What to do to help an overstressed tree

I recently did a bit of work on a mountain hemlock of mine and I apparently went a little overboard with the pruning, wiring, bending and shaping. The tree is now showing pretty significant signs of stress and has been losing needles at a frightening rate. Probably 30% of it’s needles have dropped and the remaining 70% are slightly yellowed.

I have moved the tree to a location which only receives a tiny amount of morning sun, but beyond continuing to water it I am not sure what else I can do as triage. The root system is not terribly developed so I imagine at least one of the trees challenges is it’s inability to move sufficient water, on the other hand it’s foliar mass is also quite limited so it shouldn’t need to move that much water to begin with.

Are there any other steps I can take to help the tree along?

I think that’s the best you can do right now. Maybe protect it from wind too, if you haven’t already.

Make sure you aren’t overwatering the tree either. Pull back on fertilization.


I don’t want to be alarmist but you may lose more than half of your tree before it starts to recover. Has it been frosted lately? All you can do is really ease back on the watering as you are doing and keep it in shade and protect from frost. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.


Pretty much what’s been said. Make sure you aren’t over watering, keep it out of the wind, and if all possible in a green house. Don’t fertilize so you don’t add extra salts to the soil. Don’t mist so the tree isn’t staying wet and develops mold or fungal issues. Besides that, cross your fingers, plead to your higher power, and learn from it.

Don’t fuss with it too much though. I’ve noticed that there’s been times where all my fussing only made it worse.


Thank you, yeah the tree is very protected from wind as well. I did add a small amount of high nitrogen fertilizer about a week ago but I definitely won’t be doing any more.

the soil it’s planted in is just regular dark organic potting soil because it’s what i had at the time, a better soil mixture would be better of course but stressing the tree any further would probably do more harm than good.

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there is no real risk of frost here anymore, the stress is almost certainly due to the work I did about a week ago.

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