Is my potted stone pine dying?

mayflyawayJanuary 22, 2008


I live in a studio apartment and didnt have room for a big christmas tree, so I got a potted italian stone pine that, supposedly, can live in a pot indefinitely (according to the tag). I adore my little tree as it keeps the neighbors from peeping in, it smells good, and it reminds me of home (it's the closest i can get to a forest at this time in my life). I'd like to keep it around until i move somewhere where it can be planted. However, I'm having some problems. The tree is losing all of its needles and shriveling up. it looks like it's dying. It's in very well draining soil and I wait until the soil is pretty dry before watering again, since they are mediteranean trees. I think it's dying for lack of sunlight, because I don't get any direct sunlight in my apartment in the depths of winter. However, on the few sunny days we get here in Oregon during the winter, I take it out into the hall and let it sit in the windowsill soaking up sun all day. The rest of the time it's home is my windowsill, so it gets plenty of indirect light. Is my tree dying? Should I wait until spring to repot, or repot now in hopes that I can save it? Should I fertilize it? Is there anything I can do??



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Can you post a photo?

If it is losing needles, I suspect it might not be a Stone Pine; sounds more like a spruce. Dead needles on Stone Pines don't drop off, they turn brown but stay on.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 9:15PM
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Thanks for the response! I wasnt sure how to post a photo in the forum so i uploaded a couple to google photos. You can view by clicking the link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: click me to see the tree!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 9:41PM
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It probably would have been better off staying outdoors mulched into a large pot (with drain holes) for winter - it's not meant to be a house plant, and if you don't have bonsai knowledge of growing conifers, you probably won't be able to manage now. Can you find another one to start with in spring, and grow it outside?

    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 9:42PM
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Oh...I live in an apartment downtown in a city, so nowhere to put it. If there's no way to save it, I guess that's that. :(

    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 11:24PM
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shortleaf2002(5b 6a KCMO, USA)

I don't think it was your fault. I think the "Living Christmas trees" are considered doomed by the retailers shortly after they have had a chance to sell and bring in the $20 apiece or whatever they charge.
I also bought a $19.99 Italian Stone Pine from Wally World (it was just one "living Christmas tree" that I had, I had several). I watered that one daily, had it under a grow light and it gradually just turned brown and died. In about 4 months or so it was dead. I hate to be a bringer of bad news but I think that Christmas is the only Christmas they are meant to see.
I thought I was really rescueing, but things only got worse, it seemed like there was nothing I could do.
One glimmer there for me was nearly all of the "Living Christmas tree" Dwarf Alberta Spruces. They are hardy here is all I can think of, I even put them outside thru the following Winters, and now 2 of them are like sentinels for my driveway.
Your in Oregon though, there is a chance that Italian Stone Pine may pull out of it and adapt and be okay.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   January 23, 2008 at 5:23AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

mfa, you're one of many, many consumers who try to grow these conifers inside the home. They simply will not survive, unfortunately. Next year, perhaps you could 'adopt' a Norfolk Island Pine, a tropical conifer well suited for the role of houseplant.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2008 at 12:46PM
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Thanks for all the responses! I will definitely look into the other varieties in the future.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2008 at 9:15PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

Unfortunately, most of the trees sold as "Living indoor Christmas trees" should be kept indoors for no longer than a week, possibly 10 days, if kept in a cool room. Almost all houses with central heating are too dry - and too warm - for trees that normally grow as outside trees to be happy and to grow. If you started one from seed and only kept it inside, it might be able to survive, but otherwise, it's only those conifers that come from the tropic/semi-tropic areas, like a Norfolk Island Pine, that can live indoors for very long, and that with some attention to humidity around them in winter. Even most bonsai conifers are kept out side, or in an unheated building, and brought inside only for display for a week or so.

I'm sorry you can't keep your Stone pine, but wish you luck in your next choice!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2008 at 12:34AM
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I bought a small potted christmas tree and it was doing great- then I placed it out on the windowsill (in the sun) and it did even better. Grew twice the size and was growing nice and strong os I decided to repot it because the pot it was in was disproportional and it required a bigger one, and it was starting to fade in june. I repotted it in a more sour soil as i'm told that's what you're supposed to do for coniferes (i asked at the garden shop) and it's been dying ever since; slowly but surely all the needles dried up and fell... could this be due to the incredible rain season that's been going on? How can that make sense since i'd been watering it almost every day wen it was really hot and sunny and all it did was grow bigger and bigger every day? I gave it some "fertilizer/healing" thing but it doesn't seem to have worked yet. The last of the needles and i do mean it when i say there's maybe a handful left, are hanging but i feel they'll fall too. Do you think it can bounce back? Should I jsut give it time or declare it dead? Maybe tweaking/trimming parts of it could help?


    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 6:33AM
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I bought a small potted Italian Stone pine 3 years ago at Rite Aide. I live in Beverly Hills, CA. After Christmas I put the tree on my terrace outside my one bedroom apt. It grew rather fast. I repotted it and it is now roughly 2 and half feet high and very wide. This is the third Christmas with the tree. It does have a few brown needles in the middle but the outside is flush green. We do bring it indoors for the holidays than back out on the terrace afterwards. Does anyone know if I repot it into a bigger pot if it will grow bigger? The pot now is about 15 inches high and the tree roughly 22 inches. Thanks

    Bookmark   December 3, 2010 at 5:17PM
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What do the roots look like? That is what I would love to know about your italian stone pine? Do they look alive and growing? I have this tree and I thought it was dying I really was not paying any attention to this thing. I did not water it when I first got it. I didn't read how to take care of it. It had said not to overheat it such as being indoors near a heater or something. In no way did it say put it outside. I ignored the thing. I figured it's a tree it can take abuse and go without watering for some time. When I got around to it I repotted it. I had noticed the soil it was in was poor! And hard even. The new soil I gave it was fresh and can retain the water well and feed the roots. I never give up on plants if those roots are still growing the thing is still alive. Perhaps your overthinking what to do with your nifty little tree. How are your needles falling off? Do they easily come off by you pulling? Or are they falling off by themselves? When you say this tree is shrivelling how so? is this thing limp like a noodle here? Give it time that is my opinion don't mess around with it too much. No matter what type of plant or tree or whatever you have there are just a few factors that will contribute to it still growing sunlight,water most plants don't need too much of either. Most plants will adapt if something is lacking. However your talking about a studio apartment your temperature could indeed affect it. Try putting it in the coldest spot in the place. Moving it into the hallway could indeed help give it some much needed sunlight. However.... your overthinking doing that. I repotted mine I made sure i completely saturated the roots and used some good soil with fertillizer in it. After that I left it alone and watered it whenever the heck i got around to it. I guarantee if u repot it will come back during the summer. I also have another trick when u replant it use a big pot get another plant or another tree even and plant them together. That sounds crazy but don't trees and plants live together outside. Birds poop and stuff fertilizing these living things. you had asked shud I fertilize it. yes! I don't care what you did wrong. Your plant still could be alive and come back. In my opinion you over watered why else would it become limp. It is just this itty bitty baby tree not some hearty giant tree. If your tree could talk it would say omg!!! a flood is occuring!!! yes thanks for this sunlight but let loose the water and get some nutrients in here!! What difference does it make even if u make and effort to save it what do you have to lose even if it does die. What does the base of it look like? is it brown and look like the trunk of a tree? or black and done I'd wait till something I own to be done personally. Look outside your window at trees are there people tending to them? No. Trees find a way. Trees even cut off life from other living plants. Trees even expose the extraordinary properties of water. Without these properties trees wouldn't even exist. What type of water are you using? is it from your faucet? What kind of water do you have? Cud a bit of spring water help? These are very good questions perhaps you didn't consider. No matter. You did a good job asking a question. To end this answer you could have very well indeed had stuck your tree in a cold corner with little sunlight in a drainage pot in a bowl of water and the tree will drink when it wants but in no way spoil it. It is a tree.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 1:03PM
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