Saturday, January 7, 2012

Attempting The Impossible

At The Wrong Time Of Year

They say pine trees will not transplant. They say the best tree planting time is in the spring or in the fall. So they say.

But a volunteer pine tree, most likely Pinus strobus or White Pine, is too close to the path and in the utility easement's danger zone. It might be the middle of winter, but the conditions of cool temperatures and days of rain to come are just right for transplanting, very fall or spring like. I have been eyeing it for years thinking I either need to move it or kill it. Today I decided to move it. I can be a gardening rebel at times.

If I was going to make the effort to move it, it did make sense to follow the rest of protocol for transplanting to increase the chances of survival. The lower limbs were removed to reduce the leaf/needle surface by a bit over 50% to slow water loss. A generous hole was dug around the tree to get a good portion of the roots.

That little green speck in the top center is the White Pine in its new home. It will hopefully add to my winter evergreen screening from the scenic byway. It was planted just slightly over the property line for a borrowed landscape effect and just out of reach of the utility company. Good luck little pine tree.

It is in a spot where it should get some decent morning to midday sun during the time of vegetation. Plenty more sun in the winter of course. I have seen white pines in significantly less than full sun conditions that are doing quite well. They are not quite as dense in shadier sites, but full enough.

The baby pine is taller than it appears in these pictures. Late last fall a ravenous hoard of caterpillars ate all the needles off the upper branches. The trees fate was undecided and I was too fascinated by the ravenous hoard to disturb them. I think they were just getting it ready to transplant.

If all goes well in another decade or so only invited guests will get the full scenic view of the cozy cabin. The rubberneckers on the highway above will have to settle for tiny glimpses through an undulating screen of evergreens.

It has been gently and intermittently raining all day. The snow in the diagnosis is iffy and many days away. Snow isn't really a problem for the baby pine. It is bone chilling arctic temperatures that could freeze the ground deeply and cut off its water supply that could be hazardous. That just hasn't been happening in this winter that isn't.

Good luck little pine tree. Show us that anything is possible.


Laurrie said...

Transplanting trees in winter, as long as the ground can be dug and worked, is just fine. Your little pine will be okay. They are fast growers, so in a few years you'll have some screening. You may need to do some shearing to keep the branches fuller, but you don't need to make a stiff pyramid, just trim for fullness.

Not impossible. Not at all. Good move.

Anonymous said...

I defer to Laurie's knowledge, but certainly a lot of received wisdom in gardening is not applicable to an individual situation, so I agree it's certainly worth a try! Sounds like you are continuing to keep busy; you make me feel guilty! :)


Christopher C. NC said...

Laurrie I have high hopes for success.

Bev I think part of my received wisdom about transplanting pines is that in Florida the pine species there and the sandy soil meant they generally had strong long tap roots. This pine didn't and I thought if it was prone to a tap root chances were good it would hit a rock and get deflected. No tap root, good root ball dug, pouring rain now. All good.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Good luck little pine tree.

Christopher C. NC said...

The little pine tree says thank you Lisa

Jean Campbell said...

I liked this post.

Lola said...

Great for the little pine tree. It will be fine & give you yrs of enjoyment. I transplanted a black walnut one time up there. It was doing good when I saw it last.

Wondering Woman said...

I've moved several pine trees and they haven't all made it but I've had about a 70% success rate.