Larch (Larix laricina): Something I should worry about?

Hey, I am finding the needles in my Larix somewhat unusual. Perhaps missing a bit of turgidity and in parts some lighter colour (I am only now starting to fertilize). but I think I am keeping a good balance of water and oxygen. The tree was repotted with minimal disturbance to the roots about a month ago prior to or just about when buds were starting to open. This was part of a slab forest planting where all other trees died. It had a problem with ants last summer but I managed to take care of it. I didn’t see any signs of aphids in the roots when I repotted this spring. The tree is still in the greenhouse and I will remove the foliage growing downwards once I start to acclimatize the tree to outdoors in about two weeks. What does the Mirai hive think?

Course its all so hard to tell from just a wee photo but, considering all your detailed factors, I would say it is producing ebullient growth… due to: repotting, hi-protection and as a reaction from last years situation. Ebullient larch growth is when buds open and extend large and hairy, floppy, soft, and often pale and procumbent. They are more vulnerable to wind, frost and dryness than optimal larch bonsai growth, which is tighter, smaller, more deeply green or bluish green, restrained and lovely. There is no doubt a lot of fertility and energy driving this condition also there is probably root lose from last years maladies and from recent repotting, in my experience this kind of causes larches to over compensate with this response, probably due to the root growth. My advice is to hold back on fertilizer until after it hardens and do so with restraint only once then. focus on fall preparation fertilization primarily. It won’t need much fertilizer to be happy. Work to develop a healthy dense root system then it will settle down and act like a bonsai. Try not to over protect American larch, especially as they bud out. The floppy growth will change character as it gets out of the green house and starts to sort itself out. Check with local bonzo people–Canadians are amazing larch growers.


Thank you @crust for such an enlightening response!

I’ve been advised by local experts here in Quebec that it may be due to too much water after repotting before the needles are fully developed.

Ahh yes, sometimes in the ongoing spring rains larch can get hairy like this but if you keep them tight and manage the fertilizer well they can be kept more dwarf

@rafi I’m wondering if (over)protecting it in the greenhouse is playing a role? I’m south of you in upstate New York and my larches haven’t popped there buds yet even. Just an observation.

I wouldn’t imagine so, it had nearly 3 months between 1C and 7C which should be more than enough. If it were outside it would still be frozen here. I wanted to keep it in the greenhouse this winter because of the problems it had last year and because I wanted to repot it earlier this year so it has a longer growing season to recover. I think the verdict is that it is due to over watering and a normal mechanism for a tree that was stressed and it it should recover.

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Hey rafi, did this guy ever recover? Did it lose all its needles and then bud back? I have one in similar condition that I’m worried about.

Hey @A.Cole411, So that Larix recovered to the extent that the leafs turned dark green and it is growing well, I pruned the second growth that came along after it went outdoors and now there’s a third set of buds that are starting to elongate. However the foliage is still disheveled and messy. For comparison see this other yamadori (both are but the first one I don’t know where was it collected) that is in this pot probably since collection two years ago, it has much smaller growth. I hope that the first one gets to get such attractive foliage once it’s root system get to really occupy the container as the second one probably has…

and here is the second one for comparison with respect to leaf size (it didn’t have any issues as the first one). Both pictures are from this morning.

Hope this helps. My suggestion is to keep the BWO and depending where you’re (if you don’t really have a summer dormancy period) keep fertilizing. If it doesn’t recover prior to loosing the leafs, I’d also suggest to arrange for winter storage between 1C and 7C (35-45F) - but I’d be glad if others comment on my suggestions as I am by no means sufficiently experienced.

Thanks so much for the update! I’m not sure what BWO means?

Mine basically scorched in the sun and lost all its needles… I didn’t even miss watering, it just burned up. I moved it to a shadier spot, and I’m hoping it pops some latent buds, but I’m not holding out hope…

That’s a gnarly yamadori! I really dig it.

Thanks, again, for your reply!

Hey @A.Cole411, I am sorry to hear about your larch. It is weird though, as I understand Larch like full sun. Even mine that had leafed indoors in the cold frame didn’t burn the leafs after it went outdoors (it stayed 10 days in the shade prior to full sun). Sorry about BWO, I just invented the term: Balance of Water and Oxygen. It is so long and so often used that I figure we ought to have an acronym. @ryan, what do you think?

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Ahh, that makes sense.

I think it may have been the heat more than the sun, actually. The sun didn’t help, though.

It’s been above 90 here for quite a number of days. I’m really hoping keeping it cooler, and in some shade, will make it pop some latent buds. Have you ever seen that happen?

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Here in western NY (Rochester area), I can generally leave my larches in full sun most of the time. The big exception is for trees that were repotted in the spring, they seem more sensitive to heat/sun. I had 3 that were repotted this spring and seemed to be doing fine, but when the really hot weather hit at the end of June I got some burn on them. So they were moved to a mostly shaded area. Two other larches that were not repotted this year are still in a nearly full sun location and haven’t had any problems.

A.Cole411, where are you located?

A few years ago I had a larch that I repotted and then put out into too much sun too soon. It responded by dropping almost all of its foliage and I lost most of the branching that had been developed over a number of years. It did eventually re-bud from the bases of some branches and from the trunk, but now I’ve had to rebuild almost everything. Lesson learned.


I have seen back budding from old bark in larches as in the picture below. But I haven’t seen a larch being defoliated and bud like a deciduous. It will be interesting to see if your does. Let us know.

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That’s super good to know about. Thanks, Chris. I’m in NYC, and the tree was actually purchased in Rochester :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

And the tree was repotted this year, according to the woman I bought it from in May.

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Was it in leaf already? Seems a bit late if the buds had opened already…

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It was in leaf when I bought it, yeah. But as far as I know, she repotted at the proper time.

Based on the other trees in her booth, I have to presume she knows what she’s doing.

I think this little guy just got scorched from too much heat. Didn’t matter that I was watering adequately. I’m just hoping that pulling it into a cooler, shadier position will allow it to pop some buds. I’d hate to lose it, but it also seems like larch may not be a practical option for me, given our summer heat.

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Let us know if it recovers. Also if you can post pictures, it will help us learn more from your experience, especially if it survives…

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Unfortunately, she didn’t make it. Scratch test shows that it’s over. Hugely disappointing. I lost all theee larches I’d bought this year.

Sorry to see that. Did you buy the trees from different places? Do you know if they were all repotted this spring?

It may be that your environment (sunny/balcony in NYC, right?) is not suitable for larches, unless maybe you can rig up some kind of shade cloth.