Thread: Mugo Pine question again and Clump River Birch pruning question

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  1. #1

    Mugo Pine question again and Clump River Birch pruning question

    I wrote about a month ago about 2 mugo pines I have. They suddenly lost their needles and turned brown after a few years of looking so healthy. I didn't see anything obvious on them and the surrounding shrubs are fine. I left them alone since they had a few new green shoots and when I scratched the bark, I saw green. Well, since then, the shoots have died and I see brown which I scratch. Is there no hope left?????

    We also have 3 Clump River Birch trees in the backyard which were planted last fall. They were late to bloom but came in beautifully except for some little "galls" - I posted once before about these little balls. They seem to have not harmed the trees. Anyway, how do I pruned the lower branches to expose the pretty bark? I really didn't want to touch them except for a few warward branches until they got established. When do I do it? How do I cut so close to the trunk without damaging the tree?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Oak
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Central Oklahoma - Zone 7 for now
    Posts
    548

    RE: Mugo Pine question again and Clump River Birch pruning question

    I have never dealt with birch myself, so not 'experienced' there. I can say that lower branches, especially in first year or two are good to leave on the tree for growth and such. The extra foliage there will give plant more energy to grow even more when tree picks a 'leader' to focus upon. After a full season or two, then the loss of lower branches are much less significant overall. You probably would not really harm tree by cutting off low foliage/branchings, but it does slow down establishment of the tree overall I am not sure if you want to be cutting it *now* anyways, usually Spring is best, but I don't know 'birch'. Others here do, however, so hang tight...

    The mugo's are 'toast' - sorry Where are you? (Zone and or State, etc, please). It would be very interesting to see if the roots on them are any 'good' and if anything was disturbing them without your noticing (moles?). Did you ever cut it back or do *anything* to it other than simple watering? Fertilizing? I really have no idea without a pic or idea of the soil there. Mugos are *very* sensitive to pruning and root-disturbances, espcially in the same year, or done on back-to-back seasons, but not sure if you did anything like that (?).

    Wish I had a better idea to help ya out...sorry.
    Alex

  3. #3

    Answers

    Thanks for your input re: River Birch. I'll leave them alone until at least next Spring.

    I'm in NJ. I never did anything to the Mugos. No pruning whatsoever. Just a few mos. ago my BIL commented on how healthy and beautiful my pines are...so much for that. I haven't seen anything else disturbed and no sign of moles. Just after a month, browning and then loss of needles. Very strange...

  4. #4
    Oak
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Northern Minnesota-zone 3
    Posts
    300

    RE: Mugo Pine question again and Clump River Birch pruning question

    Well, you guys had a very warm growing season coupled with dry weather which could have made a huge difference. According to NOAA, it was New Jersey's 7th warmest May-Sept. on period and the 17th driest.. so not the worst at face value, but probably one of the worst when you factor in the combination of the heat and dryness.

    Unfortunately, Mugo pines are not all that heat tolerant. They grow on the mountain tops of the Alps where high winds keep taller trees from growing and so they can handle the cold, but generally like moist conditions.. as mountain tops tend to be quite wet.

    You might try again.. it's unfortunate, but Mugos are great species.. just make sure you have them within hose distance so you can give them a good drink.

    Checking soil moisture is absolutely necessary. Even if the weather doesn't seem all that warm or dry, it could be much worse than you think. Sometimes we humans have a tendency of selective thinking and we don't think about how the weather really is changing.

  5. #5
    Oak
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Central Oklahoma - Zone 7 for now
    Posts
    548

    RE: Mugo Pine question again and Clump River Birch pruning question

    Mugos *hate* having their feet in steadily more-moist soil, like anything similar to regular ol' potting soil - definitely know *that* part. I do not know what the soil is like where it sits, and forget if I already asked - is it 'thick'/clayish and heavily water-retentive? They prefer very gritty, really fast-draining soil, and other soils will doom a mugo. If they ha a choice, they'd root in rock's cracks that were wetted often by heavy dews or almost-daily rains and such, and have gritty sandy stuff laying across the fine roots as only protection. What you would find 'up on the mountain' usually anyways... make sense?

    Is there a significant difference in where it is planted? If so, that is likely a 'root cause' (no pun meant) of the demise, IMO.

    My two in-ground (dwf) mugos took record-heat (and cold, too) in OK two years in a row , and had fantastic growth/candles, so heat isn't much of an issue for NJ, I would think, and mugos do OK with drier soils overall, though not preferable. Again, soggyish soils are a sure way to fail with a mugo I made sure to amend my planting area pretty heavily with crushed-lava pieces, big-grit sand, and lots of pine-bark mulch - pretty deep hole, too, for such small trees, LOL. Made sure to allow for sub-soil runoff so there was no pooling down below; seemed to work anyways as *they* never floated away, LOL.

    Alex

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