behind the Amazing Things Plants Do from Timber Press (2015). Her latest effort is an update of Art Kruckeberg’s Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest from UW Press (2019). In 2018 Linda was featured in a video series – The Science of Gardening – produced by The Great Courses. She also is one of the Garden Professors – a group of academic colleagues who educate and entertain through their blog and Facebook pages. Linda’s contribution to gardeners was recognized in 2017 by the Association for Garden Communicators as the first recipient of their Cynthia Westcott Scientific Writing Award. "The Garden Professors" Facebook page - www.facebook.com/TheGardenProfessors "The Garden Professors" Facebook group - www.facebook.com/groups/GardenProfessors Books: http://www.sustainablelandscapesandgardens.com

8 thoughts on “Friday fun!”

  1. unless my eyes deceive me it looks to be sitting in some sort of puddle. i don’t see any root flare either. too much mulch around the trunk?

  2. Planted too deep, probably significantly. This causes the trunk to begin to rot below the soil, causing an inablitiy to take up necessary nutrients.

  3. Isn’t needle drop on inner and lower branches normal on pines? But this one also seems to be planted too deeply. Also, I can’t tell from the photo, but the soil in front of the pine is either compacted or wet or both … and, do I note hints that it has been hit by a string trimmer?

  4. I can’t really speak to the second part (though that seems to have a consensus already), but I’ve got a guess at the first part about why the needles are dropping.

    It looks like the top is much denser and more importantly, broader, than the bottom. So, the tree is shading itself, and the lower branches aren’t growing any more.

    Couple that with normal needle drop on old branches joene mentioned et voila, no more green on the bottom.

  5. It looks it is planted too deep. I find most common with large planted evergreens is many landscape crews in the rush to get them installed never seem to even bother taking the heavy nylon twine that twists arounds the trunk off much less the the rest of the root ball – that would cut into the bark and stress it out. Also it is pretty close to a building foundation – maybe lime from the concrete is leaching out.

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