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applestar
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Does Norfork Island Pine make good Bonsai subject?

After seeing post after post of Junipers are NOT indoor Bonsai threads, I get it. :lol:

But we were given a cluster planted Norfork Island Pine that came dressed up as a Christmas tree with glitter, ribbons, and cheap little ornaments. Last spring, I up potted it into a pot twice as big as what it came in, and it responded well.

I was thinking what to do with it this coming season -- plan on growing it bigger and use as indoor Christmas tree? -- Kids enjoyed putting itty bitty ornaments on it this year, or limit its size?

It will need to be thickened further but level and type of care may be influenced by whether it can eventually be styled into a Bonsai or not.

Googled for images but only ones showing up are young cluster planted trees planted in Bonsai trays. (Do you suppose they all started life as holiday gifts?) Anybody have links to any good inspirational Norfork Island Pine bonsai examples?

I have to dig up the photo I took of them, but last year at a garden center, I saw some big ones -- 7 or 8 ft tall -- that had their lower branches chopped off and styled into a sort of palm tree shape. If you didn't know what they were, I guess they could be passed off as an interesting indoor/office plant, but I thought they looked rather comical. :lol:

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bonsaiboy
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Gee, I'm kind of glad you asked this question; I thought I was alone in the world when it came to bonsaiing this tree! The answer is yes, they do make good bonsai. However, there are certain principals that apply to this tree that you should be aware of before starting.

First, Norfolk Island Pine trees have a rather unusual characteristic of being unable to generate secondary trunks from branches. That means that if you cut the trunk off (truncate the trunk :lol: ) in any one area, then you will need to wait for the buds in that area to take off, rather than just wiring a branch to become the new trunk. These buds will grow more trunks, so just cut off the ones you don't wish to grow (as more than one new trunk will result from this).

Second, branches that do not start off thick (those sparse ones at the bottom) will never grow secondary branches. Therefore, if you want to grow out branches at the bottom that will continue branching, you will need to sever the trunk at those branches, and wait for the budding to take place. The new formed trunks should sprout secondary branching branches.

Third, the long internodes between branch whorls can be shortened by severing the trunk, and waiting for the new trunks to form from the buds. The first sets of branches from these new trunks will be in close proximity. Just continue to do this every time the internodes get long, and you will have a nice branching pattern. This technique also helps with taper.

Fourth, wherever you do decide to sever the trunk, make sure there are green branches of some sort at that level. Otherwise, the tree will die, as with most conifers, Norfolk Island Pines cannot survive a full defoliation.

And lastly, these trees do not take well to root pruning. Therefore, it is advisable to do this in winter, and preferably after some amount of branch pruning.

Hope this helps!
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bonsaiboy
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[url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=20773//url]Here[/url] is a post I made about a year back on this forum concerning my first attempt at a Norfolk Island Pine bonsai. I know it is pathetic, and that is because my understanding of the growth characteristics were still in their infancy at the time. Now I have further refined my understanding, and I have begun anew, severing the trunk where you see those first pairs of branches. The tree has not grown much since, because it is currently in a dormant state, however I will try to get pictures tomorrow of the multiple trunks coming out of a single area, as to demonstrate how its back budding works.
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applestar
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Thanks, bonsaiboy :D
I don't recall that other thread. Maybe I missed it last year. Youch.
Sounds like you've been learning a lot about this species. Thanks so much for the detailed explanation. Looking forward to the update photos. 8)

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froggy
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Ha, i got a little one too - which was actually a bunch of tiny ones...
I put them into a half-hearted group planting for now (they have hardly any roots, and the stems are less than pencil thick), since i couldnt make up my mind if it was bonsai material or not....
but maybe i will try to grow them out....
thing with those is, they were probably never intended to survive much past christmas, so i am still waiting for a sign of growth to see they are still alive....
;)

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bonsaiboy
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So here is a picture of the entire tree, with green only at the top (sorry, I should have rotated it 90˚ clockwise)...
[url=https://img8.imageshack.us/i/maintree.jpg/][img]https://img8.imageshack.us/img8/396/maintree.jpg[/img][/url]

And here is an up-close picture of the area producing multiple trunks...
[url=https://img4.imageshack.us/i/upclosek.jpg/][img]https://img4.imageshack.us/img4/5261/upclosek.jpg[/img][/url]
At some point I plan on trimming away the excess trunks, so just one remains. I am going to wait for them to grow out a tad more before I do so.

I apologize for the quality of the images. My digital camera wasn't working, so I had to use my phone's camera.
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Auballagh
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I am working with NIP as Bonsai material

Hello All,
I did a Google search, and was surprised to see some people interested in the Norfolk Island Pine (NIP) as a Bonsai tree. I have been working with a couple of these trees for the past two years, and have been modestly pleased with the results.
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For my first effort, I got three, pencil thick trees and just basically sort of braided/wound them together. I followed up with a wrapping of raffia and then rubber, electrical tape on top of that, to bind up my braid job, and ensure the trunks would remain tightly bound together. Already I've seen going into their second spring, that the three individual trees have all started to graft their trunks together. The root base has a nice spread of three, radially spread root systems out from a now fairly decent-sized trunk. I'm already wiring each of the three trunks individually as the new branches from the now single growing, main trunk. It's going to take some years, but this tree already shows signs of having nice potential as interesting Bonsai material.
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For my second tree (experiment), I found the biggest trunk I could purchase over Christmas. Then, when late spring arrived and the tree was growing vigorously outdoors I did the drastic step of a full trunk chop about 5 inches from the base of the trunk. I thought I had killed it, because it took almost two months to finally get some initial, super tiny buds where I'd cut it. I'll be darned if the thing didn't grow out four tiny branches! Now, almost a year later, the little tree is coming along in quite healthy fashion. It looks a lot like a miniature, tiny palm tree, or something. This tree has years of development ahead of it. But, if those four branches continue to grow out, it may turn out to be a decent Bonsai tree after all. Is a trunk chop the same thing you wound up doing with your tree, Bonsaiboy?
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I will post pictures of what these two little trees look like now, in my next post.
Plus, I have a 22 year old NIP, that has been grown in my house as a house plant. Unfortunately, this beast is over 7 feet tall now, with two very powerful trunks, and weighs over a hundred pounds, potted up! Whew.... time to downsize into a Bonsai? Think I'll be able to convince my wife to let me trunk chop this thing? :twisted:

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froggy
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Accidents happen :P maybe doggy sit a st Bernard and when the wife gets home, the trunk chop was 'the only way to save it' ;)

Just kidding... Not sure how they take to air layering, but it could be a way to keep your tree and use it's base too...
;)

Auballagh
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Pics of Norfolk Island Pine Development

As promised, here are some pics of my NIP in pre-bonsai development. A LOT of growing ahead for these little ones before they (may) amount to something.
It's the journey getting there that counts though, right? :)

The first one up, is my three-tree grafting project,

[img]https://i56.tinypic.com/8znpkg.jpg[/img]

A better view of the three 'branches' (former trunks) with the nice, 3-root spread/nebari at the base,

[img]https://i54.tinypic.com/qzq3pt.jpg[/img]
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And then we have my little 'trunk-chopper'. The base of the trunk does a nice little dance down into the roots. If I decided to go for the tropic palm-tree look, this little thing would be all over it! :lol:

[img]https://i56.tinypic.com/2iupyj8.jpg[/img]

A better view of this little tree, with the four new, little branches pulled back out of the way of the cut trunk,

[img]https://i54.tinypic.com/2qdbeiv.jpg[/img]
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And lastly, since this business has massive trunks and powerful root structure as huge visual components, that are absolutely sought out for successful, interesting bonsai.....

[img]https://i51.tinypic.com/2whi0xk.jpg[/img]

Quarter placed at the base of my wife's NIP for size reference. I'm seriously liking that air layer idea you posted up Froggy! But, to demonstrate 'proof-of-concept', I'm gonna have to pull off a successful air-layer on another experiment tree - before my wife will let me have a go at her 'baby'....... :roll:
Wish me luck!

Saint Jonny
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Styles

So I've ordered a little NIP off of ebay, hopefully it'll arrive on Tuesday. It's only 11cm tall and I'm reckoning it will be a long term Bonsai project.

I've only ever seen the ones that look like mini-palm trees and I find them rather unsatisfying. Any suggestions for style of Bonsai that these trees will fit well? I'm wondering if it would fit a cascade or semi-cascade style? Does anyone know?

Saint Jonny
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Here's what I did to my Norfolk Island Pine:

[img]https://micradendra.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/img_5091.jpg[/img]

I'm not sure it'll survive this... I'm certainly not holding my breath! I thought it's roots were going to be bigger than they were!
My blog: Micra Dendra (Greek for little trees!)

TomM
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For Applestar and all others who aspire to use Norfolk Island Pine (NIP) as bonsai -we had a very nice one at our club show recently. This is not my tree, so I can't tell you much about it, but here's a look - see photo # 4 in this group -
https://mvbonsai.com/index.php?page=Photos

I'll try to get some more info on it.

Tom

aziz
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Re: Does Norfork Island Pine make good Bonsai subject?

Hi friends
I bought this norfolk Island pine tree in small pot a week ago here in Iran Tehran city ,it had little root ball and needs not to prun the root , i just change the pot ,first divided the pot at 1/3 with a hard plastic putting some sand at bottom and the rest covered with cactus soil and planted two cactus on this part, then put on bonsai soil at the rest 2/3 of the pot and planted the NIP ,then decorate the pot surface with colored sand.The nursery seller told me that this NIP grown from the seeds. Thanks Aziz
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tomc
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Re: Does Norfork Island Pine make good Bonsai subject?

It is a tender conifer. But it is neither all that amenable to top pruning or very hot conditions. They were just not adequate to my need as bonsai. I might try a pithecellobium in the tropics. Its a legume and not a conifer, but they live in the heat.
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