Japanese Black Pine

delmount

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So I’m new to the site here, but have been playing around with bonsai for a couple of years now. I’m at the point where I thought it would be good to acquire some more traditional bonsai material, so I ordered a JBP sapling. It arrived today and it overall seems to be in good shape and healthy.

The trunk is actually a little thicker than I expected (1 cm), but it’s also very STRAIGHT. There are a number of nice branches growing in at the top where the trunk was previously chopped. Here’s the question: what is my next step with this little tree? Do I repot it and work on shaping the trunk line using the new growth on top? Should I plant it in the ground and thicken it up before chopping the trunk again at some point down the line? Other ideas?
 

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0soyoung

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Two possibilities.
  1. Wrap some wire (Cu dia approx 1/3 the stem dia.) around the 'trunk' and bend/kink it into a shape you like. At this time of year the cambium is fairly thick, which means the bark will 'slip' or, IOW, is easily damaged. However, if you're the least bit careful you can do it without creating damage that will easily disappear over the coming 5-ish years. To be extra cautious wait until fall or late winter to do this.
  2. Make a 'zig-zag' trunk by relying on (or trusting there will sometime be) a low bud that will grow into a shoot that that you can use to create the second section of the trunk (the zag, if you wish), in which case you just patiently wait for it to grow. That is, thicken the section of trunk coming out of the ground.
I would wire it and bend that 'trunk' into some sort of curvy shape. In the process I may learn why people don't style trees during the growing season (it will 'heal') or maybe I find out that it is not such a big deal - let's find out. Then be careful not to overwater it (needles will turn yellow). Get it growing vigorously and it will likely pop low buds next year. Come next year or the sometime up to 5 years from now, say, I'll have a bunch of low branches and a really tall fat trunk. I can stay with the curvy thing I created or lop it off down to a pair of low buds and play this game all over again to create the second or zag trunk segment. That is pretty much how it goes other than some people don't like wiring trunks. I like curvy, even if it is just a hint of it left.

The only other choice you have to exercise is deciding if you want an exposed root design or not. If you do, you'll need to plant it in a tube filled with pebbles atop a pot/collander/pond-basket of your favorite substrate the next time you repot, whether it be later this coming summer or next spring.

So, that is 3 choices (not all of which are mutually exclusive) to make. Otherwise, your next move is to keep it healthy and growing vigorously - the present trunk will be sacrificial growth for the most part.
 

sorce

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Welcome to Crazy!

Sorce
 

clem

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hello you have a nice tree to begin with!
i would let the sacrifice trunk grow, and use the low buds to make the future tunk line (clip and grow). This way you have a larger base and tapper. And you can make a shohin or let the new trunk grow more and have a higher tree.

 

Shibui

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Must bear in mind that black pine will not reliably bud on bare wood so low shoots are gold and must be encouraged. You have some weak shoots low on the trunk but they will stay weak and maybe even die if the top shoots are allowed to grow really strong.
I guess the upper branches are too high to be useful as primary branches. It would need to be grown into quite a large bonsai to make use of such a high first branch.
The main trunk will be valuable as a sacrifice branch to thicken the trunk so I would probably leave it for now but weaken the top shoots by pruning them in half this summer.

in the meantime you can wire and bend the main trunk if you wish. Bending will automatically reduce the length but won't do anything for taper and it is unlikely you will be really satisfied with the results which is fine because it can be a sacrifice branch.

The smaller low shoots are the ones to watch and shape. They will need occasional pruning to maintain compact growth and plenty of shoots but that can be next year or the one after.
 

Ryceman3

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It really depends what you want. If it’s a bigger tree then grow on (in the ground for faster results), but if a shohin or smaller tree, use the main trunk (red) as your sacrifice and focus on the area circled in yellow to develop new shoots (blue) while the trunk thickens. Wire and shape a bit if you like, and possibly look at reducing needle count on the sacrifice to encourage the growth down low to strengthen.
64F7C781-FE03-4F07-8A73-F01A883A9817.jpeg

EDIT : doubling up a little on shibui’s post, sorry... we posted at the same time!
 

delmount

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Thanks, everyone, for the input on this little tree! I think I will aim to develop the lower branches, using the (current) trunk as a sacrifice to thicken things up. Extra "Tip of the hat" to Shibui and Ryceman3 for the suggestion to weaken the top shoots through summer pruning.
 

River's Edge

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So I’m new to the site here, but have been playing around with bonsai for a couple of years now. I’m at the point where I thought it would be good to acquire some more traditional bonsai material, so I ordered a JBP sapling. It arrived today and it overall seems to be in good shape and healthy.

The trunk is actually a little thicker than I expected (1 cm), but it’s also very STRAIGHT. There are a number of nice branches growing in at the top where the trunk was previously chopped. Here’s the question: what is my next step with this little tree? Do I repot it and work on shaping the trunk line using the new growth on top? Should I plant it in the ground and thicken it up before chopping the trunk again at some point down the line? Other ideas?
Let it grow, wire in the late summer or early fall. not now. No need to prune above the lower area is well exposed to the sun. it is ok if the lower branches grow slowly at this stage as it needs to grow for another four or five years before that becomes a concern. If you wish to thicken the trunk faster, reduce whorls on the sacrifice leader keeping the apical bud and one or two side buds. This encourages lengthening which thickens the trunk faster than allowing all lateral shoots on the sacrifice leader to develop.
You can repot into a larger container for better growth. because it is a very young tree the repot should be fine at this time of year. Spread the roots to help form a better nebari when you repot and limit root pruning for this first transfer! Or plant in the ground for even faster growth. When you repot place a wire in position to wire in the fall that is anchored to the bottom of the container or set in the soil at an angle to make application easier. For a I cm trunk I would use #8 copper wire. This will give you enough strength for good movement in the trunk. But wait for late summer, early fall before wiring. If you try to introduce much movement you will damage the trunk at this time of year.
For grow out this is an image to keep in mind, the tree is seven years old with lower branching and a strong apical sacrifice to continue trunk growth. Trunk is about 2 1/2 inches at this point. Your tree is four or five years from this point. The lower portion is hidden by the branching or you would see the movement from wiring in second or third year of development. Second picture shows progress with a tree two or three years older than the one in the first picture.
Hope the above makes sense! Best in bonsai
IMG_1148.JPGIMG_1416.JPG
 
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@River's Edge it looks like you wired the trunk for just the first 6"-8", right? My first JBP is about half the size of @delmount's right now, but otherwise looks practically identical low shoots and all. I am starting to contemplate my next move this fall with some heavy wire.

Thanks!
 

River's Edge

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@River's Edge it looks like you wired the trunk for just the first 6"-8", right? My first JBP is about half the size of @delmount's right now, but otherwise looks practically identical low shoots and all. I am starting to contemplate my next move this fall with some heavy wire.

Thanks!
It depends, the picture is one example of over 500 pines in development so the process is varied. As a general rule I try to get movement low down within the first 3-4 inches for smaller trees, The I change my approach for medium and larger trees. basically it only makes sense to wire the portion that will be retained when a new leader is selected to begin taper and change of direction in the design. This distance varies as indicated above. Also it is important to vary the movement and keep it within appropriate or desired style for species or end goals. ie: typically more gentle movements for taller or more slender trees. Less movement for pines than junipers which are known for twisty characteristics.
Each grower will have their particular preferences, not to say one is right or wrong.
One also needs to understand that low shoots and trunk back budding is more frequent in younger stock so the cut back of sacrifice leaders and branches should occur within certain time frames for the best results! Low shoots in the first three or four inches will rarely be of use in final design on a pine.
 

Adair M

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It depends, the picture is one example of over 500 pines in development so the process is varied. As a general rule I try to get movement low down within the first 3-4 inches for smaller trees, The I change my approach for medium and larger trees. basically it only makes sense to wire the portion that will be retained when a new leader is selected to begin taper and change of direction in the design. This distance varies as indicated above. Also it is important to vary the movement and keep it within appropriate or desired style for species or end goals. ie: typically more gentle movements for taller or more slender trees. Less movement for pines than junipers which are known for twisty characteristics.
Each grower will have their particular preferences, not to say one is right or wrong.
One also needs to understand that low shoots and trunk back budding is more frequent in younger stock so the cut back of sacrifice leaders and branches should occur within certain time frames for the best results! Low shoots in the first three or four inches will rarely be of use in final design on a pine.
If the goal is for a Shohin JBP (8 inches tall or less), then low branches are of utmost importance!

That said, novices should start with larger pines. Once the proper techniques are mastered, THEN try the small trees. Small JBP are difficult, and to be successful requires diligent and experience.
 

Ryceman3

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Let it grow, wire in the late summer or early fall. not now. No need to prune above the lower area is well exposed to the sun. it is ok if the lower branches grow slowly at this stage as it needs to grow for another four or five years before that becomes a concern.
I was thinking more about redirecting energy back into the lower shoots when I mention thinning needles on the sacrifice, although sun exposure is a by-product of that. Those low shoots look pretty weak and I was thinking if the growth on the sacrifice is allowed to continue unheeded there is every chance the tree will jettison those little low shoots and focus on the strong parts that are contributing to the tree's development. It wants to be a big pine, so in reality it has no need for growth so low on the trunk ... thoughts?
 

River's Edge

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I was thinking more about redirecting energy back into the lower shoots when I mention thinning needles on the sacrifice, although sun exposure is a by-product of that. Those low shoots look pretty weak and I was thinking if the growth on the sacrifice is allowed to continue unheeded there is every chance the tree will jettison those little low shoots and focus on the strong parts that are contributing to the tree's development. It wants to be a big pine, so in reality it has no need for growth so low on the trunk ... thoughts?
Typically I thin needles to reduce shading on lower portions of the tree as indicated in the pictures I posted. The key is to encourage lengthening for trunk thickness at the same time. trunk thickness increases at a much faster rate if you do. In my experience if the tree is properly cared for and the lower area is open to the sun, the shoots will stay healthy and grow slowly. When you get to the development stage where you wish to encourage faster lower growth then it is advisable to prune more or remove more needles in the apical region.
it is a balance where one needs to gauge the highest priority and change as that evolves. I have not lost lower shoots due to excessive apical growth unless the lower shoots were shaded out.
 
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