URGENT, PLEASE HELP! Collected scots pine is dying

Hello from Norway!

I am desperate to save this tree, so any help will be highly appreciated.

I will start with the problem and give the background story last as it may not be necessary for you guys giving me advice.

I collected an awesome scots pine this spring, but I didn’t get nearly as much roots as I hoped for and I suspect the tree is struggling. I base this on slightly yellowing on the needle tips and buds not breaking, although all pines I can see in the wild have formed needles at this point in time, I also think the foliage color is not as vibrant green anymore.

This is my measures so far:

-It was planted in pumice as I did not have any wood chips at the time unfortunately, but now I have added 2-3 inches on top of the pumice (From Randy Knights aftercare stream the added heat from wood chips breaking down and the beneficial microbial activity will help on root growth).

-I set up a party tent with three walls so the tree only gets morning sun.

-It has been a 4-5 day cold period with shade and rain here now, so I have used a fan oven to give the roots some heat and increase airflow from underneath (planted in a half pallet firmly set on the grown). The oven keeps the air below the pallet at roughly 90 deg. Fahrenheit(30-32C).

-I have set up an automatic system that mists the foliage and trunk 2 minutes every hour from sunrise to sun set.

-I have shielded the soil so it does not get any water from the misting.

-I let the soil dry pretty good before watering (approximately every three days even with the oven on). It has been raining heavy so the air is quite humid.

-Every 10 days I have sprayed the foliage, trunk and branches with liquid fertilizer at full strength, I have shielded the soil to avoid fertilizer there.

Still the buds do not swell or show sign of growth and we are now expecting a warmer period with sun.
I am desperate to what I can do to give it the best chance of survival. I have been thinking of some additional measures, and some might seem a bit extreme, and I don’t want to make matters worse so please advise.

  1. Artificial plant lights. Keeping it from afternoon and evening sun reduces the heat and the stress in the roots. But to get the tree as strong as possible I am thinking of adding artificial plant light so it will continue photosynthesis at a higher rate but not require high water transpiration due to heat.
  2. Or is it better to remove the light altogether and keeping it in a moist environment (black bag technique)?
  3. Remove some foliage to reduce the stress on the roots. If so I would just pluck out needles instead of cutting branches as the that will require a lot of energy from the tree to heal, or is this a bad idea in any case?
  4. Taking the tree out of the wood box and replant it on a thin layer of wood chips on landscape fabric. I am afraid it will disturb the minimum of roots present so I am reluctant to do so, but if that is what it takes…

And some more extreme thoughts
5. Can I trick the tree do go in to dormancy again without the buds having broken out? I am thinking I can gradually reduce the light it receives to simulate summer going to autumn and then to winter. If necessary, I will build an insulated shelter around it install a cooler to get the temperature down below 41 deg. (5 Celsius). I could then simulate spring again in August/September or so with artificial heat and lights before slowly taking it to dormancy in November/December.
6. Another idea is to drill a hole in the trunk connect it to a hose and have a column of water slightly higher than the tree, gravity feeding water directly in to this hole to get water transport up to the foliage. Haven’t seen this anywhere or know if it might work, but desperate times gives desperate measures.

The background story:
I started preparing this tree from a bog 1,5 year ago by removing field soil close to the trunk and pack pumice in. Also added some root hormone to the existing roots. I also did a half circle of digging around the tree. Early this year I cut the other half of the circle. In May we had a heat spell and the tree had no shade to hide from the intense sun. I also had another tree that had the same treatment, although a bit weaker, die at that time, so I thought the best thing to was to dig it up so I could get it in the shade and keep the foliage moist. Due to the urgency, I did not prepare any wood chips but planted in a half pallet with pumice and landscape fabric as bottom mesh.

Previous thread where I have asked for help on this tree:


So, the foliage picture looks pretty good. Pines that have heavy root-work done can be delayed months in pushing new growth.
The more you handle this tree, move it around, inspect the root growth by moving soil around the less likely this tree will survive.
Keep giving it morning sun and afternoon shade.
I’d back off of the fertilizer treatment.
I imagine there is not much field soil on this tree. Being that it is in pumice there is essentially no risk of overwatering. Water every day. In 5 min the water will be drained off and the roots will once again have access to oxygen.
No more fan or artificial heat unless it’s bottom heat.
Don’t mess with the light, don’t try to trick the tree. Balance of water and oxygen. Sounds like you are keeping this tree a little dry.


Great advice, good husbandry and let the tree find its way.

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I’m in a similar situation with a Jack pine dug up last fall with minimal rootage. The tree was frozen all winter, and stayed green. It’s still green now but no candles. Is it possible that the tree might just skip this year entirely and maybe push the candles next spring?

I had one small collected pine skip a year of growth. I just kept an eye on BoWO and it pushed the following spring.

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Thank you very much for the solid advice! I think you are right. I was starting to loose my head. The key information here was that the bud push can be delayed and that this does not necessarily mean the tree is dying, also glad to hear the bud push can be delayed until next year. Was your tree that skipped an entire year also a scots pine? Anyway I will continue as you propose.

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I had that situation last year, but with a scots pine, I waited until this year, but needles got brown and fell off. But as ryan.marin has experienced the tree can skip a year so maybe its worth to give it a chance

Hey, I think you went over and beyond. I’d decrease on the fertilizer a bit if not entirely. If the tree is not growing it doesn’t need fertilizer. Other than that, the tent, the misting, the protection of the roots from over damping with water, the heat source for the roots is all you can do. Balance of water and oxygen and wait. The rest is interesting but crazy (simulating dormancy or Intra-Xylem water transfusion). This awesome tree will make it or will not. Not much else you can do. FYI, I have a jack pine (very similar to sylvestris) that spent a year without budding only to create new buds and start the year after. The yellowing in the needles may be in the 3 year ones but it is possible that as spent as they are they will not fall. My Jack pine in question had its first strong flush this year for the first time since collection in August 2018, having skipped 2019 as I mentioned above and a very weak flush in 2020. The last piece of advise I’d give you is to consider keeping it between 2C and 5C over winter. Good luck.


I had collected pines from south of France 2/3 years ago with an old bonsai grower, he did it for many years, he’s basic advice was to watering it properly morning and night, do not put any fertilizer as roots are fightings to grow fertilizer won’t help in this way, same advice for any recovering tree. His watering system gives misting water for about 15min 2 time per day, he told me that he had better results with it than just watering with a water can, As new shoots appears then he will begin to fertilize but not before… Also for smaller Yamadori with less roots he would put it in a double pot ( one pot in an other one) to keep a better heat retention for the roots.

He was use to travel to Japan, and get his methodology from there. I’ve seen some of his pines pines way worse than yours that recovered 1 year after and that are very healthy today.

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if you collected in a bog; maybe you made the box slightly too large? Did you make the smallest possible size box to capture the roots? Lots of holes on bottom and on sides ? Maybe also tilt the box a little to help drainage; the pumice will hold some water; maybe you are babying it too much and just leave it alone. Do not drill any holes in the trunk; Your #6 idea above is slightly crazy I would say. If the pine has roots and is planted in pumice; it will grow; but maybe just leave it alone at this point …a little benign neglect…Regards Tom

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Thank you very much for the advice! It is very reassuring to hear that the the tree can survive without budding. I will back off with the fertilizer until I se some signs of growth. I have a heat bed that the tree will placed on this winter. I am guessing the low temperatures in the foliage is ok, as long as the roots dont freeze. Or do you recommend the entire tree to be kept in the 2-5C?

As a side note, I did an experiment with water transfusion into the xylem on some juniper cuttings last year. They actually stayed green much longer than cuttings set in water or sat directly in moist soil. But as I started late summer they did not get much time before the water started to freeze and I started to add sugar to the water to prevent freezing, from there it went downhill. I had to refill the hose on daily basis in the summer and could measure the decrease in water consumption as days got shorter and temperature decreased.

Thank you for your advice! Good to see the advice is fairly aligned from you guys. I guess the double pot will be more important when temperature gets cooler, and not as important now in summer time?

Thank you for the advice. Yes I made the box as small as possible. Hard to see in the picture but I have reduced the inside volume so it has only 1-2 inches of pumice outside the roots. I did have a concern about the air penetrating the landscape fabric from underneath, and also I have not any drilled holes in the bottom, only the pallet slits. I think I will make some extra holes, and also stop the babying it:-)