Early pine development

Gnome

Mame
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This coming season I will be continuing the development of some Scots Pine seedlings that I started last Spring and have some questions regarding their development. First I should say that I am not certain of this identification as I collected the seeds myself from a local tree; the needles are in pairs and twisted. They can be seen here.

On this forum (here) and elsewhere, Brent has answered some of my questions, but as usual answers only foster more questions. As I understand his position he prefers to encourage movement in the lower trunk through pruning rather than wiring. Furthermore, all lower branches play a part in the development of movement and taper. Low branches all serve one of three main purposes:

1. New leaders when, and if, the original one is removed.

2. Primary branches of the finished design.

3. Sacrifice branches to thicken the lower trunk.

Sounds simple enough in theory but putting it into practice is another thing entirely. Now on to the specifics:

1. I am lucky enough to have numerous low branches, and on some individuals, possibly too many. One seedling in particular has 4 branches within the first 1-½ inches and 4 well formed buds above that. Can this many low branches be utilized effectively?

2. I assume that these branches can be utilized as “finished branches” on only relatively small trees, otherwise they will be to low. Is this correct?

3. Nearly 50% of the seedlings were damaged by a chipmunk, or other vermin, that took a liking to the terminal buds. So I now have an unintended experiment underway. These seedlings still have at least a few low branches and/or buds so I don’t think that they are necessarily ruined.

In short, I am doing well with the practical aspects of growing the pines but I lack the experience to make the informed design decisions that will need to be made this coming year. Any advice or thoughts that anyone has regarding these issues will be appreciated.

Norm
 
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Vance Wood

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A lot depends on what size bonsai you intend to develop out of these seedlings. They are now one season old, do I understand that correctly? It is possible at this point regardless of what size you plan on to put a few curves into the trunk. Scots Pine tend to grow really straight until something happens to them, so you might want to keep that in mind. Normally I do not do anything much to them other than a bend or two in the trunk till the third season.
 

Gnome

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Vance, thanks for the help.

They are now one season old, do I understand that correctly?
Yes, I started them last spring and are not yet one year old. I am surprised at the number of low branches/buds that have developed.

It is possible at this point regardless of what size you plan on to put a few curves into the trunk. Scots Pine tend to grow really straight until something happens to them,
13 of 30 have already been pruned by my little helper and will be making a quick turn this spring.

Norm
 

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