Scots Pine Needle Size (Watering Difficulties)

No not mine but I have seen two almost dead pines during the last month and wanted to clear up a myth regarding watering of pines.

My own small Scots Pine is building up a nice framework of branching this previous three years.  Come the Autumn I will thin the tree out by around 40-50% to enable me to shape further. Minor pruning can be carried out now, but do ensure you seal cuts. For now the appropriate feeding and watering regime with a position of full sun all day, has given me quality sized needles.

Yes, the tree is rotated, but does indeed sit in sun all day long. Watering is generally twice daily at the moment, as the gorgeous weather we are having .. and owed some; is ensuring most of my trees dry out quite quickly. And it really was this watering I wanted to mention.

I’ve seen two pines during the last fortnight, one a Scots, and the other a Mugo. The latter is still hanging in there, but the Scots seems to be on the last legs. My first question was about watering, and in both cases it had been left to nature to provide water! There seems to be a significant myth about, that suggests Pines are watered very infrequently to ensure small needles and insignificant growth. This is complete ‘Hogwash’ and I’ll gladly argue the point with anyone. Yes, during winter if the pine /s are under cover then watering from mid to late October (Northern Hemisphere) should be kept to an absolute minimum until the first signs of growth the following year are seen; and that in both ends of the season it is weather dependant, so it is not a ‘complete rule of thumb so be careful. Kept outside you could and should be looking to limit rain water, as roots will rot if they sit in water. Just because you have free-draining soil it does not mean water will dissipate quickly; the roots themselves will create a dense rootball with Mycelium and soggy soil you have a wonderful base for potential root rot.

Usually about mid Spring through Summer the Pine will do what it has been waiting to do, and that is grow. By withholding water to keep needles short – is hugely detrimental to the pine, and will quickly see it flounder and probably die in part or full during warm weather. Watering two weekly this time of year is NOT enough. I’m watering my large pine daily and the smaller one at least twice daily. The heat build up inside that pot is hot indeed, and it is not unusual to find that just inside the pot it is at least 40c; clearly it needs cooling so you may prefer to put the pine in dappled shade during very warm bright sunny days. I do try to stand the watering cans full up in a dappled area to gently warm the water through; NOT HOT, just take that cold off. I personally have thought if I find it a shock someone pouring cold water over me right now, then the plants also may find it a shock. Not easy I know when you have many many trees.

So please please please … DO water your pines right now, they WON’T stand being  dry as a chip for anything like as long as you think they will.

My small Scots with a happy look in a John Pitt pot. 70cm in height. Dwarf variety of Scots Pine.

Scotty 15:07:13

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6 thoughts on “Scots Pine Needle Size (Watering Difficulties)

  1. I’ve taken note of yours and others advice on here and EBF and wouldn’t fall into this trap, but sound advice for others. Your tall Scots is looking superb at the moment Mike – very healthy thank you. I have it on a turntable base in the garden and sit and ponder style options (with a nice cold glass of something!) on these sunny evenings. Most relaxing!

  2. Well said that man!!! My Pine bonsai sit in full sun too but the pots are somewhat shaded during the more intense heat of the day. One,maybe two waterings a day and a thorough drenching. Wetter than an Otters pocket and the needles are a good length too

    • Thank you Will; I see this so many times in the growing season letting them dry out for weeks on end, and expecting them to survive. I suppose the common one I hear is … “well you don’t water pines in the wild and they survive!” Indeed they do, indeed they do; of course nothing to do with the fact that in nature roots can basically go where they want and even when grown from rock seams the root is still sheltered and still capable of finding moisture. Must do a thing on pines properly one of these days.

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