Bristlecone pine and limber info needed on wiring/training

Rocksnbonsai

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Hi This is my first post. I am a bonsai Colorado newbie. I collected a few 1 ft ish wild bristlecone pines last fall, and they have some nice summer growth. I need some info on wiring and pruning timetables. There is very little info on bristlecones out there. I read somewhere that they should be treated more like a mugo. So pinching back candles in summer? and wiring in fall/winter? Would branch pruning be early spring?
Would my limber pines need similar treatment?
If anyone has experience with bristlecones, I would love your advice.
 

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Colorado

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Welcome!

Bristlecone pine is - to some degree anyway - largely uncharted territory for bonsai. Ryan Neil and Todd Schlafer have both posted great bristlecones on Instagram but I haven’t seen as much information on them as we do for, say, Ponderosas or Limbers or Lodgepoles. I’m sure there are resources out there, but you might have to do some digging!

I only have one bristlecone so I can’t offer much advice. But I would not wire a pine in the “winter” here in Colorado. It might be fine…but you’re rolling the dice with our severe winters. I prefer to wire pines in the late summer, early fall, or early spring.
 

rockm

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It's not really uncharted. It's just not used much because it's slow growing and difficult. Do a search here and on the web. There are a few articles, including some from folks here who have tried it.
 

Rocksnbonsai

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Hi yall. oh I have searched and dug, literally and figuratively. Chumona gave good advice re not wiring a pine in winter here in Colorado. So that's good. Just by chance I had wired some late fall and they did well. I also learned that Pinyons hate to be wired in the spring (RIP little pinon) they like a late fall wiring. So for newly collected bristlecones, should I leave the candles alone until next year? For last years collected bristlceones that have impressive 2" candles now, should I pinch them back?
 

ShadyStump

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You said Colorado, but if you click on your icon at the top and add a location or USDA growing zone to your profile- as specific or vague as you feel like being- everyone will have an idea where you are and be able to offer more specific advice...

And I'll know if I have more Denver types to make fun of. ;)
 

rockm

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Hi yall. oh I have searched and dug, literally and figuratively. Chumona gave good advice re not wiring a pine in winter here in Colorado. So that's good. Just by chance I had wired some late fall and they did well. I also learned that Pinyons hate to be wired in the spring (RIP little pinon) they like a late fall wiring. So for newly collected bristlecones, should I leave the candles alone until next year? For last years collected bristlceones that have impressive 2" candles now, should I pinch them back?
 

Rocksnbonsai

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You said Colorado, but if you click on your icon at the top and add a location or USDA growing zone to your profile- as specific or vague as you feel like being- everyone will have an idea where you are and be able to offer more specific advice...

And I'll know if I have more Denver types to make fun of. ;)
Thanks for the tip , i added CO to my profile. Zone 4
 

ShadyStump

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Zone 4 would make you... NOT Northern I-25 corridor people!
Woohoo! I'm not the only one on here any more!
 

Rocksnbonsai

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Zone 4 would make you... NOT Northern I-25 corridor people!
Woohoo! I'm not the only one on here any more!
Lafayette, Colorado toots! I am obsessed with high mountain trees. Got my forest permits ready for some fall fun. I love Engelmann spruce, limber and bristlecone. Pinyons dont like me thus far, but I am determined to win them over
 

ShadyStump

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Lafayette, Colorado toots! I am obsessed with high mountain trees. Got my forest permits ready for some fall fun. I love Engelmann spruce, limber and bristlecone. Pinyons dont like me thus far, but I am determined to win them over
@Colorado and I were talking about this recently. Pinions don't seem to like anybody much. My best luck so far has been early fall collection just before the first freeze- usually September for me- but I'm thinking bumping it up to August and see if that gives time to rebuild stronger roots before going dormant. We determined that they like water ALLOT more than you would assume initially.
 

Rocksnbonsai

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@Colorado and I were talking about this recently. Pinions don't seem to like anybody much. My best luck so far has been early fall collection just before the first freeze- usually September for me- but I'm thinking bumping it up to August and see if that gives time to rebuild stronger roots before going dormant. We determined that they like water ALLOT more than you would assume initially.
Hi shadystump, I would concur. My pinions were so happy, I collected them last september, and made the mistake of spring wiring. I think they needed a longer "time out" . A least a full year in the pot and then fall wiring and pruning. Amazingly my happy one is just budding now
 

ShadyStump

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Yeah, took me a little while to learn that one about waiting at least one season. Noob impatience was all.
I worry about the one that's only just budding. Do you think it'll need some protection at the start of fall?

I actually am still just killing them. This past year I'm going with a combination of poor substrate, weather and poor positioning right after collection. Still, that last one held on for a while.

But in general, yeah, if you collect something, give it at least a year before working it.
 

Rocksnbonsai

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I had the summer budding pinon buried in my garden in his pot last winter to the pot level. he liked that. I think he is just a "late bloomer". Maybe a little mulch on top of the pot for protection
 

ShadyStump

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I had the summer budding pinon buried in my garden in his pot last winter to the pot level. he liked that. I think he is just a "late bloomer". Maybe a little mulch on top of the pot for protection
When have you had the best luck collecting? Nothing I've collected in spring seems to last long. Early fall collecting seems to last longer, but about the time the heat gets going they die right away, regardless of water or soil composition. I've assumed I'm just not getting quite enough root most times- always tricky with pinions.
 

Rocksnbonsai

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Yep fall collecting seems to be the best for me. . When looking for limbers or bristles, the side of a road or bottom of a gully (soft forest soil) yeilds the easy digging and root preservation. No mountain top backbreaking rock digging for me. The pinons I got last september around canon city were so happy until I spring wired/pruned them and killed them . I think I prefer the bristle /limber pines and spruce for their needles and overall look. The limbers and bristles are super bendy too, pinons, not so much. I have not really tried many rocky mountain juniper other than a couple of "babies". I agree, its super hard to get a lot of root with pinons.
Have you made any Douglas Fir forests?
 

ShadyStump

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So YOU'RE the one stealing my trees! LOL

No. Honestly, if I had a thread here of just my trees, I'd title it The Killing Floor. LOL
I've been at it for about two years, with almost now money or time to dedicate to bonsai, and changes in living circumstances over the past year have taken their toll on what small collection I had. So my experience at this point is mostly me trying to find out how to do everything wrong as quickly as possible so that when I finally DO have the chance, I got the worst of it out of the way and can do real work.
 

Potawatomi13

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Hi This is my first post. I am a bonsai Colorado newbie. I collected a few 1 ft ish wild bristlecone pines last fall, and they have some nice summer growth. I need some info on wiring and pruning timetables. There is very little info on bristlecones out there. I read somewhere that they should be treated more like a mugo. So pinching back candles in summer? and wiring in fall/winter? Would branch pruning be early spring?
Would my limber pines need similar treatment?
If anyone has experience with bristlecones, I would love your advice.
Familiar with Bonsai Mirai Live? Ryan has excellent instruction video here for both these trees. Remembering (?) He tells not to remove candles of single flush pines! Highly recommend to watch several good live streams(several times for maximum absorption)for great advice. Several opinionated know-it-alls here will give you false advice for these trees☺️. Personally have both. In development will not remove ANY green needles unless ready to fall off and will only SHORTEN select few candles if too long or needing new budding there. Repot sparingly; maybe 5-10 years intervals IF needed. Both slow growing trees so need sacrifice trunk/branch and years of growing in grow box or ground to get usefully decent trunk. Personal trees growing in pumice doing well😌.
 

Rocksnbonsai

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Familiar with Bonsai Mirai Live? Ryan has excellent instruction video here for both these trees. Remembering (?) He tells not to remove candles of single flush pines! Highly recommend to watch several good live streams(several times for maximum absorption)for great advice. Several opinionated know-it-alls here will give you false advice for these trees☺️. Personally have both. In development will not remove ANY green needles unless ready to fall off and will only SHORTEN select few candles if too long or needing new budding there. Repot sparingly; maybe 5-10 years intervals IF needed. Both slow growing trees so need sacrifice trunk/branch and years of growing in grow box or ground to get usefully decent trunk. Personal trees growing in pumice doing well😌.
Thank you so much for your reply! I just signed up for Ryan's streaming and library , amazing. Loved the video on collecting after care With Randy Knight, so much info there. Please have a look at the lovely bristlecone I collected this fall. His native soil was pure, fine, well draining gravel, so I left him in that and just added some bonsai soil on top. His top roots were so delicate I did not want to disturb him much. Oh and he has a 2 to 3" thick tap root that goes to the bottom of the pot and fine roots near the top. My question is, would it be more important to cut that tap root shorter and get him in a new pot with pumice in spring, or start pruning in spring him and leave him in this pot for another year (the pot is currently buried in my garden for the winter with exra drain holes drilled in the sides
 

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