Mugo Pine help

(Question)

Hi,
We have a lovely mugo pine in the front yard which this year seems to have quite a bit of dead brown needles.

My husband fears the tree is dying. I’m thinking the long winter caused the excess browning.

Any tips on when to prune the dead needles and if we should fertilize etc?

Would appreciate any help.

Thanks.

(Answer)

Mugo pine with dead brown needles.

You may be experiencing what many Toronto area gardeners have noticed: the severe cold with no reprieve for almost two months caused many evergreens and conifers especially to burn.

If the brown needles are appearing throughout the plant, try giving the mugo pine a shake to rid it of the dead needles. Watch for new growth which may be occurring now. Generally, mugo pines do not need fertilizing, although a general purpose feeding in spring as new growth appears could be a boost.

If, however, the needles occur near the bottom and the lower branches appear to be dying, you may be experiencing pine rust. Examine the areas affected very carefully for blister-like bumps.

www.missouribotanicalgarden.org  has the following description. “The first sign of the disease is small yellow spots on the needles in fall and throughout the winter. In spring the spots develop spore-producing structures and the needles brown and die resulting in needle drop and the loss of lower limbs. Young pines are most affected.”

Treatment would involve removing the affected parts of the plant. If the problem persists, the whole tree may have to be removed.