Japanese Black Pine stock development question

darrellw

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This is primiarily for Brent, but I thought I'd ask it here so that others can comment as well.

This is a JBP "Thunderhead" that I purchased from Evergreen Gardenworks last fall. This spring, I repotted into a pond basket with a coarse akadama/lava/pumice mix. Obviously this tree needs a lot more growth and development. I've labeled the two lowest set of branches (1 and 2), these I believe will be the future "tree". As you can see, the leader is growing very well. This shot doesn't show it completly, and this picture is a few weeks old, but the primary leader has one main bud/candle, and 5 smaller ones. My question is, should I do anything now (or later this season) to this main leader? I know that I pretty much just want it to grow, but is there a risk at this point that its vigor will weaken the lower branches?

-Darrell
 

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cbobgo

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Those lower candles look pretty strong, I don't think you will have to worry too much about weakening them. Letting the top grow will give you the increase in trunk thickness you are looking for, so let if grow wild. We routinely have sacrifice branches that are over 4 feet long.

- bob
 

darrellw

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Those lower candles look pretty strong, I don't think you will have to worry too much about weakening them. Letting the top grow will give you the increase in trunk thickness you are looking for, so let if grow wild. We routinely have sacrifice branches that are over 4 feet long.

- bob
Thanks, Bob. But should I allow all six new branches to continue to grow from the current top?

-Darrell
 

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If it was me (and note I said me, not Mr. Brent or Dr. Bob), I would remove last year's needles between your future leader and the top whorl, as well as 2 of the 5 buds in that whorl. My reasoning would be that to increase light and air circulation to the future tree, reduce some of the energy going to the sacrifice branch, and still allow plenty of needles and buds for the sacrifice to remain strong to help trunk development. That is basically what I do with my trees out in the field that are in development - but not sure if that is the best treatment of the sacrificial branch at this stage.
 

Graydon

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Thanks, Bob. But should I allow all six new branches to continue to grow from the current top?

-Darrell
I would. The rampant growth on that top (the whorl of 1 leader and 5 branches) will be what begins to thicken the trunk with the increased sap flow. Any cutting of those candles will reduce the growth and slow it a bit to allow for healing - and that is counterproductive to fattening it up.

The branches you indicated seem to be plenty strong so I do not believe there is a risk of losing them due to the apical dominance. I would consider removing some of the needles (later this year) above the indicated branches but below the new whorl to allow plenty of light penetration as it looks to be very dense with growth of needles.

Once you get a year or so on the extended leader you could consider removing the side branches at the new whorl to make sure lower growth is not shaded.

That's how I would approach this one, I have similar ones and am doing it as I outlined. Could be off a bit...
 

cbobgo

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I agree with graydon. More foliage means more energy means more wood. Removing anything will slow down that process.

Now, if the current apex of the tree was going to be incorporated in the final design plan, rich's advice to decrease those candles would be right. But that part of the tree will be long gone, so it won't matter if there is over-growth there.

But his point about getting light down to the rest of the tree is an important one. Make sure that the sacrifice branch won't be shading the rest of the tree. Removing some of the needles as he and graydon suggested would be resonable.

- bob
 

Brent

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Thanks Bob, Graydon, and Rich for filling in for me. I agree that wild rampant growth in the leader is essential to thicken the trunk. I agree with Rich that the needles should be removed from the first internode of the sacrifice simply to make sure the 'tree' isn't shaded. The biggest factor in weakening lower branches is lack of light. I position my trees so that the sacrifice is facing north exposing the 'tree' to the bright southern light, and will sometimes even pull a sacrifice off to the side to keep it from casting shade.

When doing this procedure, I find that I can leave a sacrifice leader for at least as long as ten years without unduly weakening the lower branches. Some weakening is desirable, since this is the area where you want close internodes in the lower branch extensions. Once the leader is removed, the lower branches just go gonzo, and a plethora of new buds will appear on wha'ts left. I just shipped a beautiful nishiki pine today that had it's leader cut out last year ('96 cutting grown plant). There were new breaks all over the place and about a 2 inch caliper base. This really isn't very fast since I keep them in containers and don't work very hard to make them grow fast. Graydon would probably have had a four inch base or even bigger in this time period. The pines at Oregon Bonsai farm seem to putting on three to four inch bases in seven years. I bought some!

Brent
EvergreenGardenworks.com
see our blog at http://BonsaiNurseryman.typepad.com
 

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Shohin
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Some weakening is desirable, since this is the area where you want close internodes in the lower branch extensions.
Thanks Brent. This is actually a very profound statement. It also makes sense that you want as much growth out of the sacrifice in the pot as you can, while you do want some weakening of the sacrifice while in the ground. That I guess is the difference between what I stated - with older trees in the field vs. younger trees in a pot - which is where I have a wee bit more experience.
 
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darrellw

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Thanks everyone for the input! I will cut/pull a few needles around the lower branches just to make sure they get plenty of air and light, but otherwise leave them alone (other than to feed like crazy).

-Darrell
 

bonsai barry

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Have you seen a "thunderhead" bonsai? I've seen some beautiful ones in Japanese gardens but never as bonsai. I'm curious if they would develop the "thunderhead" shape.
 

darrellw

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Have you seen a "thunderhead" bonsai? I've seen some beautiful ones in Japanese gardens but never as bonsai. I'm curious if they would develop the "thunderhead" shape.
No, I have not. Just going from the description that Brent has in his catalog.

-Darrell
 

Ris

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Hi, any updates to this thunderhead?

I got 1 from club auction which I plan to use the scions on another pine.
;)
 

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