Black Pine Seedling Cuttings

markyscott

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Here's an inexpensive and rewarding project. There are lots of resources on this - I think that most of them follow the method published in "Matsuo, K., Black Pine from Seed, Bonsai Today #20, pp. 39-50". Here are some great links:

Black Pine from Seed
A Few Pine Seeds, Six Years Later
How to Create Seedling Cuttings - Japanese Black Pine
Planting Pine Seeds
Repotting 1 Year-Old Black Pine Seedlings
Growing Mikawa Japanese Black Pine from Seed

Motivated by these articles and many more, I have started several batches of Japanese Black Pine seedling cuttings. Obtaining seed is very inexpensive - I get mine from Rare Exotic Seeds. There prices are really good - $6.80 for 500 seeds - and they've been a reliable source. If you try this, I recommend that you get a lot. Some won't sprout, some will die after you do the cutting, some will die the first winter. Then you'll want to pick the strongest of what's left to further develop.

Here's how I've done it.

Scott
 

markyscott

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Sowing the seed

I live in Houston, Tx - that USDA climate zone 8B or 9A depending on what part of town you live in. It's warm here, but we can get occasional freezes in the winter. I have a greenhouse for my tropicals and I start my black pine seeds in there. Because of my climate and the greenhouse, I can start seedlings very early. Some years I've started them as early as January. I think on the example below, I started them a bit later than usual - late February or early March.

I usually start mine in seedling starter trays from Home Depot or Lowes. The ones I buy come with a humidity dome and don't have individual cells. The individual cells are worthless at this stage - I just spread the seeds more or less evenly. I start them in standard seedling starter soil I buy at the box store. Place a layer of soil in the tray and wet it thoroughly. Then spread the seeds and put another layer of soil on top. Moisten it lightly.

I keep it in the greenhouse throughout this stage and monitor it to ensure it stays moist. With the humidity domes, I only have to water it once every couple of weeks. You should start to see sprouts a couple of weeks later. As soon as the seedlings have shed their seed shells and opened the immature first needles (cotyledons), spray with a fungicide. I use Daconil.

After several weeks, you'll have a couple of trays that look like this:
image.jpeg

Scott
 

markyscott

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Prepping the pots

I use 4" plastic pots for the cuttings. I put a drainage layer in the bottom and fill the pot with 1/8"-1/4" bonsai substrate.
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Then moisten thoroughly and make a well in the soil. I use a repurposed screwdriver handle for this - just press it into the soil several inches.
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Scott
 

markyscott

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Prepping the pots

Now fill the well with your seedling starter mix - I mix it with vermiculite. Once it's filled water thoroughly - it'll take longer than you think to completely moisten the soil. It repels water until it's moistened.
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You'll need one for every seedling.
image.jpeg

Scott
 

namnhi

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Scott,
Interesting! I never thought someone like you would be doing this. All the big trees you have doesn't occupied all your time?
NN
 

markyscott

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Making the seedling cuttings

Timing is important on this step. In the Bonsai Today article they instruct you to wait until the stems are purple. I find this to be an unreliable indicator. Watch for the first needles to emerge from the center of the cotelydons. See these?

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This is the perfect time to make the cuttings. Some of the stems are purple, some are green, but when the first true needle emerge it's time. Gently pull the seedlings from the soil.

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Place the seedling on a wooden board and cut the stem all the way through with an exacto knife.

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You won't get 100% survival rate. But, believe it or not most will live if you cut it at the right time. If you wait too long or do it too early, survival rates drop quickly. I recall waiting and waiting for the stems to turn purple the first time I did this. They never really did and I ended up waiting way too long - probably had 20% or less survive. But about 80% of this batch did just fine.

Scott
 

markyscott

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Do you stratify or soak seed prior to sowing?

Thanks!
Thanks for the reminder, hemmy! I forgot that part. When you receive your seedlings, put them into a cup of clean water and let them soak for 24 hours. Discard the ones that remain floating on the top - these are not viable. Only keep the ones that have sunk to the bottom. These I roll up in a moistened paper towel. I roll up the paper towel roll in aluminum foil and place in the refrigerator until I'm ready to plant them. So I do cold stratify, but I'm not sure how important this is - I think that they might sprout just fine without it. Thanks again for the reminder.

Scott
 

markyscott

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Planting the seedling cuttings

After you've made your cuttings, drop them immediately into some clean water to keep them moist.
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I use a rooting powder. Make a small pile on your cutting board and dip the cut tip of each seedling cutting into the hormone before you plant it.

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With a chopstick, make a small indentation in the moistened soil in the well you've made in the 4" pot, place the seedling in and gently press the soil around it to hold it in place.

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Soon you'll work your way through all the seedlings that are ready. Don't expect them to all push needles at the same time. You may have to go through the seedlings several times on consecutive weeks, pulling the ones that are ready. But soon you'll have some full trays.

image.jpeg

Scott
 

markyscott

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Now it's just a matter of waiting. As I do this in the greenhouse in the winter, I usually apply some bottom heat and place the seedlings under light. When it get's reliably warm I move them out into the sun. Let them adjust over a couple of weeks, but you want them in the full sun as soon as possible. Sun + water + fertilizer = growth. Usually in the first growing season I don't get huge amounts of growth. Some certainly, but I think that they take a season to develop strong roots, but the second season the growth is really strong.

image.jpeg

This is one of last year's seedling cuttings. I made the cutting in April of 2015, so it's about 1 1/2 years old. This year it's already had two flushes and it's set a strong bud. I might get a third flush this year. This winter I'll pot them up into colanders and wire the trunks. They'll go into a coarser soil so that I can water and fertilize more frequently. I'll select a couple of dozen that are exhibiting the strongest growth and give the rest away. That should give me plenty to play with - it's a fun and easy project that costs very little to get started.

Scott
 

AlainK

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I've never tried it myself, but I've read many accounts of people who do it and they usually cut the seedlings where the "white" of the base begins.
 

Anthony

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Mark,

Thanks for taking the time to post all these images.

We used to purchase the seed packs from Japan, via the Bonsai supplier in Texas and Bonsai of Brooklyn [ on Amazon ].
They supplied two types.

There was no need to cold stratify. Maybe the Japanese company did it for the customer ?

Additionally, I saw a comment on Ausbonsai a while ago that the cutting off part on seedlings was less for radial roots
and more for allowing the pine to have the ability to resprout lower down and closer to the root.
We use the closer to the root idea on Tamarinds.
Same type of cut and Tamarinds that easily regrow any where from half an inch to one inch from the base can be had.

Stopped with seeds, when we learnt how to do cuttings.
Good Day
Anthony
 

markyscott

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JBP are known to be strong and vigorous. Have you tried this with single flush or white pines?
I have not. There aren't any that grow reliably in my area. I think that with white pine, they often graft it onto black pin root stock to improve the growth rates.

Scott
 

markyscott

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I've never tried it myself, but I've read many accounts of people who do it and they usually cut the seedlings where the "white" of the base begins.
I've not found that to be critical. In fact, since these are meant to be Shohin trees down the line, it's important to have a low node. So cut the stem short for that case.

Scott
 

jeanluc83

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I did this with pitch pines a couple of years ago. It really is very easy and fun.

To make it even cheaper collect your own seeds. I have collected in late September just as the cones are starting to turn from green to brown. If you wait too the cones will have opened and lost their seeds.

Last year I collected some JWP from a pine at a local business. The cones had already opened but the seeds had dropped on the parking lot below. I collected 70 or so seeds. Of those only about 8 sank when I soaked them and of those 4 grew. I had much better luck with Pitch pine seeds.
 

JoeR

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Interesting Markyscott!

I have done pine cuttings two years in a row now, and It appears that cold stratification DOES help. More of the strat. seeds germinated and were overall stronger and healthier.

Also, I got 100% success rate rooting JBP both years and JRP this year... Maybe just a coincidence? Can't say the same for virginia pine.
 

CWTurner

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What am I missing here? Why are you chopping the roots off such tiny trees? Seems counterproductive.
CW
 

markyscott

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What am I missing here? Why are you chopping the roots off such tiny trees? Seems counterproductive.
CW
Good question CW

Pine seedlings produce a single tap root that grows vigorously downward to provide a good anchor for the tree.

Some time ago, bonsai enthusiasts figured out that cutting the tap root produced a number of lateral roots. The technique was first described in Kinbon magazine and later translated in Bonsai Today #20 (referenced above). As the lateral roots develop, the young trees grew faster, denser, and produced a flared trunk base that is desirable in pine bonsai. That's the goal with these seedlings.

Scott
 

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