I have three limber pines, the pyramid type, about 4 feet tall. The deer ate the heck out of them, and all that is left is a few needles here and there on some of the branches. They are pretty well bald for the most part: will these trees recover? Will they fill out again or is that a lost cause? They were sooo full before the deer got them. I didn’t protect them, because I was told deer don’t like them, but I guess that is not the case. I have pictures if you need to see them.
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Jacqui in Montanna: Limber pine (Pinus flexilis) ‘Vanderwolf’s Pyramid’ are nice evergreens used in home gardens for screening or specimen plantings. The reality is that there is no plant that is 100 percent deer-proof. If they are hungry enough they will eat just about anything in their path. As a general rule, once evergreens lose their foliage they do not typically recover, regardless of the manner in which they lost it. Unfortunately, it does not sound good for your pines. They do not have much foliage left in order to photosynthesize and the fact that these are not established plantings gives them even less of a chance of survival. Did the deer do any damage to the trunk of the trees? If so, they may have damaged the cambium layer, which is essential for transferring food and nutrients. If this layer has been rubbed it can be very detrimental to the evergreens. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the only thing to do now is wait and see what happens. If they are going to put on any new growth they will begin to do this in the spring. An application of a well-balanced fertilizer will be beneficial if you notice any new growth; otherwise it would not be worth your time or expense.