white pine dying

Asked April 25, 2016, 3:13 PM EDT

have a 6 foot columar white pine planted spring 2014. Spring 2015 notice needles on east side turning brown. browning of needles has increased so the entire east side of tree is browned and needles are falling off. the top 6-8 inches of tree has been green, including east side the entire time. now the rest of the tree is starting to looking dismal as well,like perhaps 2016 winter kill or dyhydration, except the very top.

whats problem 2015 winter kill ? does it not like the clay subsoil.? I dug a huge hole down about 10 inches deep thru the top soil and then into solid red clay the rest of the way, removed 15-20 gallons of dirt, when I planted the 5 gal potted tree. amended the soil below and around tree with spagnum moss and topsoil mixed together with root stimulant added. no red clay was added back into the hole. watered extensively the first year but not so much last year. perhaps I should have watered more, since last summer was somewhat dry for spells. its still alive but looks like crap. any ideas? do you think it will come back and put forth new growth in the dead brown area? should i fertilize it?

Fond du Lac County Wisconsin

1 Response

My guess is that your soil is the problem. A columnar white pine needs a well-drained soil like a sand or loam. They do not grow well and often die when planted in clay soils. The tree also has a low tolerance for drought. While the tree may have done well initially because of the soil you provided within the hole, it was unable to expand its root system sufficiently into the surrounding clay soil. The tree will not grow new needles in the brown areas and is unlikely to respond to any treatments at this point.