Duhjoker
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Top pruning of mikawa black pine to shorten height of tree

Hi
I recently bought the black pine pictured below. First I need to pot the tree but I wanted to know exactly how to prune a particular part of the tree giving me the shape I want without killing my tree. The arrow shows where I want to cut making that the top of the tree. But I'm afraid of making such a cut. Can anyone help me this. Also what might I have around the house that I can seal the cut with after pruning. Thanks for any advise.
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tomc
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Re: Top pruning of mikawa black pine to shorten height of tr

I don't grow black pine. With that said, I might search the web for three or four others who do top work in late August.

I'm thinking you won't find any.

I might also let those new candles erupt more first at any rate. No terminal needle(s) sounds like a dead JBP.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Top pruning of mikawa black pine to shorten height of tr

Wow - I thought I would try to look up a reference for you for when to prune your black pine, thinking I would find something that said prune in spring or prune in fall or whatever. Turns out it is way more complicated than that, with several different kinds of pruning that are done at different critical times.


"I discourage beginners from working with Black Pine, Pinus thunbergii, because it takes so long, and you need to know so much just to begin. I started with Black Pine, ignorant of this fact and massacred a lot of plants learning how, even with John Naka's book, Bonsai Techniques I. I bought about 100 of them in one gallon cans, old root bound plants that appeared to have potential. Some of them have turned out to be really nice trees, but ten years, later the best are still several years away from being finished bonsai. Not a subject for the impatient. So when beginners ask me what to do with this seedling pine they just bought, I just roll my eyes and try to talk them into a nice deciduous tree."
https://www.evergreengardenworks.com/pines.htm

That's the introduction to that article, then it goes on to give a lot of info.

Bonsai4me has an article on pruning pine bonsai:

https://www.bonsai4me.com/AdvTech/ATPine%20Pruning.html

which also starts out with a discouragment:

"Pine pruning techniques in reality are very straightforward, however trying to learn them can be very confusing as there is so much contradictory advice offered in Bonsai publications and books. This confusion normally arises from the attempt of Bonsai publications to be too specific about the precise time of the year that certain techniques should be carried out. Unfortunately, different pine species require pruning at slightly different times of the year; different climates will also affect the advancement of Pine growth through the year and this also causes creates confusion when trying to follow advice that has been written for a different climate. "

But it looks like really good info.

I have never tried pine bonsai and haven't had real good luck with even growing full sized conifers either in containers or the ground, so all I can say is you should do a lot of reading and preferably find a bonsai club/ class near you before you start chopping in to your tree. Bonsai is an art for the patient. If you end up waiting until next year to do anything but learning how to take care of your tree, that's probably ok too....
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Re: Top pruning of mikawa black pine to shorten height of tr

RBG is a pretty good arborist. I draw some comfort from his struggle with black pine. I gave all of mine away (which is why I don't grow them any more).
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Re: Top pruning of mikawa black pine to shorten height of tr

Duhjoker,

The usual plan for developing Pines is to allow a sacrificial leader to grow unchecked for an extended time to thicken the trunk. Often a sacrifice branch is allowed to grow from the base as well. Neither of these sacrifice elements will be incorporated into the "finished" design. Your future bonsai will be developed from one or more of the low shoots, which must be nurtured.

In other words it is far too soon to remove the leader. Several more years of growth will thicken the trunk and allow you time to research your next step. I think I have posted a few pictures of some two needle Pines I am working with. I'll see if I can find them.

Norm

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Top pruning of mikawa black pine to shorten height of tr

Gnome - Here is one of the threads in which you posted about this with a couple nice pictures:

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/vi ... hp?t=39790
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Re: Top pruning of mikawa black pine to shorten height of tr

Ok here's my problem though: I have read many many articles on JPB. And this isn't my first rodeo with bonsai, have had many junipers, but this is my first JPB. And all the articles say that the top of tree is where you get most of your new growth while the lower parts get less and less foliage the farther down you go away from the top. So by letting the top leaders grow the less chance of the tree producing needles then branches at the lower portion of the plant. Also whether I make the pruning or not the trunk will still grow thicker. Also the tree is already in the exact shape I want it, all it really needs is some time and patience to develop the lower portion of the tree. Thank every body for your advice. I am listening, just asking further questions.

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Re: Top pruning of mikawa black pine to shorten height of tr

RGB,

Thanks for the assist. I was at work earlier and did not have time to search for the pictures.

Duhjoker,

I readily admit that I am no Pine guru but I still contend it is too soon to chop this one. Here is a current picture of the same tree as above. It is over three feet tall and the leader has never been pruned. I would not have pruned the low sacrifice either but it was beginning to develop reverse taper at that location.
Pine.jpg
And all the articles say that the top of tree is where you get most of your new growth while the lower parts get less and less foliage the farther down you go away from the top. So by letting the top leaders grow the less chance of the tree producing needles then branches at the lower portion of the plant.
I understand but look at the picture. This tree was started from seed in, I believe, 2006 and I still have potential branches low. Note, however, that I have removed any branches that might have shaded the lower shoots.
Also whether I make the pruning or not the trunk will still grow thicker.
Foliage is what drives the thickening of your trunk and by removing any you only serve to slow development.
Also the tree is already in the exact shape I want it, all it really needs is some time and patience to develop the lower portion of the tree.
It's your call but this plant has no taper and which tends to promote a juvenile appearance. If this were mine I would allow one sacrifice low as well as the sacrifice leader.

Norm

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Re: Top pruning of mikawa black pine to shorten height of tr

I really thank you for your advice and will take all into consideration. I wasn't really planning on doing any pruning just yet, but wanted to see if it was possible to do what I wanted with out killing my tree. I fully understand it takes years to cultivate a good bonsai. Especially with slow growing JBP. I'm in no hurry but I kinda like a lanky looking tree as long as I can get the branches and top of tree to poof out with needles like its supposed to. Also I've looked online for any type of Bonsai club or something close to it and have had no luck. The nearest place for me here on galveston island is a hundred miles away. So no go on that.

I also asked the people at House of bonsai who grew and trained my tree and here is what they said.

When you cut the pine branch, go down the base where the green needle is at only, not middle of bare branch.
then pull out green needle alternative way all the way up and down &around to thin out 50% down.
This process direct tree where to promote new candle to build new branch ramification, pine does not need to seal the cut wound, sap would come out seal itself. next year, please do this process one month earlier in your area.

I don't really understand what was said, if any one can translate this please do. And really thanks every body.

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Re: Top pruning of mikawa black pine to shorten height of tr

Duhjoker,
I also asked the people at House of bonsai who grew and trained my tree and here is what they said.

When you cut the pine branch, go down the base where the green needle is at only, not middle of bare branch.
then pull out green needle alternative way all the way up and down &around to thin out 50% down.
This process direct tree where to promote new candle to build new branch ramification, pine does not need to seal the cut wound, sap would come out seal itself. next year, please do this process one month earlier in your area.


I don't really understand what was said, if any one can translate this please do.
Barring a misunderstanding, due to obvious language issues, this is describing the process known as candling or candle pruning. This is done yearly to finished branches, the point being to limit the length of each years growth while promoting ever increasing branching, or ramification.

The process is timed to allow for a second flush of growth while limiting the amount of time remaining in the season. This is why the timing is dependent upon your locale.

However, this assumes that you have the trunk established and finished branches at least underway. Until the basics of your tree is established this is not yet relevant.

Please note that I am still in the process of learning this myself. If you are serious about Pines I suggest that you read and re-read these articles.

Black Pine, Training
Black Pine, Growing

I have also learned much from this book.

Norm

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Re: Top pruning of mikawa black pine to shorten height of tr

Thank you Norm for that translation, I will read and re-read both articles, yea I'm a lil stubborn actually been wanting to try JBP for years now just couldn't find anyone with cheap enough stock. I'm going to take this as painfully slow as I have to so I don't kill it and to insure a pretty tree.

Since I have your attention, I was wondering about potting the tree in to my bonsai pot. The pot I have is 6"3/4 X 4"3/4 X 2" 1/4 inside dimensions. It's big enough and will allow room for good root growth. But here's my problem. Everybody says use Akadama but every pack of Akadama I've used has been mostly pine bark with very lil actual dirt particles which makes it hard to insure the tree has enough soil in the right places. I've actually killed two trees trying to use it. Now my elders are telling me to repot using normal soil but the problem with that is it stays to moist and ill drown my tree or cause root rot. I was thinking maybe mix a lil reg soil and a dash of natural sand to my Akadama so its able to fill gaps and spaces and will settle right. If not what would you reccomend. I have looked all over for any kind of info on the proper preparation of premixed Akadama for use to no avail. If its out there and I'm just looking in the wrong place please tell me. Also JBP need proper drainage so they don't drown.

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Re: Top pruning of mikawa black pine to shorten height of tr

Also I just received my tree two days ago. I was told by HOB to repot right away but my instincts say to wait a week. How long should I wait? Oh and the soil it's been growing in looks like and has same texture of reg potting soil. Is that normal?

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Re: Top pruning of mikawa black pine to shorten height of tr

Gnome
Hi you mentioned the tree in the pic was a 3 feet high. At what point do you dwarf the tree and how. In this link https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/vi ... hp?t=39790 it shows a tree with an ultra long leader and what seems to be the cultivated spot at the bottom. He said eventually he will remove the leader at some point. And " greener thumb " says a tree with out a leader will certainly die. So how exactly do you remove the leader with out killing the tree once the trunk has achieved the desired shape and thickness? Do you wait til the branches at the desired height candle and then become new leaders? I'm a lil confused.

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Re: Top pruning of mikawa black pine to shorten height of tr

DJ, you may have a clearer idea of where you want to go than I (at least) do.

Please post regularly.
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Re: Top pruning of mikawa black pine to shorten height of tr

Duhjoker,

First, there is no urgency to any of this, the tree is fine as it is now. Now quickly just to satisfy your curiosity and to allow further research, then I'm gone for the day.

I use no imported ( akadama etc.) soil components, there are suitable domestic materials available. We have a thread concerning soil in our learning library. I have no soil in any of my pots which is not to say there are no organics. For most species I use some Pine bark, but not much. If memory serves there are no organics in the Pines.

Bonsai pots are for finished trees. I suspect that most of us have broken this rule and if yours allows for growth it won't be the end of the world. I have always potted my Pines early in the season.

Both of the Pines shown above are mine, the same tree in fact. When I do chop it one of the small shoots will become the new leader. What was mentioned about the tree dying is a reference to the fact that Pines will not behave like deciduous trees which can generally be chopped below any growth and be expected to produce new buds from old wood. Pines, for the most part, will die if you chop below any shoots. You must allow for a new leader.

Norm

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Re: Top pruning of mikawa black pine to shorten height of tr

Uuugghhh so much reading on soil. I think I can handle its soil needs however, when It's time of course. And I get now the whole thing about taper and growing sucker branches to help knot and twist the trunk along side making it thicker. So I'm gonna let it just grow a lil wild. I picked out a good sunny spot with mid afternoon shade. I hope y'all will still advise me when it's decandling time as I've never done it. Thanks every body I really do appreciate the advice. I will post regularly on the progress of the lil guy or gal.

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Re: Top pruning of mikawa black pine to shorten height of tr

I found another JPB I would like to purchase (see pic ). Of course I know better than to start chopping on but I would like to bend the trunk on it like my other tree while its still young and flexible. Only problem is afraid to do it. I have tried in the past to put dramatic bends in a plant and have broken it both times I've tried. So I'm asking you guys the best way to go about this. I know some needles will have to be removed to allow for the wire. Is this something that should be done over some time to get the shape I want? I have read that its easier on a dry tree but how do get your tree dry enough with out killing it, and it seems to me it would be easier while it was moist. I've bent wood for shop projects and its a lot easier to bend after its been steamed or soaked in water but that is pre dried wood. I don't know that's why I'm asking you guys. Any way thanks all input would be appreciated.
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Re: Top pruning of mikawa black pine to shorten height of tr

Duhjoker,

Can't say I've wired any of my Pines yet. Brent Walston (Evergreen Gardenworks) prefers introducing movement through pruning and so far I have followed his advice. If you simply bend the trunk you have no taper. By pruning to a lower branch you get the movement and taper, both are important in creating a credible bonsai.

This is not to say that you should not wire it, others do, but if you do remember that only the first few inches will likely ever be a part of a finished design. Also, getting new buds to break low is imperative.

In the book 'Pines' from Stone Lantern it is suggested that initial wiring be preformed in late winter or early spring of the second year and be left on long enough to bite into the trunk. This is intended to help thicken the trunk. Over the coming years these initial wire marks will fade.

Norm

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Re: Top pruning of mikawa black pine to shorten height of tr

These JBP appear to be two to three years old already so they are ready for wiring and yes I was hoping to make the bend as low as I can. I understand about taper and if make the bend too high ill never get that look of a natural looking tree. Also I want to leave as many needles as possible so I have the chance of creating sacrifice or what I call sucker branches to add to the texture and overall knottiness. I'm just worried about the actual bending of the trunk itself. The supplier is cheap enough but I'd rather not kill anything any way. I'm hoping to take care of my trees as long as I live so I do have plenty of time. I can wait till late winter or spring to wire also. What ever you reccomend. If there's some online lit that I'm missing please send a link.

Also I'm told JBP need full sun and I give mine 3/4 sun cause of the way our property faces I can't find a good spot. Any way I was wondering what you do about rain. My junipers I leave in covered shade so I don't have to worry about it, but should I put my JBP under cover with my junipers or is all right to leave the JBP out.

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Re: Top pruning of mikawa black pine to shorten height of tr

Duhjoker,

I keep both Pines and Junipers in as much sun as my location permits. As far as rain goes, I don't concern myself with it other than to adjust my watering if required. The only species that I shield from rain is Chinese Elm because they are prone to a fungal disease if the foliage is kept damp.

Norm

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Re: Top pruning of mikawa black pine to shorten height of tr

Ok after days of exhausting reading and research I still cannot find anything on propagating japanese black pine bonsai from seedling to finished product. Please don't get me wrong, I do not plan on doing anything to my trees till they are ready. I just believe in doing all the research humanly possible and being totally prepared for what I need to do in the future. There's plenty of articles and videos on training and pruning and decandling but I cannot find anything on how exactly to turn your tree to a bonsai specimen once the tree is ready. Chasnsx's videos are great and informative but he does really big specimens and shows very lil detail as he works and no before and after with his branches and candles. I'm willing to buy a BOOK if it will explain and show me every thing in precise detail and in chronological order of the trees life. I've read and pretty much memorized the basics. I'm tired of reading the same things and not getting the info I need. Please guys I don't mean to sound rude in my posting I'm just frustrated. Please help!

Thanks norm for all your advice, I've have followed it to a T. Please keep it coming I really appreciate it.

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Re: Top pruning of mikawa black pine to shorten height of tr

Also I'm looking for info on pine branch formation from the trunk. How exactly are branches formed. I ask my search engine and all I get is info on banks and crap. This info would help me immensely. Thank you.

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Re: Top pruning of mikawa black pine to shorten height of tr

Duhjoker,

The Pine book from Stone Lantern that I mentioned earlier deals with various aspects of growing and training both Japanese White Pines and Japanese Black Pines. One chapter deals specifically with starting JBP from seed.

This chapter goes into detail about how to collect, clean and sow seed. It also describes a process involving the removal of the taproot at a very early stage in order to promote a superior root system. Early wiring is mentioned as well as growing in colanders to provide excellent drainage and increase root ramification. Also shown is several years worth of work on the seedlings. This is the best book on Pines that I have seen.

As far as branches go, any bud has the potential of becoming either a finished branch or a sacrifice. This is why it is so important to encourage and preserve low buds/shoots.

Norm

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Re: Top pruning of mikawa black pine to shorten height of tr

I think I might have a some kind of pest in the soil of one of my JBP. I have been noticing what looks like places with loose dirt like an insect has been burrowing in my soil. I keep packing these places down when I water but they keep appearing. Today when I noticed it, instead of mashing it back down in the soil I took a spoon and scraped these bits if loose dirt particles out so I could examine it but I didn't see anything abnormal. And the only holes I'm seeing are where I stick tooth picks in the soil to gauge the moisture levels.

I've looked online for pine pests that burrow in the soil and I'm not seeing anything. I'm kinda worried, I lost all my plants two years ago to spidermites. There wasn't anyone near me that carried the pesticide so I had to order it and by the time it got here my plants were gone. So I want to catch any damaging pests now.

If the loose particles appear again I will take some pics so you can see what I'm talking about or you may know already.

Thanks Norm I will check out the books you prescribed.

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Re: Top pruning of mikawa black pine to shorten height of tr

Please post pics if it happens again.

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Re: Top pruning of mikawa black pine to shorten height of tr

Since I have never noticed this phenomena happening during the day with my eye on it do I thought I would check it just a few minutes ago while its had plenty of darkness and lo and behold it happened. It almost looks like clumps of eggs or maybe poo. The first pic ( the best pic ) shows a finger hole like depression with this stuff in it. And the second pic shows a pile of this mystery stuff covering a fallen needle.
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Re: Top pruning of mikawa black pine to shorten height of tr

2nd photo
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Re: Top pruning of mikawa black pine to shorten height of tr

3rd photo. Although you can't see the detail the particles that make up the clumps are almost purely symmetrical.
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Re: Top pruning of mikawa black pine to shorten height of tr

Duhjoker,

Try these images and see if you think they are similar.
Earthworm castings.

Norm

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Re: Top pruning of mikawa black pine to shorten height of tr

Yes thank you!! The second photo in the que was what it looks like. Lol, now I feel a lil stupid worrying about earth worms. I looked up earth worm castings after seeing the pics and it says that the castings I'm seeing are good for all kinds of needed nutrients and some folks make tea to water their plants with. So these are good things I'm seeing? If I'm wrong please correct me cause I don't want to lose my plants. Any way thanks Norm.

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Re: Top pruning of mikawa black pine to shorten height of tr

Duhjoker,

If indeed they are Earthworms then it is nothing to panic about but I remove them whenever I encounter them. I don't imagine that the castings do any good with regards the free draining environment that we strive for.

Norm

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