Thread: I conducted an experiment, and it was successful.. but.. HELP!!

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Northern Minnesota-zone 3

    I conducted an experiment, and it was successful.. but.. HELP!!

    The only mature tree on our property is a "wolf" Jack Pine (a shorter, open growing jack pine rather than the tall, slender ones that grow in dense stands), and it produces very large crops of cones every year that open in the heat of direct sun. One just matured cone opened and I shook a few seeds out of it and planted them in a pot of native soil (read: beach quality sand with a few nutrients in it)... I kept it watered and in partial shade inside and one of the seeds germinated...

    Right now the little seed kernel is on top with a little green shoot going downward into the soil (i'm not sure how far)... but I'm very new to this... in fact, this is the first tree I've ever started.

    Jack pine seeds can germinate at this time of year, but I'm afraid my little guy won't survive the winter... I was thinking of surrounding the seedling with some leaf matter and burying the pot outside int he soil with a screen to keep the wind off of it. Will this be sufficient or should I just kiss it goodbye and try again in the spring?

    I'm also going to try a few acorns and some green ash... Alex.. maybe you have some general advice (I know you probably don't grow Jack Pines)???

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Central Oklahoma - Zone 7 for now

    RE: I conducted an experiment, and it was successful.. but.. HELP!!

    Yep -sure do Late start, but doable, I bet. And congrats! Almost feel like a monster has awakened. Bet you do more seeds pretty soon

    First, get it out of the sand (!!!) and the sooner the better. You need to get it into some very airy, loose soil and pot it up like 'regular'. Not a huge pot by any means, too-big is real bad and lets roots rot much easier -> regular ol' flower pot is fine right now. Give it usual growing conditions (full sun after acclimation??) Don't know Jack (pines, that is) - had to say that, hehe...

    It may or may not make it, but if you 'baby it' through the winter, and let it do what it wants for now...odds aren't real bad, IMO. Objective is to let *roots* grow as much as possible, and then protect them as winter passes. Don't let it get out of dormancy, nor let the roots get very cold. No harsh winds, etc...follow me there? It has to 'mature' enough before it gets into a proper dormancy, or it'll fail to wake up, as you likely know. And bringing it indoors for more than a few hours is a no-no, again as you likely know.

    Soil is important here - *very* loose and airy soil-mix (nothing that retains much water) and the roots wil go crazy with growth. NEVER use just sand or anything that comes in a bag from Wal-Mart or such...its real bad, trust me on this one. I regularly use varying proportions of perlite, bark mulch, shredded sphagnum, pebbles - that kinda stuff and the trees *love* it.. I won't 'lecture' about soil-mixes, but a lot has been learned last few+ years or so, and things are *much* better for potted trees. Make soil-mix loose enough that water runs right through, and no peat in there. Water it several times each time it needs to be wetted - stays moist in pot longer than you might think. If you like, I can give you some links that tell more about the soil-mixing - bet you'd have an interest in that aspect I am even using a certain type of *really* cheap kitty litter mixed with bark mulch and pine 'shavings' (horse bedding is on label, leftover from raising guinea hens recently, fwiw). The elms and loblolly in that soil mix are acting like they're on steroids and filling pots with roots *much* faster than last years less-airy mix allowed. Definitely works! Even foam packing-peanuts are good for this, LOL. Be imaginative, just *do not* use clay-based potting soil. I repeat myself as some folks are old-timers and never walk away from that junk...but they really should.

    Avoid darker pots if sun is strong/direct, but not sure of your climate. *My* darker pots get heat-soaked badly when in sun, so I avoid 'em as I can and I feel it makes a signif difference.

    Careful getting it out of the sand as roots can be brittle, of course. Some loving care with the potting and all should be well. When freezes are upon you, its OK to bury the pot in mulch (cold-frame per se) or somewhere where its not going to get below say 10F or so. Again, I do not know Jacks' root-kill temp, but other pines are around there, so...take a guess and be safe Its root-freeze that kills most winter potted stuff, fwiw, and if the pine *does* keep growing through the Fall, then all should be fine come Spring when you let it wake up.

    But right now, get it outta that sand, bud! Numerous reasons, and I would be happy to explain it all - but potted trees are really easy once you respect the *roots*. Its kinda the opposite of taking care of in-ground trees where roots are of no focal concern. In a pot/bonsai, they are totally dependent on you to keep 'em happy. And once you get one started off, it'll be lonely and yell at you every time you walk by to get 'em a companion to talk with through the long winter. I have a friggin' neighborhood of 'tree-friends' clones/seedlings on my porch,'ll happen to *you* too, I bet........

    And one more thing - many folks are too 'nice' to the trees and keep them shaded, overwatered, etc... Avoid babying it if you want a 'tough' tree that will hold its own with MaNature... It may be feasible to wash off the sand with gentle waterflow, or put the 'sandball' into soil-mix and it will wash out on its own eventually, I bet. But sand packs tightly around roots and allows no air to the roots. Aerobic roots are good, anaerobic=bad...make sense? I'll PM you some links on soil-mixing for a potted tree if you care to do some reading on the subject (will change your whole way of doing pots, I bet)


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Northern Minnesota-zone 3

    RE: I conducted an experiment, and it was successful.. but.. HELP!!

    Thanks for the info.

    I don't know that I will take them out of the sand.. but I should clarify:

    It's not actually just sand. It's a sandy soil with organic components as it is "top soil".. it is already quite loose and extremely well drained, but does have nutrients in it. Jack Pines thrive on sandy soil and are aggressive root growers.

    They continue to grow roots until the soil reaches 40*F, which is usually in later October, so these little seedlings still have 2.5 months to go before they shut down for the winter.

    I was spraying the soil with a spray bottle until germination, but now I am watering about once every 4-5 days. I can't stress enough how well drained our soil is. I left the hose on our recently planted cottonwood yesterday for 4 hours (by accident) at a heavy trickle and the water didn't leave the basin around the tree. The water was about 2 inches deep inside the basin, but was completely drained into the soil within 15 seconds after I removed hte hose.

    I'll probably put a little leaf litter around the seedlings and dig the pot into the ground in our annual flower bed here pretty soon where it will get 5-6 hours of sun per day and will be sheltered heavily from wind. Also, its proximity to the house will keep the most extreme temperatures away from it. If they survive, I'll transplant the seedlings into a temporary sheltered location next spring and let them grow a full growing season before putting htem somewhere more permanent.

    Jack Pines aren't the prettiest trees... but while other trees whither and die in a drought year, Jack Pines would prefer a dust bowl.

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