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Joined: Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:32 am

Japanese black pine first pruning.

Hi guys

I bought a couple black pines with twisted trunks three yeats ago and ive bern letting them grow in the garden to get thicker trunks.

Any way one of them is ready to go ahead and start pruning major branches since we are within that time.

The cut i want to make is the main trunk after the densest, about a third or more of the trunk to shorten it to its final height.

Heres a pic of it from last spring.........


Its taller and thicker now and perfect to prune that branch but how exactly do cut it?

Its got several leader branches on it but which do i choose to keep and how do i prepare them and still make the tree look nice?

Posts: 11269
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Japanese black pine first pruning.

It is still young. bonsai trees don't look that good with the terminus cut off unless you are planning on doing some shaping and stripping, which is for me not a beginner thing to do. To control height I usually pinch the tips to encourage branching as it is growing rather than let it grow and cut it down. If you cut the terminus you want to pretty much only cut off the tip not one third of the tree. That way you can still keep the pyrimidal shape. While the plant is in the ground branches can be encouraged to grow where you want them.
I found this blog by a student working on his black pine bonsai. It had some helpful tips. Notice the size and gnarliness of the trunk. This tree is probably 5-10 years old before it was put in the pot.
https://peterteabonsai.wordpress.com/ta ... e-styling/
This is a video on how to start a bonsai from nursery stock. It did not show the proceess for selecting the tree, but basically you want a healthy tree with good growth and and interesting trunk. What you do with it will be different for every tree. It is hard to describe but when you look at the tree you should have in mind a vision of what you want it to be. You should consider flow, motion, and direction. When large branches are cut back, you don't want to see a cut off stub so usually it is stripped and tapered to give the illusion that it broke off naturally. You need to know what kind of tree you have and how much bark can be removed without harm.
This is another good video on selecting rootstock
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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Posts: 5122
Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

Re: Japanese black pine first pruning.


Don't be too anxious to cut your leader, it is what will drive the thickening of your trunk. This is known as a sacrifice leader. I have some Pines that I have been working on for about a decade , one having a leader that is about 40" tall. I am just now considering reducing the trunk.

The trick is to keep your lower branches viable while still growing out the top. Eventually those low branches will form the beginnings of your bonsai.

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