White pine “rescue”

A friend asked me to take over this white pine’s recovery back in March. It was given a death sentence at a master’s workshop last year, because it has a large wound on the trunk that bled profusely. My friend managed to stop the bleeding with cut paste, and stabilize the tree, but didn’t have enough sun in the yard to kick start the recovery.

When I received the tree, it had been slip-potted into this white crate, loosely wired in, and packed with mulch. For a white pine that needs to be pumped up, we need a different course of action. It needs to be immobilized in a freely-draining coarse soil that can dry quickly after watering.

So what to do with a weak tree at repotting time? Start over, assertively, and quickly. When I got it to my garden in early March, I removed it from the mucky soil, worked it loose, bare-rooted one side, and removed a rotted root.


Then it was wired very securely into a sturdy ceramic pot, to prevent movement:

And good, fast-draining soil was worked carefully into the roots. When bare-rooting one side, I try to really work aggregate into the side that still has muddy soil.

Watered well, topped with some fertilizer cakes, and set in good full sun. Buds were swelling, and I think if I can get those buds to open quickly and start feeding the roots, it has a good chance to make it.

A few weeks later in early April, the candles are pushing.

By late April, they’re coming right along. The purple color of the pollen cones is vibrant!


Mid May, and the new candles are opening:

Mid-June, and it’s starting to bud back. It’s being fed heavily with cakes and twice-weekly fish emulsion.



Mid-July, and the new needles are hardening off, as 2-year-old needles begin to yellow.

And by mid-September, I think it’s safe to say it’s made it. Notice the sabamiki on the trunk? We’ll talk about that next week.

An important note on white pine; they need to stay on the dry side. It is easy to over water them, which will lead to problems. The white pines in my garden are in coarse aggregate; lava, river rock, and akadama, 1:1:1, and are watered once every 3-4 days on average during the summer. Contrast this with the black pines that are sited the same, and watered daily. I do mist the foliage and soil surface each day. Many of the pros jest that the proper watering of a white pine is to spray water in its general direction and move on!


9 thoughts on “White pine “rescue”

  1. Nice work! This isn’t a graft, right? Also, interesting pot, similar to the spruce? Same maker perhaps or maybe my memory is confusing things.

  2. Great post. I think I was going in the wrong direction of care. We get a lot of winter heavy rain in the northwest. I will put it in a dry spot for winter

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Very interesting Doctor, I mean Brian. I am still working on just keeping trees alive and you are making them revive!

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