Return to the Conifers Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
gambled on a Pinus mugo 'Valley Cushion'

Posted by echolane SFBayMidPen (My Page) on
Thu, Feb 16, 12 at 17:58

It looked nearly half dead in its two gallon nursery container with extensive browning of needles. I noticed it last year at the same nursery and passed it up because it looked a little off for the price of $39.99. Well, this time it looked WAY worse, yet I bought it, but at half price. It looks like a bad gamble at the moment but its an exceptional cultivar and I would sure like to try to salvage it. What should I do? Its obviously been in the container too long because it is a relatively large size at about two feet in diameter for this miniature cultivar and my first thought is to pot it up, but I cant pull it out of its container. So I'm rather certain I'll have to cut a lot of circling roots which might be its coup de grace......

Ideas appreciated!


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: gambled on a Pinus mugo 'Valley Cushion'

You're in a mild climate, so I'd say start working on it.
Once you have a look at the roots, then you'll know for sure.
I recommend a free-draining mix of fir/pine bark, perlite, and a small amount of peat/potting soil.
Aeration is the key to root-health. Remove the old soil from the roots, trim away
any circling, girdling, j-hooked, downward angling, or otherwise exceptionally woody roots,
then fill the new mix into all the spaces between the roots - don't leave any air-pockets.

You'll want to begin fertilizing, too. I usually wait a couple weeks after re-potting,
then I start with a 1/4 or 1/2 strength dose. Increase the fertilizer as we enter the
growing season.


Josh


 o
RE: gambled on a Pinus mugo 'Valley Cushion'

Okay, sounds drastic to bare root it and cut so much, but it definitely seems like what is needed. I have time tomorrow afternoon to do this and I can hardly wait to get started. Thanks!


 o
RE: gambled on a Pinus mugo 'Valley Cushion'

What Josh said, although I'd go very light on the ferts.

How do the buds look...or feel? That will determine its fate.
Any chance of a pic?

tj


 o
RE: gambled on a Pinus mugo 'Valley Cushion'

Echolane, this is a bit off topic, but I'm curious if you are also growing P. radiata?

Thanks, and good luck with the Valley Cushion!


 o
RE: gambled on a Pinus mugo 'Valley Cushion'

I would just take a utility knife down the side 5 or 6 times and criss-cross the bottom. New roots will come out without a problem.


 o
RE: gambled on a Pinus mugo 'Valley Cushion'

TJ, the buds look small and shriveled, but, really, no way for me to say whether they are still viable. Ive just not had the experience with anything that looks so uncertain. A ll I can say is I'm hoping most of them are viable. As I said, the plant looks like quite a gamble.

Ive never done a photo. Will give it try tomorrow.


 o
RE: gambled on a Pinus mugo 'Valley Cushion'

viable buds are usually hard as rocks... and tan in color ...

dead or rotting buds.. tend to blacken as the temps warm .. and become squishy ...

water it intensely .. maybe even soaking it.. and that might loosen it from the pot.. enough that you can pull it out ... the extra water wont hurt if you continue to bare root it ...

i have been known to sit on the ground.. put feet on each side of the pot.. and pull the trunk with enthusiasm ... and if that doesnt work.. to get back up.. lay the pot on its side.. and use one foot to push down until it flattens a bit .. then turn 45 degrees.. repeat all around.. then sit back down ...and tug that sucker out of there ...

if you are intent on repotting .. then forget about 'hurting it' ... its an inanimate object.. it will not feel pain.. and whatever slight damage you might do .. will be offset by unwinding the roots.. and putting it into new media.. etc ...

just do it.. you know it has to be done ...

you might want to keep in in shade for a majority of the summer... especially in mid to late afternoon ... just to keep it out of the real heat of the day .... most important if it is going into another black pot.. never let black pots sit in afternoon sun ....

ken


 o
RE: gambled on a Pinus mugo 'Valley Cushion'

Thanks, Ken. Ill find a way to wrestle it out of its container. But I might have to cut the container instead of stomping on it because the canopy is way broader than the container, but I plan to plunge the whole plant in a large tub of water first and maybe it will pull out then. As I said, ill work on it this afternoon.

P.S. to sluice, no, I don't grow Pinus radiata, just dwarf or miniature pines and other dwarf/mini conifers.


 o
RE: gambled on a Pinus mugo 'Valley Cushion'

Id be realy careful and cut the container away without damaging the roots.If its looking sad its probably because the top growth has continued to grow while the roots have been restricted.So try not to damage the roots you have.Instead maybe prune off a little of the top growth to try to re-balance then plant outside in a partialy shaded area and pamper.


 o
RE: gambled on a Pinus mugo 'Valley Cushion'

Thanks Echolane.

The reason I asked - I was out on the peninsula a couple of years ago, saw a few P. radiata brooms, and wondered if anyone there was propagating them.

As I recall, some of the pines were pushing new growth about this time of year.

Here is a broom, just off of Sand Hill road.
P. radiata (Monterey Pine)


 o
RE: gambled on a Pinus mugo 'Valley Cushion'

i have tried to cut those heavy large pots.. and usually ended up bleeding .. either sliced by the pot itself.. or the blade ...

the larger the pot.. the thicker it is.. and that plastic is tough ....

you are making too many excuses to be dainty with it .. run it over with the car [just the pot] ... and get it out of there ...

ken


 o
RE: gambled on a Pinus mugo 'Valley Cushion'

Okay, finally did rehab on my pine late this afternoon. First thing, we plunged it in a large tub of water, and the root zone bubbled for a very long time, obviously badly dried out. Then we pounded on the sides of the container and eventually it gave in to our tugging and slipped out of the container. The root ball was solid with circling roots, with no evidence of soil at all, so we cut and pried and pulled until we had a lot of loosened roots all around. Then soaked it again and repotted it in a commercial container mix.

Here are the photos; let me know whether you think it will survive.

First one: the root ball -

Next I hope you can see those shriveled up buds, some brown, others whitish

and here is the whole plant after repotting...


 o
RE: gambled on a Pinus mugo 'Valley Cushion'

Then we pounded on the sides of the container and eventually it gave in to our tugging and slipped out of the container.

==>>> thats what i like to hear.. tough love. lol ...

i hope you insured that the root/trunk interface was at soil level ....

and i wonder what you mean by 'commercial container mix' ... a mix specifically for trees.. or the common high in peat perennial/annual water-sopping peat mix????

and it looks like it is a bit low in the container ...

and once it flushes out.. and elongates.. most of the brown needles will be hidden ...

otherwise.. good work .. enjoy it.. quite a bargain ....

ken


 o
RE: gambled on a Pinus mugo 'Valley Cushion'

That's about what I expected, Echo. Heavily root-bound.
But perhaps not a total loss, judging by the green.

Ken, this tree will be in the Bay Area, so I don't think Summer heat will be a problem ;-)
We often refer to the Bay Area as the "Grey Area," for those not local to the region.

Secondly, I have the same question as Ken. What type of commercial potting soil?
I really hope that peat moss isn't the primary ingredient, though I suspect it is.
The last thing you need in San Fran is more moisture retention in your mix.
Aeration is key in containers, and peat moss works in direct opposition to that goal.

How much of the root-mass did you cut away?


Josh


 o
RE: gambled on a Pinus mugo 'Valley Cushion'

It's nice to see so much concern and help for my rescue project :-)

The potting soil I used was Gardener's Gold Organic Potting Soil, which according to their website is: "A rich, all natural blend of finely screened, composted fir bark fines, worm castings, real topsoil, redwood peat moss, chicken manure, and sand. pH balanced with dolomite and oyster shell limes. Rich in long-lasting plant nutrients. Water saving formula. Provides excellent drainage. Good for all indoor or outdoor container plants." I'm not sure what REDWOOD peat moss is, but it doesn't appear to be the major ingredient.

The top of the root ball is about an inch below the rim of the pot, and new soil is level with the old root ball; the canopy flops below the rim of the pot which makes it look low in the pot.

We cut roots only on the outer surface of the root ball and mostly so that we could let them unwind from their tight circles. I would've liked to be more drastic, but was too afraid to stress the plant more than I had to. When we were finished we had hundreds of loose roots radiating out in all directions so hopefully........


 o
RE: gambled on a Pinus mugo 'Valley Cushion'

"A rich, all natural blend of finely screened, composted fir bark fines, worm castings, real topsoil, redwood peat moss, chicken manure, and sand.

==
>>> repot it soon ...

all those things hold water.. which is great if this were an annual or perennial ..

as a tree.. it needs fast thorough drainage..

presuming you dont want to make your own.. i would suggest a bagged cactus mix

or... take what you bought.. and add 1/2 volume of mini chunks ... something very course for air and drainage ....

and i will follow with another link to big al ... the king of homemade stuff.. because there is a good discourse on what you should be doing/thinking about ...

heat is an issue when combined with drought ... aka improper watering .... so no matter how temperate the bay might be.. you can still end up with heat issues .... especially with a big black pot in sun ....

ken

Here is a link that might be useful: the stuff at high noon


 o
the discourse

the discourse

Here is a link that might be useful: the discourse


 o
RE: gambled on a Pinus mugo 'Valley Cushion'

Please do follow the link Ken posted.
Nearly everything I know about container soils and maintenance of container plantings
I learned from Al (Tapla). Even if you don't use the exact ingredients, if you follow the
principles put forth, you will be successful.


Josh


 o
RE: gambled on a Pinus mugo 'Valley Cushion'

Sluice, that's an incredible sight and right in my neighborhood. Sand Hill Road is one freeway exit north of mine off I80, though I live west not east of the freeway. Now I will have to start watching for brooms.

But its still way to early for the pines to start pushing their candles around here. My microclimate is cold in winter and variable in summer, mostly hotter at midday, but cooler in mornings and late afternoons/evenings than communities east of me, so my little pine will have afternoon shade this year.

Also what GREAT references on how to make up a container mix and why. Most importantly why. Thanks so much for that and I will definitely repot asap.


 o
RE: gambled on a Pinus mugo 'Valley Cushion'

.. then forget about 'hurting it' ... its an inanimate object.. it will not feel pain..

ken, you are the conifer whisperer... but inanimate? certainly trees have life... and possibly spirit ;)

Here is a link that might be useful: inanimate def.


 o
RE: gambled on a Pinus mugo 'Valley Cushion'

1
: not animate: a : not endowed with life or spirit b : lacking consciousness or power of motion

===>>> sorry to disagree.. but trees do not have a spirit ... nor a consciousness .. nor an independent power of motion ...

they remain inanimate.. no matter how you choose which words to pick from a definition ...

that is.. unless you prefer to use the druid/pagan-webster dictionary ... lol ...

===>>> there is a theory .. that a threat to a plant.. will cause it to release growth hormones .... in response to said threat .... so treating it roughly ... can actually be thought of as a plus .. [and in this case.. since OP was anticipating serious root surgery .. then i saw no reason to worry about beating it out of that pot it was in .... in my world.. it was more important.. to get the job done ASAP .... avoiding drying to the roots being most important... rather than doing 3 hours of TLC surgery.. and worrying.. etc ... the long soak prior.. and the fast repotting.. probably did more for the plant ... than 3 hours of micro surgery could have ever accomplished ...]

as compared to too much TLC.. which usually ends up hurting a plant ..

but the TLC is a function of your consciousness.. and your response ...

while the hormones release is totally lacking in a conscious decision ... and it is not a instinctive physiological reaction ... because an inanimate object... does not have an instinct

and i am not a green man .... check this link:

http://www.pantheon.org/articles/g/green_man.html

but we digress.. lol ...

ken

Here is a link that might be useful: link


 o
RE: gambled on a Pinus mugo 'Valley Cushion'

"Ken says: have tried to cut those heavy large pots.. and usually ended up bleeding .. either sliced by the pot itself.. or the blade ...

the larger the pot.. the thicker it is.. and that plastic is tough" ....

I use a small key hole saw. Make 3 cuts down the pot in equal increments. Pry sides down and lift out root bound cultivar. At the same time you will cut some of the root bound mass but that only makes it easier to separate for transplanting.

Survival for this one marginal. Stressed and declining in appearance because it was choking itself to death being root bound. In addition the added burden of root surgery, long over due may be to much for recovery. A wait and see. I would afford it some protection from afternoon sun. and watch it closely.

Good luck.

Dave


 o
RE: gambled on a Pinus mugo 'Valley Cushion'

Echolane,
The Valley Cushion looks pretty good considering how long it's been in the pot! I'm sure it will like it's new home very much, and I hope it has a full recovery!

I was looking at the map again. Here is a screen shot showing the location of that broom, along the Junipero Serra Hwy (northbound, just past Sand Hill) .
It looks like it's still living, and I'm sure you will spot it sometime soon!

Pinus radiata broom


 o
RE: gambled on a Pinus mugo 'Valley Cushion'

Seen that look many times and it's not favorable.

Dave


 o
RE: gambled on a Pinus mugo 'Valley Cushion'

ken, the term 'conifer whisperer' to me meant someone who possesses an extraordinary sense regarding plant interaction in a mutually favorable way...certainly not some horned pagan deity. i never questioned your advice on handling the rootbound plant ... but i do believe there is a profound difference in a rock garden, between the plants... and the rocks. ;)


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Conifers Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here