Austrian Black Pine-- timeline

Atom#28

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Hello!

I bought a few ABP's for $10 each from a big box store this winter. 30" tall, about 2" trunks at the current soil line. They appear quite healthy, though they are all pretty severely rootbound. I don't want to make any hasty decisions, but also having a tough time finding information re: the best time to perform certain tasks. I live in zone 6, 4 typical seasons, winter is a thing right now.

Part A: should I plan to repot this spring and work on the roots first, let 'em rest for a season or two, THEN do branch selection --OR-- Select branches, de-whorl first, let em rest, then repot????

Part B: Assuming the trees are generally healthy....

1) best time of the year to do structural pruning / branch selection/trunk chops?
2) best time of the year to repot?

I have used the search function without success. Can someone help?

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Atom#28

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OH, followup: Is there another pine that may be a good "model" for how to treat Austrian Black Pine? The more I read, the more I think I should treat it like a Japanese White Pine..... Does that sound even close to correct?
 

0soyoung

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Well, the 'white pine' treatment advice is pretty much the same thing as the 'like you would any pine' treatment = no insight really. As you can see, they back bud just by growing vigorously. They can be treated a lot like a JBP, but they are much slower to respond, so you'll have to do it earlier than with your JBP. Usually they just pop fascicular buds for me, however, I've not gotten them figured out yet.

I bought a couple similar to yours for a similar price a few years ago. They grew like gangbusters for me. One jumped up to about 6 feet tall, so I just bent it all up and kept the (inch-ish thick) main stem as a thickening sacrifice that I reduced through 2019 and will eliminate next spring. It has been huge fun - they are very bendy, even when pretty thick.
With the other one was almost as big when I tried to air layer the trunk. After 2 years punted on that non-sense and then almost killed it, but now it is bouncing back --> they are pretty tough.

So, I suggest the standard development recipe.
  • pop them into pond-baskets/colanders/grow-pots or in the ground
  • choose a leader and let it run
  • keep low branches exposed to sun
Then in fairly short order you've got lots of options to make a standard zig-zag, play bendy-bendy, etc. You can always fiddle with some branches to see how they respond to decandling/pruning - it isn't necessary to do the entire tree to find out how it will respond.

enjoy!
 

Pitoon

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Well, the 'white pine' treatment advice is pretty much the same thing as the 'like you would any pine' treatment = no insight really. As you can see, they back bud just by growing vigorously. They can be treated a lot like a JBP, but they are much slower to respond, so you'll have to do it earlier than with your JBP. Usually they just pop fascicular buds for me, however, I've not gotten them figured out yet.

I bought a couple similar to yours for a similar price a few years ago. They grew like gangbusters for me. One jumped up to about 6 feet tall, so I just bent it all up and kept the (inch-ish thick) main stem as a thickening sacrifice that I reduced through 2019 and will eliminate next spring. It has been huge fun - they are very bendy, even when pretty thick.
With the other one was almost as big when I tried to air layer the trunk. After 2 years punted on that non-sense and then almost killed it, but now it is bouncing back --> they are pretty tough.

So, I suggest the standard development recipe.
  • pop them into pond-baskets/colanders/grow-pots or in the ground
  • choose a leader and let it run
  • keep low branches exposed to sun
Then in fairly short order you've got lots of options to make a standard zig-zag, play bendy-bendy, etc. You can always fiddle with some branches to see how they respond to decandling/pruning - it isn't necessary to do the entire tree to find out how it will respond.

enjoy!

Can you post a pic of the one that you bent all up? I've been tempted to pick one up myself.
 

Atom#28

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@0soyoung Thank you very much for this thoughtful response. I’m excited to get started with these guys. Since I got 3, maybe it’s a good opportunity to experiment. I wanna cut some unnecessary branches, is it safe to do that in winter?
 

0soyoung

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I’m excited to get started with these guys. Since I got 3, maybe it’s a good opportunity to experiment. I wanna cut some unnecessary branches, is it safe to do that in winter?
Yes, it is okay. A pine can be pruned most anytime, When it is cold, there is little biological activity; hence the tree cannot compartmentalize (CODIT) until it warms up (above 40F for several days).

Since you have 3, I suggest that you also think about a challenge to make a shohin. Key is having low branching. @Brian Van Fleet has a thread about a JBP corker that he reluctantly made into a fabulous shohin. The only argument I have against this idea is that I haven't noticed (yet?) that p. nigra needle size can be readily reduced (that's a triple dog-dare! 🤣). Anyway, if one of them turns out to have some nice very low branching (well under 8 inches from the soil level), take a serious shot to make a shohin.

Can you post a pic of the one that you bent all up? I've been tempted to pick one up myself.
I started these in 2014, as best I recall. They were about the same size as @Atom#28's are now. Here is #2 in Jul2016 PN_2016-07-10_1.jpg. You can see the bent trunk in front and the sacrificial end of it going off, up and to the right. And here is in a pond basket a smidge over a year later (rotated a bid anti-clockwise), in Sep17 PN_2017-09-10_1.jpg. The fun I've had just doesn't photograph well ;)


btw, I probably exaggerated saying 6 feet = emotional impressions and not actual measurements (5'10" maybe 🤔:D).
 

Adair M

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Well, the 'white pine' treatment advice is pretty much the same thing as the 'like you would any pine' treatment = no insight really. As you can see, they back bud just by growing vigorously. They can be treated a lot like a JBP, but they are much slower to respond, so you'll have to do it earlier than with your JBP. Usually they just pop fascicular buds for me, however, I've not gotten them figured out yet.

I bought a couple similar to yours for a similar price a few years ago. They grew like gangbusters for me. One jumped up to about 6 feet tall, so I just bent it all up and kept the (inch-ish thick) main stem as a thickening sacrifice that I reduced through 2019 and will eliminate next spring. It has been huge fun - they are very bendy, even when pretty thick.
With the other one was almost as big when I tried to air layer the trunk. After 2 years punted on that non-sense and then almost killed it, but now it is bouncing back --> they are pretty tough.

So, I suggest the standard development recipe.
  • pop them into pond-baskets/colanders/grow-pots or in the ground
  • choose a leader and let it run
  • keep low branches exposed to sun
Then in fairly short order you've got lots of options to make a standard zig-zag, play bendy-bendy, etc. You can always fiddle with some branches to see how they respond to decandling/pruning - it isn't necessary to do the entire tree to find out how it will respond.

enjoy!
They’re treated like “Japanese White Pine” because they are “single flush” pines, not “double flush” like Japanese Black Pine.

Don’t decandle them. They won’t reliably send out a second flush of growth. To control the needle length and develop short internodes, don’t fertilize in spring. Begin fertilizing mid to late summer.
 

Wires_Guy_wires

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Atom#28

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Any updates on this?
Update
I decided I needed a “classic” looking pine bonsai tree. This is one of the originals as it looks today. They respond SO well to wiring, and are incredibly flexible. I got the needles to reduce by about 50 percent already. This tree is one of my entries in the ongoing 3 year Christmas tree contest, too.

Before this fall’s work:
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Here it is today. My first time doing any needle reduction work. Now she rests and recovers for another season. Hope I wasn’t too aggressive:

50F5F7A5-2DB2-4EBA-A48D-C52672C50F60.jpeg
 

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