100 Year Old Pine

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It does seem a little simple for the tree they are working on.:eek: Perhaps it is similar to needle plucking to induce back budding? I wish I could understand Japanese as there is probably something missed in the translation.
 

grouper52

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It does seem a little simple for the tree they are working on.:eek: Perhaps it is similar to needle plucking to induce back budding? I wish I could understand Japanese as there is probably something missed in the translation.
There is no need to make it more complicated than it is: That's really all you need to do. I know this because this is what Dan Robinson figured out on his own years ago simply by studying how pine trees grew. He has about a hundred two needle pines in his bonsai collection, another 10-20 large, old landscape pines in the ground at his 7 acre Elandan Gardens, and he makes the rounds yearly to prune old pines he put in people's yards on landscape jobs as long as 30 years ago. He sort of chuckles at the complicated machinations traditionally taught, and he does none of it once a tree is established. Certainly he will continue to refine the shape of a tree by allowing some areas to grow freely for a while if need be, but otherwise this is all he does for established pines, and he's done it every year for decades, and his trees are spectacular.

The only "secret" is exactly when to do it, and that depends on the climate. Here, he has found that doing it during the several weeks starting July 15 each year works best, creating the shortest needles I've seen on pines, with stunning effect. He trims right down to the first old needle. All of it. This forces the tree to set back buds for the next year, and it does it at a time when the tree has depleted all its energy for the year. The result is that the new back buds lack the sort of vigor needed to produce new needles of any length the next year, and they come out incredibly short. You can see any areas where he (or especially I when I've helped him) didn't quite cut all the way back - the needles the next year are the usual length, and stand out markedly. If done right, over several years as the old needles drop off, the foliage is very tight and small, creating a much more convincing image in a bonsai.

The change in the length of the foliage seen in my recent post of the Scots pine is simply the result of several years of this technique alone. Vic and Ang3lfir3 have done a lot more of this than I have while they were helping Dan every weekend at Elandan, and maybe they can say more.
 
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Every JBP at Elandan Gardens is approached in this method. I’ve posted on it many times over the years, but it must just fall in the category of “too good to be true” to be acceptable, despite the evidence I have provided.

What is important to know about it, is that each tree has to be evaluated for it’s fitness in deciding how far to go with it in a given season. So some trees with enormous candle extension and obvious vigor are indeed taken down to only a couple old needles being left on the end of a sprig. Others may only have half the amount of old needles taken off, and if the old needles were long, they’ll be cut in half as well. (It reduces the energy the needle can produce without taking it away entirely.) Some may have only new growth taken off and all the previous year’s growth left on, because the tree may have had a weak spring/early summer. (In all likelihood the tree will produce vigorously the next year, and the tree will be taken all the way back down to the oldest needles the next year.) Some branches can be left alone entirely if they seem weak.

This is also balanced out with a feeding schedule that ends shortly after this process is taking place. You don’t want to provide the tree with energy to produce long needles when you are specifically trying to deprive it of that ability so that the needles will not lengthen.

All of this induces vesicular budding back along the branches (along the bark, and not necessarily at the base of an existing pair of needles). Those buds are let alone to develop until they get to a size which requires similar treatment as the rest of the tree. The needle length that can be achieved by allowing a tree to expend its energy in the spring/early summer, and then forcing it to extend again can be as small as ¼ -½ an inch. It’s an amazingly simple process, and is NOT too good to be true.
;)

Kindest regards,

Victrinia
 

grouper52

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What is important to know about it, is that each tree has to be evaluated for it’s fitness in deciding how far to go with it in a given season. So some trees with enormous candle extension and obvious vigor are indeed taken down to only a couple old needles being left on the end of a sprig. Others may only have half the amount of old needles taken off, and if the old needles were long, they’ll be cut in half as well. (It reduces the energy the needle can produce without taking it away entirely.) Some may have only new growth taken off and all the previous year’s growth left on, because the tree may have had a weak spring/early summer. (In all likelihood the tree will produce vigorously the next year, and the tree will be taken all the way back down to the oldest needles the next year.) Some branches can be left alone entirely if they seem weak.

Victrinia
Very good clarification, which I overlooked because my trees are all quite vigorous, as are each and every one of their branches! :D:D And if you believe that, I have some prime real estate I can sell you cheap . . . . :)

Vic, can you clarify why this will not work with Ponderosas? Thanks.

Will
 

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.

The only "secret" is exactly when to do it, and that depends on the climate. Here, he has found that doing it during the several weeks starting July 15 each year works best, .
Hi Grouper52, it is very important point. You're talking about the established tree. How about the one is still young and in training. What is a good time to prune it? Thanks

What is important to know about it, is that each tree has to be evaluated for it’s fitness in deciding how far to go with it in a given season. So some trees with enormous candle extension and obvious vigor are indeed taken down to only a couple old needles being left on the end of a sprig. Others may only have half the amount of old needles taken off, and if the old needles were long, they’ll be cut in half as well. (It reduces the energy the needle can produce without taking it away entirely.) Some may have only new growth taken off and all the previous year’s growth left on, because the tree may have had a weak spring/early summer. (In all likelihood the tree will produce vigorously the next year, and the tree will be taken all the way back down to the oldest needles the next year.) Some branches can be left alone entirely if they seem weak.
Victrinia
Hi Victrinia, thanks for bring up the important fact. It is a way to treat the long leggy branches to get more compact besides grafting. Bonhe
 

tom tynan

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I am guessing from the previous posts, and from my own experience, that on certain types of Pines; JBP, Scots, perhaps Lodgepole that Dan R. and his students are pruning deeper back on the branch and well past the dominant terminal bud; they are getting back budding as a result. A Ponderosa Pine is not as vigorous and does not seem to react the same way. It can be tricked into back budding - using a technique developed by Larry Jackel and called the "Fall Ponderosa Pine Technique" which results in back budding and reduction of the familiar "lions tail" growth on collected trees. I encourage anyone interested to read more about this in Larry's book 'Ponderosa Pines as Bonsai' where this is well described with good diagrams and examples. I am posting a series from a small collected Ponderosa I have been working on; the time frame is 2 years between the first and last. There is an increase in budding - which creates a denser crown. The needles were trimmed - even in the more recent versions. The Fall technique does work...but not as strongly in successive years, ie. the tree reacts best the first year the technique is used. I am sure there are other Ponderosa collectors who can offer further insights into these techniques, such as my friend Jason G. regards from NY.... Tom
 

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Ang3lfir3

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Tom

We don't treat Ponderosa the same as any of the other pines that is correct. Larry is a great friend of Dan's. Will (grouper52) and I have been collecting with the both of them recently and I can tell you Larry is a great guy. The technique you are talking about was developed by both Daniel and Larry over the years. Larry's version might be different but we simply remove the large terminal bud on the Ponderosa. We can begin doing it now or later in the fall. Removing this bud seems to invigorate the tree early on and cause some back budding. We also trim the needles for both scale and to reduce the amount of food the tree can produce. Sounds like I need to snag Dan's copy of Larry's book (hey im unemployed at the moment so I can be cheap) and read up on the details that Larry lays out.
 

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Hi Grouper52, it is very important point. You're talking about the established tree. How about the one is still young and in training. What is a good time to prune it? Thanks. Bonhe
It depends what you are trying to accomplish with the pruning. Hard pruning (trunk and major branches) is best done when the tree is dormant - late fall to mid-winter - otherwise it will lose a great deal of sap, and with it, vigor. Minor pruning of small, older branches can be done anytime, but I'm in the habit (mostly for the sake of convenience) of doing it mostly when I prune off the new growth, July 15th - first week in August.

Tom - Great tree! And I think you have answered my question: it seems the technique WILL work on Pondies, but if done year after year their vigor is not great enough to sustain it. I'm familiar with Larry's technique, and with Walter Pall's approach to Ponderosa as well, and they seem more applicable to this species. Thanks.

Will
 

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It depends what you are trying to accomplish with the pruning. Hard pruning (trunk and major branches) is best done when the tree is dormant - late fall to mid-winter - otherwise it will lose a great deal of sap, and with it, vigor. Minor pruning of small, older branches can be done anytime, but I'm in the habit (mostly for the sake of convenience) of doing it mostly when I prune off the new growth, July 15th - first week in August.
Will
Hi Will, sorry for confusion. I talk about the best time to prune off the new growth on the young material. Any idea? Thanks. Bonhe
 

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Bonhe

Are you asking about young field grown material that is not ready for bonsai training? In that case We don't prune them. Daniel field grows his material keeping after the lower most valuable branches and lets the top growth grow freely. At longer intervals some trees are topped and a new leader is chosen this is only after many years. Some of Daniel's pines have been in the ground growing for nearly 50 years (with short interludes of being moved). If you are after attempting to create some additional back budding in younger material that is being field grown my suggestion would be to treat the lower growth much the same as once they are established in a bonsai pot. The only caveat I can think of would be that by leaving the long leaders to grow freely they might usurp some of the energy from the lower branching. It is important to time pruning of leaders until after Sept as this is the time that pines put on the majority of their wood. Otherwise you loose any gains you might have received from that years growth.

I can't be certain of this timing on lower growth not can I be certain of what effect it will have on the trees. But it is worth investigating.

Hope that helps a little and I hope Will can shine a little light on how he field grows pines. I know he has a very nice Pine patch.
 

grouper52

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Hi Bonhe,

Ang3lfire's correct. Trees in the ground are largely left alone as long as at least some of the precious lower branches retain vigor - not a problem with JBPs usually, or many others, but with some species it is, and the growth needs to be forced back into the lower branches by pruning the leader and distal parts of the other branches from time to time. At the other extreme, trees in bonsai pots or past the initial styling in training pots are usually treated as in the video, unless I have some area that needs further development.

In between are some trees in nursery pots or training pots. For the most part, depending on what I'm trying to accomplish - free growth vs back budding - and how far along they are, I will treat them like I do a tree in the ground. The technique in the video is for maintaining an established tree, mostly cosmetic (needle length) and inhibitory (branch/branchlet length), and except as one possible method for inducing back budding it has little other value in a developing tree, where needle length is not important cosmetically, and where full, vigorous growth is usually desired.

Hope that helps further.

Will
 

bonhe

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Bonhe

Are you asking about young field grown material that is not ready for bonsai training? In that case We don't prune them. Daniel field grows his material keeping after the lower most valuable branches and lets the top growth grow freely. At longer intervals some trees are topped and a new leader is chosen this is only after many years. Some of Daniel's pines have been in the ground growing for nearly 50 years (with short interludes of being moved). If you are after attempting to create some additional back budding in younger material that is being field grown my suggestion would be to treat the lower growth much the same as once they are established in a bonsai pot. The only caveat I can think of would be that by leaving the long leaders to grow freely they might usurp some of the energy from the lower branching. It is important to time pruning of leaders until after Sept as this is the time that pines put on the majority of their wood. Otherwise you loose any gains you might have received from that years growth.

I can't be certain of this timing on lower growth not can I be certain of what effect it will have on the trees. But it is worth investigating.

Hope that helps a little and I hope Will can shine a little light on how he field grows pines. I know he has a very nice Pine patch.
Hi Ang3lfir3, good point, with unestablished JBP, we need to prune the new growth in september if we need to do it. Thanks

Hi Bonhe,

Ang3lfire's correct. Trees in the ground are largely left alone as long as at least some of the precious lower branches retain vigor - not a problem with JBPs usually, or many others, but with some species it is, and the growth needs to be forced back into the lower branches by pruning the leader and distal parts of the other branches from time to time. At the other extreme, trees in bonsai pots or past the initial styling in training pots are usually treated as in the video, unless I have some area that needs further development.

In between are some trees in nursery pots or training pots. For the most part, depending on what I'm trying to accomplish - free growth vs back budding - and how far along they are, I will treat them like I do a tree in the ground. The technique in the video is for maintaining an established tree, mostly cosmetic (needle length) and inhibitory (branch/branchlet length), and except as one possible method for inducing back budding it has little other value in a developing tree, where needle length is not important cosmetically, and where full, vigorous growth is usually desired.

Hope that helps further.

Will
Thanks Will. Bonhe
 

Ang3lfir3

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Hi Ang3lfir3, good point, with unestablished JBP, we need to prune the new growth in september if we need to do it. Thanks
More specifically _After_ Sept. This won't of course give you much in the way of back budding (if any) which is why I only commented on the removal of leaders.
 

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This has been a great conversation and very eye opening. I have had a theory that all I needed to do to my pines is what you all describe.....but kept getting confused by all the complicated pine techniques I have seen on the net and read in books. Thanks everyone!
 
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