Mugho Pine loosing needles

Brent_In_NoVA(z7/6 VA)May 19, 2005

In late winter I planted a Pinus Mugho var pumilio purchased from Lowes. It has looked in good health and has been putting out new growth. The other day I noticed a lot of brown needles on the inside of the shrub and I was wondering if this was normal. Will it happen every year, is it just from being in a new home or is it not happy? I could take a picture if it would help.

The site gets full morning and noon sun and is shaded by trees in the evening. My soil is reasonably thick red clay, which I doubt is ideal for this plant. I cannot remember if I amended the soil at all when I planted. Sometimes I add some compost but I think I stuck with the "don't amend for shrubs" rule when I planted this. I have watered off and on, since our spring has had dry spells. I don't quite know how to tell if the plant might be too dry or too wet. The soil is generally moist under the mulch, but I know that new plants don't have a well establised root system.

What do you think? Should I be worried?

BTW, is the correct name Mugho or Mugo?

- Brent

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reg_pnw7(WA 7, sunset 4)

It is normall for conifers to drop older needles on the interior of the plant, or any needles that are too shaded. Evergreen doesn't mean 'never loses old leaves/needles', it just means that normally the plant does not go bare in between dropping old leaves and putting out new ones. Pine needles have a defined life span, 2 or 3 years, and after that the needles turn brown and drop off. Those are usually the ones on the interior of the plant.

No most pines don't like wet clay and it's possible you're keeping the soil too moist compared to how fast it can dry out. But you are right that such a newly planted plant will not have grown a root system much beyond that one that you pulled out of the can and put in the hole, so you need to keep the soil immediately around the root ball watered (but not constantly wet) and let the outer stuff dry out. It can take a long time for clay to dry out! Several days or weeks, sometime months depending on how deep you're talking about.

But if it's putting out healthy new growth and only losing a few of the older needles it's probably ok.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2005 at 7:30PM
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If they're all older needles on the inside, then it is OK, that's normal.

The correct spelling is mugo; the spelling with the 'h' results from a typo in an old encyclopaedia


    Bookmark   May 19, 2005 at 8:02PM
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Brent_In_NoVA(z7/6 VA)

Thanks. Below is a picture of the shrub. It is a little hard to tell much from the picture but you can make out some of the brown needles on the interior. I will keep an eye on it but try not to worry too much.

- Brent

    Bookmark   May 19, 2005 at 10:11PM
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pinetree30(Sierra Westside)

The pic shows you have plenty of older green needles (2004 at least) to support the growth of the 2005 needles and shoots now growing; so you have no problem.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2005 at 10:26PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

no problem there ....

normal leaf loss, plus maybe a little extra from its planting .. and whatever teh wholesaler did to it for delivery to lowes ...

i would gently stick your hand in .. and rustle all of it out of there ... might be a safe harbor for bugs or future problems ... and once you get rid of the brown in there ... you can begin to get over it .... it will just be nice and green .... and you will forget about it being an issue ...


    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 11:28AM
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I have 4 3-yr old mugho pines and 2 of them are going bald -- inside and outside --any suggestions? thanx

    Bookmark   September 10, 2006 at 10:43PM
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If the needles brush off, they're gonners. Replace!


    Bookmark   September 11, 2006 at 10:14AM
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