Black Pine Training

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Hello All,

I purchased this Black Pine from a whole sale landscape nursery back in January and I have a few questions on training. I am very well read on JBP Bonsai training however I have little experience.

A little back round on the tree first. On Feb. 5th I bare rooted the root bound tree origionally in a 5 gallon nursery can and maby cut off 10% of the roots. Their soil was exelent so their was little root damage during this process. In its new home, (one of my screened bottom grow boxes with 70% perlite and pumice) it has gone nuts. After immediate heavy feeding and then on a 10 day program with 18-9-12 fertilizer the top candles grew 20 inches or so and all sorts of roots are shooting out the door screen underneith, a sea of root tips.

I feel that with the better than expected growth I can now go ahead and chop the big sacrafice leader just above the sucker tuft at 4 inches above soil. I have been anticipating this for june so I have been gradually removing candles from the top every month or so. In the second pic the red arrows point to the last 2 I removed 2 weeks ago. I also pulled the needles along the main sacrafice trunk up to the main large fork for maximum sunlight for the low branches.

In the first pic I have a red arrow pointing to what I feel would be the best new trunk line and first branch (the blue arrows off of the red one indicates the new trunk leader and the first branch). The 2 light blue arrows point to my intended sacrafice branches below the new leader that I will use for trunk thickening. The rest will be removed (a bulge is beginning to form).

My concerns are this:

1) I do not want to set this tree back too much and was wondering how much of this I can do this season. Some options I have been thinking about are layed out below.

a) Leave it alone untill next year.

b) Only thin out the lower branches and leave the ones indicated by the arrows in the first pic and leave the large trunk sacrafice with its remaining candles untill this winter.

c) Trunk chop it and do "b" above (their will hardly be anything left)

My other concern is with the bulge beginning to form, I feel that it is most prudent to keep that from getting worse this year.

The base is about 1.7 inches in diameter. I also do not want a stove pipe to form or have to big of a wound to heal so I feel this is an apropriate diameter for the chop.

Thanx in advance,

Marc
 

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Leave it until late winter and then cut it down to a couple inches above all those lowest branches. I suggest looking for one of those branches to become the new leader and another branch to be the first branch on the tree. If you already know which branches you are using then make sure no other branches are shading them.
 

riprap

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Marc,
I think your reading has set you on the right track. The cutting back that you describe is correct, and I don't see what would be gained by waiting another year. You will have a sizeable scar, but not an unreasonable one, given the years it will take for this tree to begin to assume an adult form. Your first pic does not show enough detail for me to comment on your choice of branches to keep, but the proportion of the ones you select, in relation to the trunk, looks right given the choices.

Your culture method is right on, given the growth you are getting (don't turn your back on it -- it might get out of hand!).
 
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I had a JBP at about the same state of advancement, I cut it back last september without any problem until april. Then in one week, all the needles turned brown and the tree died.
I am quite sure it was not root rot but a fungus of some kind (some other pines where affected, albeit not so severely).
So one advice : treat it against fungus even if it seems fine.
 
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Thank you for the replies. I think I will leave it alone untill winter under the idea that the more needles it has going into the late fall the more food it will store. Then I should get some great growth next year as I build the new trunk extention and first branch. The branch I selected for this has good internodal distances. I figure, 3 inches to the first hard taper, another 2 to the first branch so that makes 5" from the soil to the first branch. The second one will be selected next August after candling from the top of the new leader and should be at 3 inches from the first branch. So that would make for a 15" height with ever decreasing space beetween branches when all is said and done. I should be ready for a walker at that point as well!

Anyone feel free to correct me on my plan.

Cheers

Marc
 
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Thanx Yall,

Thought I would give an update w/ pics. I decided to take 2 more long candles off the top and leave the rest untill late winter for the chop. In retrospect I should have done the chop back in July. I did not candle anything else. I thought I could go 2 seasons in this container but this thing has been just exploding. It is almost done with its second set of candles and the roots are shooting out the bottom of the screen creating a mat.

To try to stay on schedule, should I do the chop in Jan. and then in Feb. do a re-pot? Or is that two much all at once. I do not really want to remove the top this late in the year. Even though it does not freeze here much I think it would be important for the tree to be able store carbs in the roots before going into dormancy.

Marc
 

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Vance Wood

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It would be nice and helpful if you could post a photo of the base with the growth pushed to the side so the details could be seen. The base of a tree and the the bottom part of the trunk are the two most important aspects of a bonsai. If you are developing material from scratch as this one appears to be, it is best to decide in the beginning what the base now looks like and how it relates to your over-all design either real or imagined. Sometimes the nature of the base will determine the direction you want to take the tree in the future.
 
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Here are all 4 sides. One of the sides you can see I am trying to grow new roots for it was the only defective side. I have not really picked a front yet, I want to see how the new roots develop benieth the sphagnum moss, so in spring I will probably have a better idea.
 

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The first pic is my planned first branch (resting on my thumb) and the new leader (in my fingers) this is the highest of the branches. I figure I could wire and twist to orient with the front when a front is chosen. The second pic is the planned sacrafice which is the lowest branch and one of the longer ones.
As you can see their are many possibilities. However, being that this is my first pine my plan is to keep it simple and create a traditional informal upright. So along those lines that first branch looks to be about 6" above the soil so that would be perfect for my planned 18" total height + or -. Many possibilities here so feel free to critique.

I guess my real question is this.

As you can see in pic three this tree is already rootbound and I am not shure if it can go another year in this container. My plan was to have it go 2 years and in the second year (next) do all the brutal trunk chopping and branch thinning to 2 branches (new extension/first branch and sacrafice) this winter and then let it grow next season and candle in July. Now it looks like I am going to have to do root work this spring again.

So...

Should I do the brutal hacking now in Sep. and root work in spring.

or should do both at the same time in spring.

or should I do root work in spring and brutalize it in July of next year.

or should I let it stay in this container for all of next year and brutalize it this winter.

Thanx guys!
 

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Black Pine

Marc,

That's a nice effort however why are you in a rush with this tree? First of all, if you cut a tree like this down too fast, it could die. Secondly, looking at the branching, your inter-nodes look too long - did you do a June/July candle pruning of the non-sacrafice branches?

Here's what I'd do (in my humble opinion), I'd wait until late fall to remove any unwanted candles and needles, however, you need to leave some needles close to the trunk to encourage back budding. The back budding will allow you to create nice tight branching that is critical to BPs. Letting the branch internodes get too long makes it harder to get buds.

Next, I'd let the leader run on top but only leave one. Too many branches on the leader draws the auxins up the tree and inhibits budding at the bottom of the tree (Auxins are the hormone that promote budding).

Finally, next spring, depending on where you live, put the tree on an aggressive fertilizing program, BPs need lots of food. I use organics because you can't over do it and the growth is not explosive.

That's it for now, I have to go, but let us hear how it's going.

Juniperus Californica
 
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BP Pix

Marc,

I've attached a couple of pix of BPs that I have in training. There are so many different ways to develop BPs that you need to take all of the info and find what works for you and your climate. Here are a few more thoughts on BPs:

- Ecto Mycorrhizae is critical! BPs need this beneficial fungus to thrive. I innoculate my BPs with the spores for several weeks until I'm sure the Mycorrhizae has colonized.

- When you fertilize, the ph of the water or solution has to be between 5.6 and 5.8. At this level the tree is able to obsorb the maximum amount of nutrients. A higher ph will actually lock out nutrients from the tree.

- Trees in the ground do better because the of a more constant temp. and the ground actually regulates ph.

- Finally, the soil must be as fast draining as possible and, if possible, the container should breath. In the attached pix, the black bags are "root bags" that I had specially made for bonsai and they drain excess water and they breath.

Next to Junipers, BPs are my favorite bonsai material (probably because they're so damn hard to devlop). Hopefully, this info is helpful, I learned it from sending many a BP to the great bonsai graveyard in the sky.

Good Luck

Juniperus Californica
 

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Thank you for the reply JC,

My internodes did get quite long to my greenhorn surprise!

Here's what I'd do (in my humble opinion), I'd wait until late fall to remove any unwanted candles and needles, however, you need to leave some needles close to the trunk to encourage back budding. The back budding will allow you to create nice tight branching that is critical to BPs. Letting the branch internodes get too long makes it harder to get buds.
I want to remove the large central leader because I am satisfied with the trunk diameter at the first trunk extension and did not want too big of a chop scar. Also, many of those bottom branches need to come off so as to not have a bulge develope(?), then candle the rest? That sounds like allot, however the tree is very healthy so it should backbud like crazy. I think this would be safe if done in winter.

I am enjoying this challenge with Black Pine. I have read allot but the experience is what really counts, makes me want to go out and buy 10 more to practice on.

Nice pines by the way.
 
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I guess my bottom line question is: Can I chop the trunk right now this late in the year, if I do not do anything else?
 
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update

I chopped the central leader and then wired up a good branch as the new leader. One with a good left and right branch.

The rest of the branches are new suckers shooting of the trunk and a sacrifice down low. I imagine when July arrives I would candle everything but the sacrifice. The new resulting growth would have a shorter internode.

I hear about this fabled procedure called needle plucking? Why would I need to do that on this tree so early on? Or maybe I don't.

I plan on doing more root work next spring and using the same box. Should I not candle at all next year after that? I am thinking that alternating between candling and root work every other year is what is done. People tell me that these JBP's can go 5 years w/o root work but mine gets root bound in one to two years.

Cheers
 

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Sounds good...

Will update after new growth occurs in the fall.

The great thing about these forums is if they are still around in 40 years and if I am still alive I''ll have my 60th update of a great old Black Pine bonsai.

If i am dead hopefully Absorbing jr. will continue the care and updates.

Cheers
 
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Chris,

or anyone who knows,

I'm entering uncharted waters here. Should I even be bothering with this candling if my goal is to speed along the development of this guy. I mean if I really wanted to develope the thickness in this next section it seems like candling would just set the tree back. I would get shorter internodes in the next section and backbudding below but couldn't I just let it grow wild for a couple of years and then cream it back (as long as there are still needles in that section). Would it not then backbud profusely like the first section did earlier this spring (buds grew from old needle-less wood).

It also got hit hard by needlcast fungus, I have been treating with draconil every 3 weeks and it has made a good recovery but many of last years needles were damaged by the disease. It is growing well now but may be to week to candle.

Thank you in advance
 
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