Help Identify Type of JBPs x Progression Advice

bangsaturday

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Hello Bonsai Nutters,

I am a newbie at Japanese Black Pine. Read a lot of threads by the grand masters here on Bonsainut.com, and have learn vicariously - each and every day.

New information bombarding my brain cells instantaneously, gratification at its very best. Much thanks to those who are willing to share their experiences via prose & photos alike.

JBP is hard work, long at best. It is not a project that can be started and left alone. Every day is an enjoyable challenge.

I say this because I have just started a batch of 100 Senjumaru & Red Pine seeds on 1st April 2022, and am left with about 7 as of today. My mistake: Transplanting way too early, causing damping, and most of the most viable ones perish within a span of a few days.

Got to keep moving on. So I have started another batch of JBPs & Red Pines on a bed of Akadama & Kiryuzuna pumice in a flatbed colander, and sprouts have emerged exactly 10 days from planting.

Flashback
2020 was the year I decided to acquire young JBPs, around 6 months to 1 year olds, around 20cm tall to 50cm.

I had no idea what I was getting. I purchased the following JBPs based on digital photos that was posted online.

H E L P !
Fast forward to about 2.5 years later, I have around 5 JBPs that have grown taller but I have no idea what type they are.

So I need the expertise of fellow nutters on identifying these JBPs.

Progression Advice
This is important. I have not done anything to these JBPs with the exception of repotting them in March 2022 to bigger colanders (30/30/30 mix of Akadama, Pumice & Lava rock)
I had intended to grow them Telperion Black Pines style on a plot of land several hundred metres above sea level here on Bali, and keep just 1 or 2 to focus on Bonsai styling.
With the exception of 1 JBP, the rest have been left on their own devices to grow initially in a 50/50 mix of black coarse sand & bamboo humus.
All JBPs have been on a 17-10-11 Osmocote slow release regime.

What should I do now? Any advice will be great. Honesty I can take, criticisms more than welcomed. I have only about 1.5 months before I need to fly off for work. So these JBPs will continue to left to their own devices once again.

Thank you in advance guys! Appreciate any prose of any length....

JBP # 1

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bangsaturday

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JPB # 3 -This is the oldest JBP, and have its trunk wired early in the 1st year. I had decandled back in March, and started an air-layer as per photo, this JBP will be the primary candidate for an eventual bonsai pot

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bangsaturday

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JBP # 6 - This particular one has been grown in Akadama, Pumice & Lavarock since 2020. I tried to wire the bottom branches back in March 2022, but have since taken the wires out Should I try to air-layer at the first whorl? or keep the apex growing further? There are 5 candles right at the top. Decandle?

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Shibui

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Too hard to look at all the photos and try to give individual advice for each tree.
In general you'll need to reduce the number of branches at each point. Where there is a ring of branches we call it a 'whorl' and that causes the trunk to swell which eventually looks bad. Cut branches completely close to the trunk so there's only 1 or 2 at any point on the trunk and on any branches. you will have to decide which ones to cut and which to keep.
JBP are usually developed with sacrifice branches or sacrifice trunks to thicken the trunk and after that is cut off the transition to a smaller replacement trunk will provide your tree with taper. Usually the main trunk will be the sacrifice and a couple of the lower branches will be used to form the replacement trunk and a first branch.
There may be other ways to develop pine trunks but this seems to be the best for me.

You said you decandled in March. The resulting regrowth is extremely long which suggests that timing is not the best. Decandling is normally done 100 days before first frost but that will obviously be difficult for you in Bali. The aim is to allow the strong spring growth to happen then remove it at a time when the replacement shoots won't get too big. Down here in Australia we decandle in December when the spring flush has finished.
I have not grown pines in tropical areas so not certain of the methods you will need to follow but the procedure used by cold climate growers probably won't work for you. I have heard some talk of decandling twice a year in some warmer places and some growers mention decandling in early summer then snapping the resulting regrowth to get shorter shoots. If you can't find anything written about pines in tropics you will need to experiment.
Decandling is also a technique for pines as they get closer to finished to form and maintain very short shoots. During development while the trees are still growing and thickening we don't decandle. Instead you can let the trees grow for a year or 2 as you have done then cut back hard to the older needles. This allows strong growth to get trunk thickening but still allows us to cut back to a smaller tree and shorter branches.
 

bangsaturday

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Appreciate your input Shibui.

1. Reduction of branches at each point. I understand this advice. However, I am also torn in between just "cutting off the branches" vs "air layering". Which is why I have chosen the selected JBPs for air layering. Should I try to "thin down the branches" as ensure balance is somewhat directed to the lower branches?

2. Decandled in March: Actually, I shouldn't use this phrase. Forgive me. I actually pinched off "1/2 candles" and the "tips of elongated candles" as I read that balance can be attained by doing so. So in short, a few of the candles were pinched off, but only selective ones. Appreciate your explanation on the reasons for "decandling".

3. Decandling in December in Australia: Thank you for sharing this practice. I had reunited with my JBPs only this February 2022. Hence, a short reunion if you will. However, I will take note of this timing.

Looking at my JBPs, they do look somewhat elongated, overstretched if you will. Am I not doing something to keep them compact? Perhaps pruning, but I would like to grow these JBPs as thick as possible - hence I have left them be, with lots of sun.

It is generally accepted that the most-lower branches will be ultimate "focus of growth energy" for JBPs - which is what I am studying whenever I can, daily.

JBP are usually developed with sacrifice branches or sacrifice trunks to thicken the trunk and after that is cut off the transition to a smaller replacement trunk will provide your tree with taper. Usually the main trunk will be the sacrifice and a couple of the lower branches will be used to form the replacement trunk and a first branch.
There may be other ways to develop pine trunks but this seems to be the best for me.

How do you select your main sacrifice branch? The obvious would be to pick the apex (aka main leader, strongest reach, fastest growth) trunk? and a few select few based for forecasted-design in mind?
 

Wires_Guy_wires

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1. Reduction of branches at each point. I understand this advice. However, I am also torn in between just "cutting off the branches" vs "air layering". Which is why I have chosen the selected JBPs for air layering. Should I try to "thin down the branches" as ensure balance is somewhat directed to the lower branches?
I have this issue with pines as well. Not JBP because I only own one and I dislike JBP as a whole.
But.. It's best to bite the bullet and just do it. I have waited a season too long on some of my seedlings and it's going to take ages for the whorls to be reduced. JBP are good budders compared to most other pines, so there's probably something that'll fill the gaps.
 

River's Edge

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If I could add some clarification to your situation.

1. Reduction of branches at each point. I understand this advice. However, I am also torn in between just "cutting off the branches" vs "air layering". Which is why I have chosen the selected JBPs for air layering. Should I try to "thin down the branches" as ensure balance is somewhat directed to the lower branches?

You should reduce the number of branches at each whorl to one or two. This prevents forming a knuckle or inverse taper due to the natural growth pattern. The simplest way is to reduce them one or two at a time and take off the strongest first. As you proceed up the tree keep branches that cover the 360 degree scope around the trunk. In other words balance the remaining branches. If you are keeping two in one whorl make sure they are not across from each other, it is best if they closer to the same side. This is less likely to form an ugly bulge or inverse taper on the trunk. JBP are not easy or reliable for air layering, I would not recommend spending time on that.

The exception to this rule is the apical area where it is best to keep three branches. One is the current apical sacrifice for trunk growth. The second is wired up to create the next trunk section with a change of direction and the intent to create more taper. The third is wired down to create the addition of a primary branch with downward movement. This process is repeated as you develop the trunk upward with apical sacrifice leaders sequentially.
one further note. With a little additional wiring the main sacrifice leader can be directed to one side initially. This helps to create a more natural transition for the next apical leader and also to position the eventual scar to a better location for when the leader is chopped. Pictures below to best explain this point.

2. Decandled in March: Actually, I shouldn't use this phrase. Forgive me. I actually pinched off "1/2 candles" and the "tips of elongated candles" as I read that balance can be attained by doing so. So in short, a few of the candles were pinched off, but only selective ones. Appreciate your explanation on the reasons for "decandling".

Your trees are young and still in basic developmental stages. No need for balancing and refinement techniques at this stage. Focus on basic growth and thickening the trunks, wire for movement and change leaders for change of direction and development of taper. The pruning technique you should practice is as follows.
If you want the branch to slow down growth for future development, remove the central apical candle and keep just two smaller candles side by side.
If you want the branch or leader to extend and add as much growth as possible remove the side candles and keep the central candle.

3. Decandling in December in Australia: Thank you for sharing this practice. I had reunited with my JBPs only this February 2022. Hence, a short reunion if you will. However, I will take note of this timing.

Decandling or Candle pinching is effective balancing techniques applied after the trunk is established, the primary branches have been developed and you have completed most of the cutback routines to create more density of foliage in the interior. For a rough guideline, usually this applies to trees that have been under development for 15 to 20 years.

Looking at my JBPs, they do look somewhat elongated, overstretched if you will. Am I not doing something to keep them compact? Perhaps pruning, but I would like to grow these JBPs as thick as possible - hence I have left them be, with lots of sun.

If you change your fertilizer to one with less Nitrogen it will help to balance the growth in terms of elongation. however it is not an issue during development. The extra elongation simply helps to add thickness on the trunk faster. Particularly if the pruning of candles takes place as suggested above.

Here are a couple of pictures to visualize some of my comments above.
 

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sorce

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I think if someone cares about the cultivar more than the observable growth habits, you should just lie to them and tell them it's whatever they want to hear!

Welcome to Crazy!

Except if it's a corkbark joint, that changes things enough to matter.

Safe work Travels.

Sorce

P.S. No, lying is not OK.
 

bangsaturday

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Thank you River's Edge-san for your detailed write-up and diagram. I will look into your analysis and follow accordingly.

As to air-layering, the reason why I am even attempting is because a friend of mine who is in Indonesia too, managed to root more than 10 specimens of JBPs.

I am surprised too at his results but it seems like the the odds are seemingly pretty good over here. (or so at least I reckon)

10 April 2022 was the Day One when I started air-layering. This morning, I opened up the capsule of spaghum moss to check the cut-bark portion.

27 days later, I am surprised to find that JBP #3 has started rooting, with a 2-3 cm white thick root visible. That said, I wasn't expecting air-layering to be easy, considering how difficult it is to control the moisture levels from with the "wrapped portion of moss".

JBP #4 , upon opening the capsule, had apparently white mycorrhizae concentrated above the ring of "cut-bark". On both #3 and #4, I have applied another layer of Clonex gel sparingly, after which I will be diluting with a direct foliar spray into the capsule. (There is an opening both at the top and bottom, so draining is optimal at this stage)

I have another weak JBP which is under air-layering but only a small string of micro-roots are visible.

My intentions are to leave the JBPs with the air-layer capsules for at least a year before, attempting a cut, to maintain the upward growth on the apex.

My friend who has succeeded in air-layering JBPs have used a different soil media, mainly black sand + bamboo humus to promote root sproutings. I have chosen sphagum moss as many have succeeded with Red & Trident Maples.

Of course, bearing in mind that the "air-layered roots" are extremely fragile and susceptible to disease, and I have to be aware of this fact.

Now, what I have noticed on all 3 air-layers are:

1. If roots are visible and have sprouted, any sphagum moss will be tightly attached to the "cut-bark" area. (vice versa, if not, the moss will fall into each half of the capsule)
2. If the growth above the air-layered is going on strong, chances are : you will have roots. If the growth is same as when you air-layered, mostly likely roots have not emerged.

The above observations are based on my own experience, of course, and should not reflect any other Bonsainutters' journey.

Checking out for now....going to dilute the Clonex gel with foliar spray now, its been about 15 mins of root hormones soaking in the air-layer.

@sorce: My entrance into this JBP arena propels me to "hunt down information" like its a matter of life and death. You are right, a JBP is a JBP. Who cares if its a Mikawa, Nishiki or Kung-Fu Panda kinda? In all honesty, all the labels on this forum somehow-somewhat got me thinking, and I was like "you are in the company of JBP grandmasters, why not ask?" Which brings me to Eminem & Rihanna's track "Love The Way You Lie"....deception is one thing, the truth I hope to garner in the decades to come....I hope, or at least, by the Bonsai intellectuals here :)
 
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Shibui

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How do you select your main sacrifice branch? The obvious would be to pick the apex (aka main leader, strongest reach, fastest growth) trunk? and a few select few based for forecasted-design in mind?
Main trunk usually becomes the main sacrifice branch. Check @River's Edge picture to see this. Note he has cleaned away all lower needles and side shoots from that main sacrifice trunk. That stopes the tall sacrifice shading out the important lower branches. Leaving lots of branches and needles on a strong sacrifice can severely weaken those important lower branches.

Looking at my JBPs, they do look somewhat elongated, overstretched if you will. Am I not doing something to keep them compact? Perhaps pruning, but I would like to grow these JBPs as thick as possible - hence I have left them be, with lots of sun.
Elongated growth is normal behaviour for pine. Normal spring shoots have a bare section at the base and needles open on the upper half. No problem in the early stages - see comments by @River's Edge but later we need to reduce the bare sections and that's the main purpose of decandling. No need to worry about that at this stage when harder pruning can solve most problems.

3. Decandling in December in Australia: Thank you for sharing this practice. I had reunited with my JBPs only this February 2022. Hence, a short reunion if you will. However, I will take note of this timing.
Note that I only gave December a an example of timing in my area. When it comes to decandling for these trees you will need to find the appropriate time for your climate. Even though we are both in Southern hemisphere tropical conditions will make a big difference to results so you will need to find other tropical pine growers or trial and error to work out timing that works.
Maybe some general understanding of how pines grow, timing by stage of growth rather than calendar and expected results from decandling could be a good basis for starting your trials?

If you want to pick one of your pines to focus on first that may be easier for us to respond to instead of searching through all those large format photos. Hopefully we can explore general concepts while working through the various aspects of one specific tree but remember there will always be a number of different approaches to how to develop a pine as bonsai so be prepared for slightly (or very) different advice.
 

Shibui

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As to air-layering, the reason why I am even attempting is because a friend of mine who is in Indonesia too, managed to root more than 10 specimens of JBPs.

I am surprised too at his results but it seems like the the odds are seemingly pretty good over here. (or so at least I reckon)
JBP layer quite well. In the early days we were told it was not possible so most growers have never even tried and have fixed ideas about layers being difficult or slow. Same for growing as cuttings.
Having said that seed is far easier (if you can get it) and will more reliably get a small tree in about the same time it will take to layer a thin branch.
I only layer pines for the experience or to get a particularly good, thicker part of a tree. Agree that layering small branches is really wasting time. (also applies to the vast majority of layers on deciduous trees)
 

bangsaturday

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Main trunk usually becomes the main sacrifice branch. Check @River's Edge picture to see this. Note he has cleaned away all lower needles and side shoots from that main sacrifice trunk. That stopes the tall sacrifice shading out the important lower branches. Leaving lots of branches and needles on a strong sacrifice can severely weaken those important lower branches.

Thank you Shibui, yes I have been looking at his diagram for the past 10 minutes, and am trying to figure out when is the optimal time to execute this process.

Elongated growth is normal behaviour for pine. Normal spring shoots have a bare section at the base and needles open on the upper half. No problem in the early stages - see comments by @River's Edge but later we need to reduce the bare sections and that's the main purpose of decandling. No need to worry about that at this stage when harder pruning can solve most problems.

I am quite worried somehow that the prolonged elongation will be "not ideal" in the long run. Have read that pruning at one-go is not advisable, and should be done incrementally. If I wish to go the Telperion Black Pines growing method, of "defoliating" the apex trunk, and growing compact bushes at the most bottom whorls, is this advisable on my setup of growing in large colanders?
If you want to pick one of your pines to focus on first that may be easier for us to respond to instead of searching through all those large format photos. Hopefully we can explore general concepts while working through the various aspects of one specific tree but remember there will always be a number of different approaches to how to develop a pine as bonsai so be prepared for slightly (or very) different advice.

You are far too kind. Sending positive Bonsai vibes over to you. Yes, I would pick JBP #3 as the primary candidate for a Bonsai JBP, given that the bottom trunk has an established curvature to work with.

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As you can see, above the 1st and 2nd whorl, the trunk (flanking left) is tapering with a swel. The bottom growth is of old-growth, approaching the 3rd year. (ballpark)

Below is the actual measurements taken with a vernier calliper (approximately 18mm or 3/4 inch):

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Below we have the bottom trunk (diameter measuring 25mm or 1 inch):

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and here is another image of JBP # 3 (somewhat compact at the bottom, and elongation at the top canopy)

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River's Edge

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JBP layer quite well. In the early days we were told it was not possible so most growers have never even tried and have fixed ideas about layers being difficult or slow
I question this statement based on my experience, research and training. And as a grower with plenty of material to work with I have tried lots and a number of variations. The most successful approach I am aware of and have had some success with is a specialized approach with juvenile candles, nothing like the normal air layering process the OP in this thread was mentioning and displaying in a photo.
Please describe the successful and repeatable process that has worked for you. We could all benefit from that research and documentation.
 

Shibui

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Please describe the successful and repeatable process that has worked for you. We could all benefit from that research and documentation.
Nothing special about layering pines. Layering JBP is as simple as layering maples. Just remove a ring of bark, apply hormone to the upper cut edge and wrap with sphagnum. As @bangsaturday mentioned roots will come just as they do with maples and other species.
As you say, that's just based on my experience and research. I started in bonsai with very little training so before I found out I could not do many things like layering pines I was actually doing them.
 

Shibui

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You are far too kind. Sending positive Bonsai vibes over to you. Yes, I would pick JBP #3 as the primary candidate for a Bonsai JBP, given that the bottom trunk has an established curvature to work with.
Bottom trunk with curvature is not always the best example. Need to stop looking at what is there now and imagine what could be there in years to come. Bends in bonsai trunks sometimes exist before developing the tree but are often the result of pruning to replace the main trunk with a side branch.

This one has some curves so we can try to use that.
JBP bali1.png
Red section are the lower branches that will probably be used to make the future tree.
Black section: remove all side branches and needles to reduce competition and shading from the sacrifice trunk. Normally we would use the tallest part but you have already layered it so next choice will be either of the next 2 strong branches but try to keep sacrifice trunk to one strong branch until well above the base branches.
These are still quite young trees so it is not essential to clean the sacrifice trunk yet. It will still be OK with 2 or 3 branches for another year, maybe more, but need to watch for slower growth and weakening low branches if you leave more up top. Remove competing upper branches if the bottom section starts to weaken.
Need to be aware there's more than one way to grow a bonsai from any particular tree.
I would often consider just keeping the lowest 2 branches because I know better curves will come after the sacrifice is pruned in another 4 or 5 years. Others may have other ideas that will also work.

Try to use the same tree to illustrate some fundamentals of how pines grow and some approaches to pruning:
JBP bali2.png
Gold lines indicate bare necks of previous growth. No buds will form on those bare sections so not really much use for bonsai. No problem while trunks are thickening but need to avoid these long sections in the parts that will become bonsai. Pruning can reduce bare sections when you need to reduce length of bare parts.

Green sections have healthy needles. Lots more similar parts. I've just circled 3 to ID a couple of needle bearing areas. Needles section are above the bare necks on new shoots and you can observe the bare necks and needle sections opening on the spring candles this year.
JBP needles usually live for 3 years. Counting back from tips shows that the green section closest to the trunk is coming up to 3 years old. Those needles are likely to turn brown and drop off later in summer.

We can prune pines. If I chop at the red mark (at the end of a bare section) no new buds will grow from the bare neck. That bare section will die back to the next lower junction (marked in purple) and new buds are likely to grow at the junction and probably from the needles just below. We can also prune anywhere in the green sections where there are healthy needles and new buds will grow from the base of needles. These things are the basis of pruning pines.
We now know we can allow pines to grow free for up to 3 years then prune back hard and still get reliable new growth.

After 3 years and old needles drop off I have limited success with buds growing on those areas after pruning. @River's Edge gets much more reliable budding on those sections. Maybe climate related but probably he is a better pine grower. I'll be interested to see how reliable buds on those recently sections where needles were but have dropped for you and others when you get to pruning.

There are many more subtleties related to pine pruning and management. I hope others will feel free to add anything I've missed or clarify if something is ambiguous.
 

River's Edge

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Back budding on pines rely's on primarily two sources. Needle buds, those which form at the base of where a pair of needles previously occurred and adventitious buds that can form on sections of previously bare wood. The adventitious buds occur with stronger healthier plants when more aggressive cut back or pruning has taken place with better timing.
I have found the most effective time to create strong response for back budding is at the beginning of the growing season just after the needles begin to stand out from the candle and the new growth is really extending. I began using this approach after talking with Gary Wood at Telperion Farms approximately ten years ago and combined it with advice from Daisaku Nomoto who suggested stronger cutback well into the old ( but healthy needles) in order to trigger strong back budding lower down on developing JBP.
From combining these suggestions I began to develop multiple sacrifice apical leaders to allow for staged removal rather than removing the entire apical leader in one go. So this involves leaving at least one small side shoot lower down on the apical leader to cut back to. Allowing one to remove a sizeable portion of the apical leader without removing it entirely. The advantage of this approach is multiple opportunities for back budding rather than just one. The other option is to create a sacrificial branch into an apical leader by wiring it upward to be above the developing tree.
The first option is preferred when one still wants to develop new upward sections for change of direction and taper. The second when the primary goal is to thicken lower sections of the trunk.
I am sure there are other variations and approaches out there, just commenting on what has worked for me.

As far as normal vigorous growth is concerned, one should strive towards candles that have needles along the whole length of the candle rather than bare necked sections that can be created from too high nitrogen and or too much watering. The picture below shows what I would call vigorous but healthier growth of candle without the bare necked portions indicating weaker growth. ( note candle in this particular photo is JRP not JBP)
 

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bangsaturday

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Bottom trunk with curvature is not always the best example. Need to stop looking at what is there now and imagine what could be there in years to come. Bends in bonsai trunks sometimes exist before developing the tree but are often the result of pruning to replace the main trunk with a side branch.

Now, that is a new insight for me. I have always thought that the bottom trunk (if not curved-induced at an early 1-2 yr phase, will be harder to bend towards the 3-4 yr period). I will keep this in mind. Thank you Shibui.

Remove competing upper branches if the bottom section starts to weaken.

This is what is mind boggling for me, as the compact growth at the bottom is quite vigorous, and with the top elongation of the candles, I am hard pressed on what to prune. Both yours and River's Edge have since given me a new direction, and I will keep these techniques in mind - when pruning takes place.

With the top elongation of the 3 extended candle-branches, the bottom compact-area is now (I would say, a 90%) exposed to sunlight, whilst trying to keep the bottom trunk growing thicker, should I prune portion by portion, or select an apical sacrifice leader (from the 2 branches, as 1 is already in air-layering stage)?

JBP #3 is off-shooting new needles in the past 1 week daily.

The second when the primary goal is to thicken lower sections of the trunk.

With Shibui's experience with changing taper & direction on the trunk later, would it be logical to first focus on thickening the lower sections, and then the taper and direction later?

Thanks for sharing River's Edge on these 2 methods. I wish to select a JBP to grow Telperion Farms style : One single Apical leader, that shoots all the way up, with an eventual total side branches removal, keeping the base branches clear of sunlight blockage. That said, the root systems must have a lot of space to grow radially.
Is this even possible? In a large colander?

I have since moved from a 50/50 inorganic + organic mix from the first 2 years of these JBPs to now, an almost 80% inorganic soil mix of Akadama, Pumice and Lava rock. (I have tried to keep the roots undisturbed while transplanting).

It has been about 3 weeks since I last transplanted 3 JBPs into bigger colanders, and the recovery is just starting to show from the new needles growing out. m

If I chop at the red mark (at the end of a bare section) no new buds will grow from the bare neck. That bare section will die back to the next lower junction (marked in purple) and new buds are likely to grow at the junction and probably from the needles just below.

Thank you for taking the time to colour-code the areas on JBP #3.

About 24 hours ago, right at the red mark branch, since it was bare and elongated, I have done another air-layer at that particular branch. I figured since I will be pruning off that section anyways, and to not disrupt the tree's recovering from a recent transplant.

Now, I just went out to each JBPs (with the exception of JBP #3) and have observed the "swelling at the whorls". The reverse taper is very obvious, with the lower trunk visibly thinner than the upper whorl. Is a pune / cut back needed at this point?

Once again, appreciate your time taken on this thread. :)
 

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