Bristlecone Pine Seedlings

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Yamadori
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In November a relative gave me one of those bonsai seed starter kits, without doing any research, I sowed the seeds almost immediately in late November. I realize now that may not have been the best time to start them, but I am looking for some advice. I have 11 seedlings in total, I moved them into this seedling tray in a mix of perlite and starter seed potting mix at the end of december. They sprouted and grew pretty quickly but seem to have slowed recently. I have them under a grow light 14 hours a day along with 4 black spruce seedlings that came in the kit as well. How long do I leave them in this current setup? Do I need to give them more light? Is it time for some fertilizer? Is it ok to move the black spruce seedlings out of this burlap pouch? It has a plastic liner with no drainageIMG_2396.jpg

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Wires_Guy_wires

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Compared to my own bristlecone pines, yours look pretty stretchy. This means there's not enough light blasting them. The same goes for the spruce.
I keep my bristlecones outdoors, protected from the rain but not the frost and wind. They're about the most 'outdoor' species of pine I know. Because they live at such high altitudes, they get a few 100%'s more light than trees at sea level.

What I'm trying to sugarcoat is that this might not be the best way of growing bristlecones and/or spruce. I'm pretty sure it isn't. But I also love it when people prove me wrong!
So lower those lights or raise the pots (equals more blasting with light!), get those internodes short (by blasting them with light), go easy on the watering and let us know how it turned out. But in all honesty, I'd advise you to try again coming spring.
 

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Compared to my own bristlecone pines, yours look pretty stretchy. This means there's not enough light blasting them. The same goes for the spruce.
I keep my bristlecones outdoors, protected from the rain but not the frost and wind. They're about the most 'outdoor' species of pine I know. Because they live at such high altitudes, they get a few 100%'s more light than trees at sea level.

What I'm trying to sugarcoat is that this might not be the best way of growing bristlecones and/or spruce. I'm pretty sure it isn't. But I also love it when people prove me wrong!
So lower those lights or raise the pots (equals more blasting with light!), get those internodes short (by blasting them with light), go easy on the watering and let us know how it turned out. But in all honesty, I'd advise you to try again coming spring.
Thanks Wires Guy, I raised them up a couple inches from the light, we will see how it goes, the taproots are coming out of the holes, would it be beneficial to tuck them back in or trim them off?
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Just leave tap roots dry out and let the tips die back naturally. This will force the seedling to put more energy into lateral roots.

Bristlecone pine is a difficult species. I know of nobody living at less than 5000 feet (1524 meters) with a bristlecone pine in a bonsai pot that is still alive after 5 years. Especially anyone living in humid warm summer areas. There might be a few at some elevation in California. But generally all those seedlings myself and others have germinated at our respective low elevations eventually die off due to an attack by one disease or another. Fungi and bacteria make short work of bristlecones. In their home range, at 10,000 to 13,000 foot elevation, (3048 to 3946 meters) the air is thin, very dry and UV light is intense, meaning fungi and bacteria have a hard time getting going. Bristlecone pines don't need to have robust resistance to fungi & bacteria, because it is not a problem. Get them to the lowlands, and all manner of disease will attack.

BUT - you might get lucky. Since all seedlings have some genetic variation, you might get the one seedling in a thousand that has a robust resistance to disease. What would be a worthy project would be to find and produce seed from as many individuals that do survive at low elevation as possible. These seedlings would then be somewhat better adapted to low elevation.
Good luck
 

Iowa newbie

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Bristlecone pine is a difficult species. I know of nobody living at less than 5000 feet (1524 meters) with a bristlecone pine in a bonsai pot that is still alive after 5 years. Especially anyone living in humid warm summer areas. There might be a few at some elevation in California. But generally all those seedlings myself and others have germinated at our respective low elevations eventually die off due to an attack by one disease or another. Fungi and bacteria make short work of bristlecones. In their home range, at 10,000 to 13,000 foot elevation, (3048 to 3946 meters) the air is thin, very dry and UV light is intense, meaning fungi and bacteria have a hard time getting going. Bristlecone pines don't need to have robust resistance to fungi & bacteria, because it is not a problem. Get them to the lowlands, and all manner of disease will attack.

Good luck
So you're saying there's a chance???


In all honesty, I didn't have high hopes but that kit spurred my interest in bonsai, there is no stopping me now. I have your list of suggestions for the midwest and am planning on acquiring some outdoor trees in spring. I'll probably try to get an indoor tree or two, my wife will probably divorce me in the process but Im hooked.
 

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I think you are talking about p. longaeva, @Leo in N E Illinois. There are p. aristada that are at least 20-year old trees in my neighborhood, which, though cool, is very near sea-level and high humidity. I've also seen older at a grower 15 miles away from me, but still very near sea-level and in humidity.

There is also p. balfouriana that is called 'bristlecone'.

Do we know what particular species @Iowa newbie has?
 

Iowa newbie

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I think you are talking about p. longaeva, @Leo in N E Illinois. There are p. aristada that are at least 20-year old trees in my neighborhood, which, though cool, is very near sea-level and high humidity. I've also seen older at a grower 15 miles away from me, but still very near sea-level and in humidity.

There is also p. balfouriana that is called 'bristlecone'.

Do we know what particular species @Iowa newbie has?
They are Pinus Aristada
 

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Next Big worry is damp off of seedlings. Avoid excess moisture like plague. Possible to keep SMALL breeze(from fan)on trees:confused:?
 

Iowa newbie

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Next Big worry is damp off of seedlings. Avoid excess moisture like plague. Possible to keep SMALL breeze(from fan)on trees:confused:?
Ive got a small oscillating fan I turn on low in the grow area, I turn it on for a few hours everyday. I moved the seedlings up about 4 inches, they are roughly 2 inches away from a light strip and added a 2nd strip of lights just for them.
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Leo in N E Illinois

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@0soyoung

I certainly don't get around enough, I've been around long enough, but haven't traveled the ''bonsai circuit'' west of the Rockies. I was talking about pretty much all 3 species. I am surprised that they are surviving long term, more than 5 years at sea level in your region. The Pacific Northwest is truly a unique climate. I do know once you are far enough east of the Rocky Mountains, to be off the high plains, all 3 species of bristlecone become very rare. I occasionally see a yamadori or a seed raised nursery stock tree at a show, when I ask the exhibitor the following year about the tree, usually I get a long face explaining the tree has gone to the big compost heap in the sky.

There was a P. balfouriana 'Sherwoods' that was pretty common in the nursery trade, but it also appears to have disappeared east of the Mississippi. It apparently is not doing particularly well at low elevation in the humid and warm at night east.

There has been USFS sponsored breeding programs to introduce heat tolerance into sub-alpine fir, and one of the southwest white pine species, heat tolerance is a genetic trait that can be selected and bred for. Maybe a foundation population of bristlecones will be identified at some point in the future, and a population will be developed for the nursery trade. That is a long time line project, maybe too long for any one generation to take it up, but it could be done.
 

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As you said, @Leo in N E Illinois, all bristlecone species tend to grow near timberline. Being a high alpine species, bristlecones likely have a long bud chilling time requirement. I live in a Douglas fir forest.

Also, what soil there is near timberline tends to be alkaline. I don't know if the grower and the home owner of the landscape specimens I've seen do, or have done things, to make their soil alkaline. The grower is located in the old flood plain of the Skagit River which, I think, is mildly acidic - we don't have hard water in this area.

The last thing I note is that the grower lists their bristlecones as 'pinus aristada varieties', whatever that may mean. I am a poor dendrologist and haven't spent any time seeing them in their native habitat, but they look to be normal p. aristada and not some miniature dwarf, witches broom, or what not.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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All interesting facts. The ''next time'' I try raising a bristlecone, I do plan to mix into the potting media some crushed dolomite. Locally it is sold as grit for poultry or a finer crush is sold as base for placing garden paver stones.
 

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All interesting facts. The ''next time'' I try raising a bristlecone, I do plan to mix into the potting media some crushed dolomite. Locally it is sold as grit for poultry or a finer crush is sold as base for placing garden paver stones.
Had one for a couple years in turkey grit and napa8822.
It did great but it couldn't take the cold here.
35 below zero was too much.
 

0soyoung

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35 below zero was too much.
Hmmm. They (p. aristata) are reportedly only hardy to USDA zone 4 = -30F/-34C

Never really thought about it before, but I see that p. sylvestris is good to -45F/-43C (zone 2) and 'grows' inside the arctic circle. What tough MFs they are! And they do just fine in cushy climes like mine. Similarly for p. mugo: good to -35F/-37C and fine here too. Now I understand ....


... no wonder you don't have any hair on your head. Brrr ... ;)
 

M. Frary

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Hmmm. They (p. aristata) are reportedly only hardy to USDA zone 4 = -30F/-34C

Never really thought about it before, but I see that p. sylvestris is good to -45F/-43C (zone 2) and 'grows' inside the arctic circle. What tough MFs they are! And they do just fine in cushy climes like mine. Similarly for p. mugo: good to -35F/-37C and fine here too. Now I understand ....


... no wonder you don't have any hair on your head. Brrr ... ;)
It did great up until then.
Rootwork.
Shoot cutting.
But the brutal cold.
I imagine if it had been completely covered in snow it may have made it.
You would think the hair on my head would be real thick from adapting to the cold,like a dog. But no.
Now the rest of me? Squatchy!
 

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As you said, @Leo in N E Illinois, all bristlecone species tend to grow near timberline. Being a high alpine species, bristlecones likely have a long bud chilling time requirement. I live in a Douglas fir forest.

Zone 8b mine do fine. One aristata over 24 years. Also have longaeva, balfouriana less time.
 
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Potawatomi13

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As you said, @Leo in N E Illinois, all bristlecone species tend to grow near timberline. Being a high alpine species, bristlecones likely have a long bud chilling time requirement. I live in a Douglas fir forest.

Mine do fine Zone 8b. One aristata over 24 years also have longaeva, balfouriana less time.

Also, what soil there is near timberline tends to be alkaline. I don't know if the grower and the home owner of the landscape specimens I've seen do, or have done things, to make their soil alkaline. The grower is located in the old flood plain of the Skagit River which, I think, is mildly acidic - we don't have hard water in this area.
All planted in Wee Tree Bonsai mix. no special fertilizer.

The last thing I note is that the grower lists their bristlecones as 'pinus aristada varieties', whatever that may mean. I am a poor dendrologist and haven't spent any time seeing them in their native habitat, but they look to be normal p. aristada and not some miniature dwarf, witches broom, or what not.
What grower?
 
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