Killing Black Pines

Forum for discussion of Pines, Junipers, Cedar etc as bonsai.
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Re: Killing Black Pines

Post by KIRKY »

Even in Melbourne I don’t repot as late as September. We have been known to get sudden hot days into the mid 30s and day after day of hot drying winds. If I don’t get mine done by late July they have to wait until the following year.
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Re: Killing Black Pines

Post by shibui »

August/ September is my preferred repot window for pines. I generally leave them until after I have finished the deciduous trees. Even when the candles are elongating it appears to be OK to repot for me here.

I note the reference to part replacement of old mix with a new, very different mix. I have also seen problems when doing this and prefer to do amore thorough repot when required. Despite the current strong recommendations against radical repots I still get better results than partial repots, especially when the old mix is in poor condition.
I occasionally have pines that start to look sick. These are almost always trees that have not been repotted so the rootball is congested with roots and mycorrhiza which makes proper watering increasingly difficult. :imo: decline in summer is much more likely to be the result of not dehydration than root rot. Reducing water when symptoms are noticed only hastens demise in that case. A number of autopsies on deceased trees has revealed that trees I thought were being adequately watered were, in fact, bone dry in the centre of a compacted root ball. That includes a number of natives.
Yellowing foliage is almost always a lack of nutrients here and usually occurs in trees that are becoming root bound. Regular liquid feed can usually bring back better health until repotting can be done. More frequent repotting has proved better for my pines, especially younger, developing trees which grow roots profusely.
I strongly agree that a uniform mix makes for more consistent watering and care across species.
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Re: Killing Black Pines

Post by badabing888 »

Hi,

Thanks for that, i was about to pull one out today and looks like the colander broke on me so it had to repot which is good as i can see what it is really doing. Mix is the same as the one which died in a bonsai pot, same water schedule. this is about 3-4 years old has been in the colander for 2 years

50% akadama, 25 gravel, 25% bonsai mix
Screen Shot 2020-07-27 at 5.55.14 pm.png
Screen Shot 2020-07-27 at 5.55.36 pm.png
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Screen Shot 2020-07-27 at 6.12.37 pm.png
Screen Shot 2020-07-27 at 6.13.57 pm.png
after repot
Screen Shot 2020-07-27 at 6.14.36 pm.png

@ryceman3

I'm convinced the core issue is a root health issue in general. Likely if i can fix that the rest will fall into place. Your photo is what i want to see! You can see how healthy that is!

@Birchman
1 i repotted into a colander and that is the one a dog got too so that died on me just as it was beginning to push new buds. Tried everything to save it but with no luck.
The others i'm yet to repot those out the grow bags they are going along fine i water once a day unless really hot 40+ i will likely repot those next repotting season as im jaded this year after losing a few. LOL

In regards to where two mediums meet i have heard this before so water never fully penetrates the root ball, I guess the challenge comes when you trying to change mixes as you can't bare root black pines. In general i try keep the mix the same as per above but obviously that is not working for me for JBP's so i need to change something. Feel free to drop me a photo i'm interested to see how they are coming along.

@shibu
shibui wrote: July 20th, 2020, 10:23 pm
decline in summer is much more likely to be the result of not dehydration than root rot. Reducing water when symptoms are noticed only hastens demise in that case. A number of autopsies on deceased trees has revealed that trees I thought were being adequately watered were, in fact, bone dry in the centre of a compacted root ball. That includes a number of natives.
I might be misreading this but your saying in summer root rot is less likely? and is likely in winter etc?
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Re: Killing Black Pines

Post by shibui »

It is possible to induce root rot at any time of year but you have to try really hard in summer because the mix naturally dries out more regularly.
With the advent of open mixes with no topsoil or clay in the mix trees die far more often from drying out than from overwatering but people still make a big thing about root rot so many deaths are mis diagnosed :imo:
Pines like to be on the dry side but there is a limit to how dry they can manage and still stay healthy.
In winter when the mix does not dry out so quick and growers continue to water even a good mix can be too wet. Coupled with cold and low sun that can allow root rotting fungi to take over.
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Re: Killing Black Pines

Post by Ryceman3 »

The pics you posted @badabing888 for a tree in a colander for 2 years (assuming the colander was the correct size, yada yada) show a pretty underwhelming volume of healthy roots. I would expect the colander to be full ... or close to it. They just don't seem that healthy. Why is the million dollar question. Like I have said before, I have no idea but I read your posts and those of others and use them to think of stuff that might be contributing.
This is where I am at right now.
You have trees that don't seem to develop roots. You had a sick tree that you took to a local bonsai guy, who did a repot with minimal root disturbance but into fresh mix that seemed to improve under his care at his nursery. From what I can see, your original mix doesn't look particularly poor for growing pines in (visually anyway). You mention yellowing needles on a tree that went on to die.
Thinking about all of this, could there be some kind of pH issue??? Possibly with water I guess, but I am thinking more soil related? I'm no horticulturalist so I won't give you a speech that I can't back up with facts, but my vague knowledge on the subject has me believing that pH values can affect the growth of roots in potted environments (which could explain the lack of healthy root growth you get) and also the yellowing needles as there can be issues with the uptake of nutrients when pH is too far from neutral. Different nutrients deopending on whether the mix is acid or basic. This may also help to explain that while your mix looks OK, it isn't performing ... and maybe the change of mix when repotted at the bonsai nursery could then explain an improvement in that tree... different pH value?
Just to reiterate, this is an idea to consider rather than a solution. Easy enough to test pH levels (both for soil and water if needed) so thought it might be worth a bit of investigation maybe?
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Re: Killing Black Pines

Post by badabing888 »

I was waiting to get a soil testing kit before posting back.

The old mix seems to be PH of roughly 6-6.5 ? going by the photo.
Screen Shot 2020-09-09 at 5.27.03 pm.png
The Pumice, Lava, Pine mix that i repotted has started to grow roots through the bottom, in the old colander also is starting to see some root growth.
I guess the proof will be over the coming summer. I haven't been watering a lot approx 1-2 times a week as its been raining enough in the last month or so.

New mix
Screen Shot 2020-09-09 at 5.26.40 pm.png
Old mix
Screen Shot 2020-09-09 at 5.29.07 pm.png
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Ryceman3
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Re: Killing Black Pines

Post by Ryceman3 »

badabing888 wrote: September 9th, 2020, 7:29 pm I was waiting to get a soil testing kit before posting back.

The old mix seems to be PH of roughly 6-6.5 ? going by the photo.
I'd agree that test result looks close enough to neutral so I guess that is one thing off the list!!?!
badabing888 wrote: September 9th, 2020, 7:29 pm The Pumice, Lava, Pine mix that i repotted has started to grow roots through the bottom, in the old colander also is starting to see some root growth.
I guess the proof will be over the coming summer. I haven't been watering a lot approx 1-2 times a week as its been raining enough in the last month or
I would say that is a pretty positive response ... do you know how this compares to previous years (have you seen root growth this time last year?).
As you say, time will tell from here - but at least you have something to keep you interested. If you have some michorrizal fungi (or know somebody that does) it might be an idea to innoculate your mix if you haven't thought to do it already. Pines have a pretty coarse root system so although it may not be absolutely vital I think michorrizal activity is definitely worth pursuing with them if you can.
Good luck with them!
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Re: Killing Black Pines

Post by treeman »

badabing888 wrote: September 9th, 2020, 7:29 pm I was waiting to get a soil testing kit before posting back.

The old mix seems to be PH of roughly 6-6.5 ? going by the photo.

Screen Shot 2020-09-09 at 5.27.03 pm.png

The Pumice, Lava, Pine mix that i repotted has started to grow roots through the bottom, in the old colander also is starting to see some root growth.
I guess the proof will be over the coming summer. I haven't been watering a lot approx 1-2 times a week as its been raining enough in the last month or so.

New mix

Screen Shot 2020-09-09 at 5.26.40 pm.png

Old mix

Screen Shot 2020-09-09 at 5.29.07 pm.png
The pH of the mix there is a bit too high. Almost all pines prefer acidic substrates. 5.5 - 6 is optimum. The reaction should be in the light green to yellow range.
Why are you using a colander? You should plant young pines in small pots until they have a strong root system. Not plant in a big pot and hope one develops. I've never bothered with colanders. They are a bit of a wank.(IMO) The reason you are losing your pines is that 1/ The pot is too big and does not dry out fast enough, (doesn't heat up either) 2/ The mix looks crappy. Forget the clay. Try using sifted potting mix and sifted gravel/sand (quartz) Don't use gravel with limestone in it! (check) About 3 to 7 mm particles. 3/ the pH is too high. Check the ingredients seperately. If your bagged potting mix is higher that pH 6. Take it back and get a different brand. In WA you may be able to find course Marri and Jarra bark. I've read good things!
The pot should give the root ball about 30mm of room all around - no more. Use shallow orchid pots. Terracotta is also very good. The root ball should take up a good part of the volume of the pot. Don't prune the roots much. Wait until they are strong. Find some mychorrizae and incorporate some of it into the mix before potting up. Water once then let them dry out before the next watering. Stake them so they don't move. That's important! Keep them in full sun until it's really hot.
If you do these things you will not lose any more pines.

PS .. I forgot to mention...No feeding! Especially liquids.
Mike
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Re: Killing Black Pines

Post by badabing888 »

Hi All,

I thought i'd give an update a year later so i can keep my own record aswell somewhere.
It's been a really wet winter here so they went quite light green but are slowly colouring up as i start to feed in spring.

Haven't loss one in the last year so that's some positive news!

Thanks for the advice @treeman
I used a colander more as a experiment and also i wanted to be able to see the roots are they good or bad i have no idea really.
Those in those colander were planted a few years ago and was the only size i could really get or i would have used smaller ones.
Interesting on the pH level i didn't know and i'll keep this in mind and do some additional testing.

Now for anything im using a 1:1:1 mix (1 part pumice, 1 part Red lava, 1 part Akadama) more because this is really free draining and can almost not over water in summer.

I also had a chat about water schemes here in WA and it seems i'm actually under watering both frequency and depth between Dec - March when its really hot 35-40 degrees most days.
Most people with free draining mixes seem to water 2 x a day so i totally changed how i watered.

Perhaps in my head dry feet = dryish
I can see how if its getting too dry over summer it compromises the fine white / alive roots then during other works later in the season the root system is unable to cope with pushing new buds etc.

1 watering at 7am and really soak the pot more then i ever did before
2nd watering at around 3pm where i water it deeply again this way by evening the remaining water in the soil is not sitting stagnant.

All trees are kept in full sun all day long but on those 40+ days i get them some protection.

Thoughts from any one in WA or anyone in a similar climate?
@treeman ?


Outside of that here is what some of them look like now,

I repotted 2 of my larger ones last year with the help of a local bonsai artist here interestingly into terracotta pots from a grow bags ensuring to make it a nice tight fit and slowly transitioning it to the above mix. Nice white roots but we removed all the thick root growth that hadn't been touched for years.
Screen Shot 2021-10-26 at 4.10.01 pm.png
Screen Shot 2021-10-26 at 4.09.45 pm.png
Screen Shot 2021-10-26 at 3.53.46 pm.png
Screen Shot 2021-10-26 at 3.53.36 pm.png
They recovered well over summer.
Screen Shot 2021-10-26 at 3.53.27 pm.png
Screen Shot 2021-10-26 at 3.53.10 pm.png
Screen Shot 2021-10-26 at 4.10.10 pm.png
This is them this year.

Lots of heavy growth in the young ones.

Screen Shot 2021-10-26 at 3.54.28 pm.png
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And all have fine roots coming through
Screen Shot 2021-10-26 at 3.59.40 pm.png

On the right track i have no idea? :fc: hopefully im going in the right direction?
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