JBP beginner question

crab apple

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N/W Florida
I have a JBP I bought off EBay 3 or 4 months ago. I figured I wouldn't have to know anything about turning it into a bonsai for at least a few years, just let it grow. Is this correct? Now I'm reading where I should put some motion in the stem while its still pliable. If this is correct should I wait till a little farther into spring and it has more vigor. When raising a bonsai from this young is the trunk chop method always utilized. I'm probably looking for a semi formal upright about 2 or 3 feet tall eventually or something kinda large, I do want there to be movement in the trunk. There's a cluster of candles forming at the top, about 6" tall that I assume it is going to branch out at. If so do I have to pick one and get rid of the rest eventually or is that part going to get chopped off eventually anyways.


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Imperial Masterpiece
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Yackandandah, Australia
So many questions and so many variables.....
There are always lots of ways to reach similar end points and that's true in bonsai as well so you'll find lots of different methods and ideas, most of which have some merit.
Some general observations on growing pines:
Pine stems are flexible for much longer than some species so can still be bent and twisted for several years. Probably best to wait for the needles to fall before wiring.
Pines grow clusters of branches at the start of each seasonal growth spurt. These clusters are known as 'whorls' and can cause reverse taper so be wary if leaving all branches. Normally I'd reduce clusters down to 2 or 3. One becomes the new trunk, 1 becomes a branch at that point and a third may be retained as a sacrifice branch to increase taper. Pine growth is a bit slower than some species so a few extra branches may not be a problem for a year or 2 and I usually let all the new buds open and grow through spring to see which ones grow well and in best directions.

Grow and wire can produce bends but I find that much needed taper in trunks and branches is easier to develop through repeated grow and chop cycles so almost all my pines have been chopped at some stage but that's not the only strategy to develop pine bonsai.


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Getting the roots spread out radially (if that's important to you), and having the trunk come out of the ground at an angle are my primary concerns the first couple of years. It won't hurt anything to wire the trunk even if you later choose to chop. Also, keep all the buds that may form low on the trunk.
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