JBP in tropical areas

Woody

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Hi all

I'm currently trying to grow JBPs in the tropics. Consequently they don't seem to have much of of a dormancy period. They basically grow all year round. Thus their growth pattern seems to differ significantly from the temperate climate advice generally given on forums and books.

Considering that most advice regarding repotting pines centres around doing it while the tree is dormant, this seems irrelevant for JBPs in the tropics.

So when then should repotting occur?

Also how do you manage needle length when the growing season is so long? When would it be advisable to cut candles?

Any advice would be deeply appreciated.

Woody
 
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I would have to say, that there are times I have had some of the same probs. We do get kind of a winter here in Florida, then a spring that lasts a day and then it's summer again.
In my "oppinion", I would have to say It probally would not necessarily matter when these events are carried out... I would be sure to give it plenty of time to heal between such operations, and if in doubt wait.
ie: don't repot and decandle in the same year.
Also, I have found that, because of having a very long growing season, that besides decandling, I will at a later time go through and cut needles as well... My trees, seem to get so dense if I do not do this, and I personally prefer this to pulling off nexcess needdles. I have found that if I cut the needles, they will fall of in due time and will often premote further back budding. If it is extremely dry where you are at, do not go through the whole tree with this process at one time, alot of sap loss will occur weakening the tree.
You might have to kinda experiment a little. I do remember watching video of work being done on pines in Austrailia, so somebody has got the answers your looking for... Good Luck!!!
 

Woody

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Thanks Stacy

Thanks for the reply Stacy.

JBPs are grown widely as bonsai in the more temperate parts of Australia (USDA zone equivalent 7-8) but my problem is that I'm up in the tropics. Thus the advice from fellow bonsai growers in Australia sometimes is not relevant. In fact I've been told in very "authoritarian" tones by very experienced growers in my very own city that JBPs don't survive in my climate. However that may not be true as evidenced by superb pines coming from Hawaii from greats like the late Haruo "Papa" Kaneshiro. I have also seen pictures of JBP from the Philippines and Indonesia.

I had no problems when I was living in a cooler climate where a dormant season was clearly evident, but now that is no longer.

I should add that where I now live, I would be considered to be USDA zone 11-12 I think. This is similar to Hawaii I've be told. Basically we get a wet hot season with average min-max temps of 75-88 degrees and a cool dry season with average min-max temps 55-77 degrees. Our rain is focused during the wet season during Dec-Feb for a total annual rainfall of around 45 inches.
 

Bill S

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Not to snow on your volcano, but Hawaii has snow, if those guys lived near/on them, there could have clearly been dormant cool/cold periods.
 

Woody

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Bill's right...

Bill you are absolutely right. It does snow in Hawaii but only on the three highest volcanoes: Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea and Haleakala. These volcanoes are in the range of 10 000 to 13000 feet in height however and the snow lasts only for a few days at a time. Tropical countries like Indonesia also get snow but only at the tops of their very highest mountains. It's more of a factor of altitude instead of latitude.
 

greerhw

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Hey mate, sorry to rain on your parade, but JBP need a dormant period. Plus if you can keep them alive, it will be almost impossible to control needle length in your climate.
Harry
 
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treebeard55

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Tropical countries like Indonesia also get snow... It's more of a factor of altitude instead of latitude.
Ecuador has some beautiful snowcaps. The sunsets and sunrises, reflected off them, are splendid. But permanent snow and glaciers are found only above 16,000 feet there. :D

I've speculated about your question (in case I ever moved back to Ecuador.) A couple of random thoughts: you might try a forced dormancy in old refrigerator; and, you could time repotting to coincide with the start of the tree's most vigorous growth spurt -- maybe at the transition from cool-dry to hot-wet.
 

Bill S

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Could be that the tropical climates keep them in an air conditioned solarium, but you do see them around in these places (for me it's in books) but that doesn't mean that they stay there long, or stay healthy.

Vance Woods gets around a lot, he could be a good source of an answer for this.
 

yamins

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At least some people grow JBP very successfuly in hawaii -- have a look at this great video by Linsday Farr about Papa Kaneshiro ... http://vimeo.com/3466073

I don't know if he's in a particularly cold area of Hawaii, but he seems to have no trouble.
 

yamins

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Sorry -- I didn't read the thread carefully enough -- indeed you know all about Papa Kaneshiro. I would think that since you're actually in Australia, the person you should look to for advice might by Lindsay Farr. He also seems to grow excellent JBPs, though he's in Melbourne area.
 
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me and treebeard started a discussion on another thread about whether or not trees actual needed a "winter", I had suggested they do, and treebeard had beg to differ with me, because that in the tropics there really isn't any seasons... After some thought on it, I believe that treebeard was actually correct... For I too have have lived in the trops. and witness trees growing without ever any dormancy period.

Having said that... Woody, I dont' think you are going to have as big of a prob. with not having a winter, as you are going to have making sure your soil drys out. The pines really don't like a lot of water at their roots, we get a fair bit of rain here, and I have added even more grit to my already fast draining soil...

I think that if you if you are unable to find the answers you are looking for, you might have to be the one who starts the answers... It's obviously not impossible to grow a pine in the trops. if you are doing it, I think the water issue like mentioned would be the real threat to the tree, other than that I believe if you perform opperations at the wrong time of year, the tree will tell you and will prob. just be sluggish... Then next time you will know not to do that??? I often learn better through my mistakes...
Just make sure you don't do to many things at one time and give some time to heal between...
 

rockm

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"because that in the tropics there really isn't any seasons"

That is a little black and white. There aren't "winter" or "summer" per se, but there are periods when trees are more likely to put on growth, like monsoonal periods, etc. Tropical SPECIES are capable of growing with minimal pauses in activity, but if you plunk a temperate zone species into the tropics (depending on the species and even specific varieties of some species) generally you can expect the tree to decline and/or die without a dormant. Keeping a Japanese maple in Puerto Rico is not easy...
 

Woody

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Thanks for the replies

It's been listening to all the view points.

It's true that some species need a dormancy. Certainly our experience in Australia is that certain trees don't do well without a dormant period. Deciduous trees are a classic example. Maples certainly don't do well up here and while there is a mature stand of liquidambar here, they are by no means happy looking. Chinese elm by comparison seem to do okay but they are admittedly a subcategory unto themselves. (BTW I've seen Chinese elms growing well in Singapore and that's just 1 degree north of the equator). Japanese white pines are also less common in Australia generally because of their demand for dormancy. Whether JBPs need dormancy is as the thread has shown, a matter of debate.

Not all species need the classic four seasons seen in temperate climate plants. Tropical plants as rightly pointed out by Rockm cycle between growth spurts and quieter periods. Certainly Australian native plants are well known for it. Thus repotting for them can happen in these "in-between" periods which can occur up to six times a year.

Now I know that there have been Hawaiian bonsai growers who do post on here and their insight who be useful in solving this question on whether JBPs need a dormancy (even one that has to be artificially induced). So please hands up please...

Stacy - you're right on the need for well drained bonsai soil especially in the tropics. The need between sufficient aeration/drainage and water holding capacity is paramount and will vary according to climate - hence the perpetual argument about the best soil mix. These arguments in my humble opinion really come down to your personal climate, tree species, plant positioning aspect and watering habits. So in a way if it works for you, that's the right answer - at least for you. Here I use a fairly open mix. The pines have just been through our wettest summer in years and not one root rot. They haven't dried out either in our dry season. I'm going to try diatomite which is quite popular amongst Aussies. Google it and I'm sure you'll find info.

Yamins - I've also emailed Lindsay. Let's see what he says.

Bill S - Let's hope Vance sees this thread and shares with us his experience on the topic.

Altogether it's interesting to see people's understanding of plant physiology.
 

mcpesq817

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In addition to dormancy issues, I would worry about increased fungal issues if by tropics you mean an area with high humidity.
 

rockm

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"jbp can adapt in hawaii. its been done. isn't that proof enough?"

I'd say well, yes and err, no. Hawaii isn't Ecuador, or Thailand or Malaysia. Each has different micro climates that different plants can adapt to, or not...Hawaii and Ecuador have mountainous regions that offer cooler conditions...

JBP may have "adapted" (which is kind of the wrong term since the plant doesn't really adapt as much as tolerate climates outside its native range. Real adaptation takes millions of years) to Hawaii, but it is certainly worth understanding the details of how it has.

JBP is a maritime species of Japan's southern islands, evolving in a coastal climate that is humid, pretty stable (due to the oceans' influence)and sometimes hot. Climates that approximate those original conditions would allow the tree a fighting chance.
 
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yamins

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Woody -- You might also think about asking Taiwanese growers if you know any. They grow excellent JBP there, and the climate is quite similar to the one you described.
 

treebeard55

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Woody, this specific topic seems to an uncharted one. No one who has posted has any personal knowledge of how well JBP will grow in the true tropics. So may I suggest that you do some pioneering?

My suggestion is that you try different approaches with different specimens. (I'd use younger, less expensive plants, so you're not out as much on the ones that die.) Give some an artificially-induced winter for 6 weeks; let others go without. Try different times for repotting, and see how the trees do.

In a few years -- maybe less -- you'll have some answers. Not only will that benefit you, but you'll become the go-to guy on this question! :)
 

Woody

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Yamins - thanks for the link. I've already emailed Budi and am currently awaiting a reply. I've also contacted Lindsay Farr. Unfortunately he was unable to give any advice beyond what was said on the video with Papa Kaneshiro.

Treebeard - thanks for the advice. I doubt I could become a pioneer especially when others have grown JBP in the tropics already. It's a nice sentiment however. Let's see if someone with experience will share their knowledge with us.
 
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