To water or not to water?

OK, I have looked at all the information and videos on watering, soil drainage etc. but I am still confused, not surprising:) It has to do with conifers, e.g. white & scots pine, deodora cedara, etc. I have some pictures to add, but the jist of it is, I am not sure if I am water to much or if there is something else going on. I was under the impression that yellowing of the needle tips was an indicator of too much watering, yet my watering pattern is the same for some of my trees ie: Scots Pine as it is for ones that seem to show signs of yellowing. So I have cut back watering on the affected trees to every other day. So I have a couple of questions, first, is yellowing a sign of too much watering or could it be something else e.g. lack of iron? Second, what is a good rule of thumb for watering pines? Third, how long would results show that water frequency is right ie, yellowing of tips goes away? Any help is greatly appreciated. PS: my water is run through a water purifier so most of the local impurities are taken out.

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How much you water depends on several factors and will vary from season to season, week to week, day to day.
My biggest take away from Ryan’s teaching on watering is that you need to be sensitive to the conditions of each tree. Watering on a schedule will likely result in either over or under watering as the specific conditions for each tree are not being taken into account.

For example I have several trees in solid pumice. These trees need water every day right now, sometimes 2x/day. In fact, over watering would probably be next to impossible. The water drains so quickly that after one minute the water has drained and pulled air down into the substrate.
Conversely I have a few trees I just acquired from a nursery in poorly draining soil. These I water as needed. Sometimes giving them several days to dry out. I look at the soil, feel the soil, think about when they last received water and how hot it has been, and when I might have another opportunity to give them water. If I’m still unsure I can feel how heavy the container is. Sometimes I’m surprised at how heavy or light the container is and this helps guide my decision to water or not.

I realize this is probably not the answer you were looking for. Accurate watering takes attention to fine details.

As for signs of over watering I am less knowledgeable. Perhaps others can chime in.


earlier this year, when we had a nice sunny spell in April, i had yellowing tips on both a scots pine and 2 mugos, so I increasing my watering, and they regained a healthy green colour.
The mugos were still in the nursery soil (a very slow draining almost clay), yet they still needed more water.
My point is (when i finally get to it…) consider what has changed since the trees last looked healthy. Is it raining more than it was (it is here) or is it a lot warmer? or has the tree put on a lot of new growth that has increased its water usage?
Whats your drainage like? is it coase grain and fast draining or more organic (potential to waterlog)
Sorry i cant be more helpful.

Thank you, this is big help. It may be that I am looking at changes in the conditions ie: perhaps recently re-potted and not so much to over watering? Drainage I think is good since I only used Boone’s mi I picked up at BSOP. Also, I think the suggestion about watering to the individual tree is probably what I need to do more of, instead of watering everything everyday etc.

Thanks to everyone for you help.

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