JBP needle pulling

Gsquared

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I have a confession. It is my dirty little bonsai secret. I’ve beeing doing bonsai for a long time and I still get tied in knots over needle plucking on JBP. Probably because I attributed over zealous needle pulling to the death of my first pine. In retrospect, it was probably something else, but I’ve been gun shy on it ever since.

Originally I was taught that needle pulling was to “allow light and air” in to the tree. Now I think we are more in agreement that it more about balancing strength and the light and air philosophy is more of a secondary side effect. Since killing my first pine I am sure I have never plucked enough needles in the fall, though I’ve done it poorly for years. Probably one of many reasons I’ve never shown one of my black pines. They’re just not that good.

I’d like to learn more about how much to pull, start doing it with confidence and doing it right. My trees are finally gaining strength after a few years wars of neglect. Had great back budding this year so I think it is time to do it correctly.

How much do you pluck? Can people post picks of their trees post needle pulling? That would be a great start to get me in the right track.
 

Anthony

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Tropics here -

Needle pulling - [a] removing old needles to make the tree look tidy,
April / May, tree is left with all green needles and it replaces needles
into September.

[ b ] Tree is very ramified, and needles are taken down to 3 pairs
per branchlet.
Objective to see when we can get them to come in at 1 inch in length.

Just did the new tests - first tree done to the 3 pairs last week.
Next tree will be the end of October and then another for November.

Observation -
Cut a branchlet short 12 August - 10 days later bud appeared
However no needle extension until 4th of September.
Needles presently at 1.5 inches.

Tree is so ramified, candles are 1/4 inch or less.

Looking for results on 3 pairs work about the end of October
beginning of November.
Good Day
Anthony

Image to come.
 

River's Edge

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I have a confession. It is my dirty little bonsai secret. I’ve beeing doing bonsai for a long time and I still get tied in knots over needle plucking on JBP. Probably because I attributed over zealous needle pulling to the death of my first pine. In retrospect, it was probably something else, but I’ve been gun shy on it ever since.

Originally I was taught that needle pulling was to “allow light and air” in to the tree. Now I think we are more in agreement that it more about balancing strength and the light and air philosophy is more of a secondary side effect. Since killing my first pine I am sure I have never plucked enough needles in the fall, though I’ve done it poorly for years. Probably one of many reasons I’ve never shown one of my black pines. They’re just not that good.

I’d like to learn more about how much to pull, start doing it with confidence and doing it right. My trees are finally gaining strength after a few years wars of neglect. Had great back budding this year so I think it is time to do it correctly.

How much do you pluck? Can people post picks of their trees post needle pulling? That would be a great start to get me in the right track.
The answer to your question depends on the stage your tree is at in terms of development or refinement. If your tree is in the refinement stage. The key is to be able to assess the current strength and balance of the tree. If you are uncertain a reasonable approach is to divide the tree into three zones based on the strength of the foliage. Apical area of JBP is typically strongest, call this Zone 1.
Middle section on the outside is typically the next strongest , call this Zone 2. The lower portion and interior is typically the weakest, call this Zone 3. Start by removing all the old needles. The in Zone 1 leave 4 pair of needles on each group. in Zone 2 leave 5 pair of needles, In Zone 3 leave 6 pair of needles.
If your trees are still basically in developmental stages, desiring more interior buds and reducing back then the approach is different. One tries to keep more foliage while allowing light and air into the interior. keeping needles in areas where back budding is desired. Removing needles from bottom of the branch and some of the top needles. Wiring the branches down to open up the interior to light. thinning the exterior foliage to reduce shading of the interior. Keep more needles per group as the focus is strength and vigour not balancing! So initially one might keep 6 or seven pair in Zone 1. 8 or 9 in Zone 2, 10 or 11 pair in Zone 3.
I would suggest that their is no magic formulae, just a reasoned approach that is adaptable to the response of the tree and the stage it is at. If you post a picture of a pine you are wondering about it would be possible to suggest a starting point for that tree based on what stage it appears to be at and what the desired outcome is.
Hope these ramblings make sense, Posting a picture of a tree that is at a different stage than yours might not be of much assistance.
 

Adair M

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And it matters if you decandled during the summer.
 

Rodrigo

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And it matters if you decandled during the summer.
Thanks for pointing that out Adair. Can you explain a little on how you would treat them differently? I have pines that I decandled and some I didn't so I'm interested to know the difference.
Thanks
 

Adair M

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Thanks for pointing that out Adair. Can you explain a little on how you would treat them differently? I have pines that I decandled and some I didn't so I'm interested to know the difference.
Thanks
If you decandled, that means you’re in the refinement stage of JBP development. So, pull all the old (2017) needles. This opens the tree up to allow sunlight in to keep interior foliage alive. Also makes it easier to wire. Go thru all the new summer candles and where more than two new candles grew, thin to two. Then wire. Wiring will open up the branches, allow more sunlight which promotes backbudding at old joints.

If you did not decandled, this means you are still growing. Old needles provide more solar panels (food) for the tree to grow. Remove the downward facing needles, and thin the rest of the old needles to where you keep 1/3 to 1/2 of the old needles. Keep a pair of needles where you might want a back bud to pop. No guarantees, but sometimes a “needle bud” will pop where you leave a pair of needles. If you see a place that has 3 needles, it WILL pop a bud! Keep it if you want a new branch there. Remove it if you don’t.
 

Rodrigo

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If you decandled, that means you’re in the refinement stage of JBP development. So, pull all the old (2017) needles. This opens the tree up to allow sunlight in to keep interior foliage alive. Also makes it easier to wire. Go thru all the new summer candles and where more than two new candles grew, thin to two. Then wire. Wiring will open up the branches, allow more sunlight which promotes backbudding at old joints.

If you did not decandled, this means you are still growing. Old needles provide more solar panels (food) for the tree to grow. Remove the downward facing needles, and thin the rest of the old needles to where you keep 1/3 to 1/2 of the old needles. Keep a pair of needles where you might want a back bud to pop. No guarantees, but sometimes a “needle bud” will pop where you leave a pair of needles. If you see a place that has 3 needles, it WILL pop a bud! Keep it if you want a new branch there. Remove it if you don’t.
Thank you for the easy to understand explanation!
 

KiwiPlantGuy

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If you decandled, that means you’re in the refinement stage of JBP development. So, pull all the old (2017) needles. This opens the tree up to allow sunlight in to keep interior foliage alive. Also makes it easier to wire. Go thru all the new summer candles and where more than two new candles grew, thin to two. Then wire. Wiring will open up the branches, allow more sunlight which promotes backbudding at old joints.

If you did not decandled, this means you are still growing. Old needles provide more solar panels (food) for the tree to grow. Remove the downward facing needles, and thin the rest of the old needles to where you keep 1/3 to 1/2 of the old needles. Keep a pair of needles where you might want a back bud to pop. No guarantees, but sometimes a “needle bud” will pop where you leave a pair of needles. If you see a place that has 3 needles, it WILL pop a bud! Keep it if you want a new branch there. Remove it if you don’t.

Hi Adair M,
Just wanted to say “SIGH” another 5-10 years before my JBP’s are old enough to play with the Big dogs.
So I have done the first branch set up, and wondering if I need to set up a next (2nd) branch then a sacrifice trunk etc or can I do both. I have researched all this, but still trying to understand the process.
Many thanks in advance,
Charles
 

Adair M

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Hi Adair M,
Just wanted to say “SIGH” another 5-10 years before my JBP’s are old enough to play with the Big dogs.
So I have done the first branch set up, and wondering if I need to set up a next (2nd) branch then a sacrifice trunk etc or can I do both. I have researched all this, but still trying to understand the process.
Many thanks in advance,
Charles
It’s difficult to say what the next step is without knowing what stage it’s in now! A picture or two would help.
 

KiwiPlantGuy

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It’s difficult to say what the next step is without knowing what stage it’s in now! A picture or two would help.

Ok, I will send you a pm, as I don’t want to intrude on this thread
 

KiwiPlantGuy

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Yes please do! We can all learn from this!

Hi Rodrigo,
My stick in pots are a bit shy, but I should be able to talk myself into this at the weekend.

My wiring job was a little vigorous in the bending part last season but with 20 odd I am trying some lesser bends this Spring/Summe. Spring is springing in NZ.
My logic suggests the trees are most active/most sappy and bending should be straight forward.
Charles
 

Adair M

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Hi Rodrigo,
My stick in pots are a bit shy, but I should be able to talk myself into this at the weekend.

My wiring job was a little vigorous in the bending part last season but with 20 odd I am trying some lesser bends this Spring/Summe. Spring is springing in NZ.
My logic suggests the trees are most active/most sappy and bending should be straight forward.
Charles
The best time for doing heavy bends is in the fall.
 

Gsquared

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Thanks everyone. Yes, this is a thread that is for learning, so definitely ask and answer as much on the subject as you want or can. It’s not hijacking at all.

As far as refinement, I’ve had all of these trees for at least 10-15 years and all are old enough to be nicely barked up. I did show one in the past , but had a disaster with a broken apex, so had to start over on it. So, these are all trees that have been developing for a while, but went through 4-5 seasons of minimal care (read, neglect) when my partner was very ill. I spent the last three years strengthening them: feeding cutting back when appropriate to encourage back budding (got it, yeah!) No, didn’t ground grow them because I was planning on moving and the ground in my yard was pretty much rock in San Diego. The are pretty strong at this point, but need restyling and some serious needle thinning. I’d just like to do it more confidently this time around.

Thanks for the reminder about 3 needled clusters budding out. I totally forgot that.
 

Gsquared

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Oh yes, I did decandle and left only the new backbuds, and smaller weaker candles in the interior. Had good budding and needles are coming, slowly and short. Some of the weaker buds and back budding grew medium-long needles. Probably will need to cut those candles next year.
 

Adair M

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Oh yes, I did decandle and left only the new backbuds, and smaller weaker candles in the interior. Had good budding and needles are coming, slowly and short. Some of the weaker buds and back budding grew medium-long needles. Probably will need to cut those candles next year.
I think you would benefit by watching Boon’s video series on JBP. He has a DVD series where he demonstrates the appropriate techniques at the right time of year. Go to www.bonsaiboon.com. The videos can now be directly streamed to your computer. Watching these should greatly increase your confidence and technique.
 

Jim G

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Thanks everyone. Yes, this is a thread that is for learning, so definitely ask and answer as much on the subject as you want or can. It’s not hijacking at all.

As far as refinement, I’ve had all of these trees for at least 10-15 years and all are old enough to be nicely barked up. I did show one in the past , but had a disaster with a broken apex, so had to start over on it. So, these are all trees that have been developing for a while, but went through 4-5 seasons of minimal care (read, neglect) when my partner was very ill. I spent the last three years strengthening them: feeding cutting back when appropriate to encourage back budding (got it, yeah!) No, didn’t ground grow them because I was planning on moving and the ground in my yard was pretty much rock in San Diego. The are pretty strong at this point, but need restyling and some serious needle thinning. I’d just like to do it more confidently this time around.

Thanks for the reminder about 3 needled clusters budding out. I totally forgot that.
Hey Gsquared, I'm in the same boat but for not as long as you. I've been scratching my head for 2.5 years trying to figure the basics out. I've been told to join a club but no time yet for that so I just try to read and watch what I can. I should give Boons videos suggested here a look. My tree needs a lot of work but seem healthy so that's good I suppose. Please post a photo of your JBP. That always gets all kinds of feedback....
 

Rodrigo

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@Adair M I have a shohin Black Pine that was decandled, except for the bottom branch, before I bought it (the one from the "twisty black pine" thread). The bottom branch ended up not growing any candles this year, I should leave the needles on that one to try to get growth next year, right? 20181007_140958.jpg
As you can see some have needle cast though. Should I remove those and keep the healthy ones?
I've been spraying it throughout the season and so far none of this years needles seem infected
 

Adair M

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If you have no new growth, keep the needles. You could trim the brown part off.
 

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