How to care for Pom Pom trees

by | Mar 17, 2010 | Caring for your Plants

Hi Dee, How do I care for my new Pom Pom trees? (They are turning brown. Also, are they hearty enough to survive our winters? If so, how deep should I plant them and in what soil type? Thank you so much!
Dear Kristie,

Your pom pom trees are probably a pine variety, most likely scotch pine.  Most pines are hardy to zone 3 or 4.  Apple Valley is considered zone 4.  The tag that came with your trees should have planting and care instructions on it, as well as the variety of tree.  Follow the instructions on the tag.  For most trees and shrubs you want to plant them in well-drained soil,in a hole that is dug twice as large as the root ball of the tree.  Back fill around the tree with a mixture of soil and compost.  Make sure your new trees are getting plenty of water.  When you plant them water thoroughly, and continue watering through the first season.   Most trees, shrubs and perennials need at least one inch of water each week.  The lawn sprinkler will not provide enough water for newly planted trees and shrubs.  It is best to water once or twice a week, soaking the ground around the tree until water pools near the surface.  If you are planting in clay soil it is important that the soil around your new trees is amended to improve drainage.  Enjoy your new trees and thanks for the question.



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  1. Donna

    I have a pom pom juniper tree that I planted last season, it survivied the winter but now some of the entire bushes are turning brown and dying please help me and tell me what I can do, I don’t want to loose my plant. I live in Edmonton, Alberta Canada

    • Eric

      It sounds as if your ornamental evergreen has suffered form a winter inujury; the burning or browing of evergreen foliage due to excessive moisture loss during the winter.

      Flucations in temperature, which cause alternate freezing and thawing, and the excessive loss of moisture, are the primary causes of winter injury or winterkill in evergreen trees.

      Evergreens continue to transpire throughout the winter although the ground may be frozen and water unavailable from the soil. For survival, the tree resorted to tapping living tissue to replenish the moisture.

      Evergreens planted in windy areas with intense southern and western sun exposure, which have not been sufficiently watered in the fall, are susceptible to winter injuries and sun and wind damage increase transpiration.

      Watering your tree once a week until the ground freezes, and three feedings of a high nitrogen fertizer such as a 30-10-10 once in May, again in June and the last feeding the first week of July, will help to prepare it for this winter.

      Some evergreens that suffer from winter injury may be to far damaged to save. If you choose to replace the tree, plant a new one next spring. Water it weekly, do not feed it, you may mix some bone meal or other organic fertilizer in the soil when it is planted, and wrap the tree with burlap in the fall to protect it from the sun and wind. The next spring, feed it with a 30-10-10 fertilizer three times and continue the watering.

  2. Pam

    We bought a pom pom this spring and the nursery planted it. Now it is very brown. We’ve been watering it every other day. Could we have overwatered it?

  3. susan

    I have just read your Q&A section and found the answers too alot of questions I had except one. How do I continue to shape my scotch pines into individual pom poms? Thank you

    • Jason Himmelwright

      The trick to shaping any of the topiaries is to prune new growth as it appears. That means the first growth in the Spring should be pruned off. In the case of pines it would be the new candles that appear as new spring growth begins to show. I would also watch out for sawfly larvae in May and June. Those nasty little creatures have been common the last few years. Hopefully the cycle of their population will decline but it is worth keeping a good watch out for them. They can be killed with a good spray insecticide. Sevin is a very effective one.

  4. Tom Hall

    How tall do these pom pom scotch pines grow and how long does it take to reach mature height? How wide? The tree would only get full sun in the afternoon – would that be enough sun to risk buying one?

    • Jason Himmelwright

      Hello Tom,

      Your topiary is already at the height it was pruned to be. Pom Pom topiary scoth pines are pruned each year to keep their form and shape. This was done as the young tree grew to create what it is today. Each spring as the new growth, called candles, appears prune to maintain the pom poms. As far as sun goes you should be fine as long as your tree gets 6 hours daily. All pines need good drainage so make sure your site will provide that.



    • Pahl's Market

      Unfortunately the only suggestion we have is to spray the plant with the hose and try to remove any residual chemicals and make sure it has adequate moisture in the soil.

  6. helen

    i have a pom pom that turned brown, is their any way to save it, i believe it was from lack of water.

    • Pahl's Market

      If it is totally brown it will take years to try and revive it. Our advice would be to replace it with a new topiary. We currently have shrubs on sale for 30% off, we do have a few Pom Poms in stock.

      If there is any green foliage, you could try pruning off all brown areas leaving the green to fill in – however, this takes a very long time to fill in especially if you have either an Arborvitae or a Juniper.

      Hope this helps,
      Pahl’s Market

  7. kat

    I live in SW Missouri and want to plant a pom pom. The soil is basically rock and clay. Will the pom pom survive here? I had one in Northern Illinois and it did quite well. Landscaping had a dry creek bed with large rocks and foliage nearby, but had sun all the time. Here, I’m not sure if sun would reach it all day. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • chris

      Hi Kat, thanks for your inquiry. Pom Poms like sandy soil with good drainage so it should work there. Half a day of sun would suffice. Good luck with your Pom Pom!

  8. mike

    how often should i water a pom pom juniper?

    • chris

      If it is a well established pom pom juniper you should water 2-3 times per week depending on the weather. If it is a newly planted pom pom a long slow drink 4-5 times a week again depending on the weather and rainfall. Make sure if we have a dry fall that it is kept well watered until the first hard frost.

  9. Dee Dean

    Hi there, 1st Can you tell me why my well-established Pom Pom turns brown in the very middle of the Pom Pom’s? I have recently really studied and gotten into gardening and I noticed when I cleaned all of the needles, leaves (from other trees), etc., out of the center of a “pine tree” and pruned away dead branches, the needled turned brown and it died so I replaced it with a Norfolk pine which is beautiful. When my last Pom Pom did the same thing I transplanted it to the side of the house since it was not looking so hot, waited for hit to get use to it’s new living space and then cleaned it up, by prunning dead branches and cleaning out all of the dead brown leaves, needles, etc, out of the center, which pretty much left bald spots every where, now a year later it is looking more full and healthier w/minimum bald spots. What am I doing wrong? This one I need help w/ is turning brown and I am afraid to clean it out because the outside of it looks amazing and if I do “gut” it, it will look terrible. They literally seem like they are rotting insde due to all the dead foilage, etc., that falls in there. I finally got the perfect Pom Poms on this one and it looks amazing and I want to fix it before it is too far gone…..HELP PLEASE!!! We live in VA and have Windmill Palms, so if I can take care of those and they survived two winters w/some burlap and look amazing, then why can’t I take care of these Pom Poms??!!! Sorry for rambling. Do you guys ship plants to other states or should you buy shrubs, etc., from your own state? Thank you!!!!

    • Chris Kaufenberg

      It is difficult to determine what could be the possible cause without knowing the climate conditions in VA. It sounds as though you are taking the proper care needed for the pom poms. It might be beneficial to contact a local nursery that might be more familiar with growing conditions in your zone.

      We do not ship plants out of state.

  10. J. Dalsow

    Is it possible to convert a pom-pon scotch pine to a pleasing layered look. If so, how would one do that?

    • Chris Kaufenberg

      Pom Pom Scotch Pines need to be pruned every year to maintain the pom pom shape. If the shrub has grown out enough you can prune into whatever layered shape you would like. Simply use a scissors or pruners to trim into the desired shape. Best time of year to do this would be in the month of June.

      • J. Dalsow

        Thanks! I will give it a go.

  11. Kelsey Hill - Spruce Grove Alberta

    My husband bought me a Scotch pine Pom Pom for mothers day this year. It was planted on May 19 in a very large hole. we were instructed to “drill” irrigation holes as some of the soil was clay. We bought all new dirt and compost when we finally got the hole big enough to put in the ground. I watered it every day for the rest of the month (2 weeks) and then it rained, and I mean rained (17 days out of 19) for the month of June.. every day that it didn’t rain I ensured the tree got water. We were told the tree liked the sun, so we planted it in the corned of the fence where it would get some morning and early afternoon sun. However the fence is whiteish in colour, and I am wondering if the reflection of the paint/fence is burning the tree?? could this be possible???

    However the pom pom’s are now almost ALL brown and it is only the middle of July. Is my tree dying?? is it dead?? how can I save it.?? It was very expensive and we did buy the warranty on it, but I do not want to have to dig it up, take it back and re plant a whole new tree.

    Can you please help me figure out why my tree is all brown in the middle of Summer.

    • Chris Kaufenberg

      Hi Kelsey, it sounds as though the tree might have been over watered. When evergreens are over watered they start turning brown from the bottom up. It is possible the tree will still survive and we wouldn’t recommend replacing it yet. Evergreens need good drainage and not much water, check the soil for moisture and water only when it is dry. The reflection off the white paint of the fence will not effect the tree, and your description of where it is planted sounds like a good spot.

      Thanks, Pahl’s Market

  12. Johnni Foreman

    Johnni Foreman Cleveland, Ohio the second week of July I purchased a six branch Pom Pom shrub is it ok to put into the ground now, it was in a large plastic pot.
    I am planting it on the corner of my house facing the west and there is full sun until sun sets some sand and clay

    Thank You,
    Ms J.

    • Chris Kaufenberg

      Ms. J,

      Yes, it is OK to put it into the ground now. The tag that came with your trees should have planting and care instructions on it, Follow the instructions on the tag. For most trees and shrubs you want to plant them in well-drained soil in a hole that is dug twice as large as the root ball of the tree. Back fill around the tree with a mixture of soil and compost. When you plant it be sure to water thoroughly, and continue watering through the first season. Enjoy your new trees and thanks for the question.

      Pahl’s Market

  13. Reta Campbell

    Our pom pom tree has been planted now six months, it looks very healthy and so dark green. We live in zone 4, our winters are very cold and lots of snow most years, do I need to protect the tree from the winds? I will water it every week until the ground freezes; am I doing the right thing? I don”t want to loose my tree!! It is not in an ares that has any protection. Thanks for the advise

    • Chris Kaufenberg

      Watering weekly until the ground freezes is the correct thing to do. To protect the needles from wind and winter burn wrap the pom poms with burlap. Check out our Nursery Manager on Kare 11 this Saturday, October 25th as he will be discussing how to prevent winter burn. Thanks for your question, good luck with you pom pom tree!

  14. Reinelda Marcos

    I have boulevard cypress pom poms, The outer foliage are blooming but the inner part close to the main trunk is getting brown. Plant specialist told me to put fertilizer like the spike, then I scraped all those ugly brown leaves and small branches. I water them twice a week. Am I doing the right way?

    • Chris Kaufenberg

      Sounds like you are doing all the right things!

  15. isabel laboy

    i brought two sea green Juniper pom pom my question is when can I plant them? I live Chicago, Illinois. Please respond!!!!!!

    • Chris Kaufenberg

      Thank you for your question Isabel. Our best suggestion would be for you to check with a local garden center in your plant hardiness zone. Where we are located, zone 4, Fall is a great time to still plant trees, shrubs & perennials.

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