pine tree turning brown in various areas

Asked July 11, 2017, 3:57 PM EDT

My 6 ft. tall eastern white pine tree is turning brown in various areas. It was planted this spring on a slope in mostly clay soil. We give it 2 gallons of water twice a week. The tree receives several hours of sun on its western and southern sides. Then it is shaded by the taller trees around it. Part of a branch on the west side is brown and a whole branch near the top on the south side is brown. The browning began not more than two weeks ago. I water from the north side (uphill) and have not been checking the south side of the tree. There is some white "stuff" on the trunk as well. The symptoms of this tree look different from the white pine weevil damage that occurred on the other side of my house. What is happening and what can I do?

Howard County Maryland

2 Responses

Usually when a plant declines within the first year of planting or less it can be attributed to an abiotic issue (site conditions, environmental, poor plant material, planting too deeply, etc.) not a disease or insect. See our publication on these types of problems

You may want to look at our website for information on the planting process and care and maintenance after planting. New plants - Check soil moisture of newly planted trees and shrubs at least once a week. Soil that is moist or damp to the touch is fine.

Pine trees grow best in full sun. They will not be full and grow slowly in shade. This does not sound like a good location and the pine tree does not look like it is in good health. It also looks like it may have been planted too deeply. You should be able to see the flare at the base of the trunk where it joins the root system.
The white material on the trunk looks like old sap due to past damage or stress. There is no control.

If you have a guarantee we recommend that you replant and select another species of tree for the site conditions. If you decide to keep it, all you can do is check the soil moisture, make sure mulch is no more than several inches and away from the base of the trunk. If the tree is planted too deeply, the tree will limp along but may never be healthy.

Thank you, MH.