Jwp advice on styling & timing

David wv

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I am pretty new to pines and would greatly appreciate some advice and help with a game plan for this tree. It is a grafted Miyajima, jwp supposedly 9-10 + yr out. I purchased it on ebay last spring. I potted into this pond basket right after I received it, as it was shipped without a pot. It had been in a 3 gal pot, so I was able to get it into the pond basket without disturbing the roots too much. It has grown freely since then. I have several questions. For developing a good trunk line, how much of the trunk should be removed, should it be cut back to the second or third whirl of branches? Also is it best to reduce the trunk all at once or in stages? What is the best way to strengthen those lower branches. Do the trunk chop or remove all of the branches above what I want to keep, only leaving a small amount of foliage at the very top of the tree? Or would that cause the tree to waste energy on pushing buds on the section of the trunk that I don't need? Another thing I need to know is the ideal time of the year to do this cutback and for this tree, should that cutback be this year or next year? It seems to have set a healthy amount of buds, a average of 2-3 on most of the growing tips, at the apex as many as 5-6, a few of the lower weaker branches maybe only 1 bud.
Sorry for the crappy badly lit pictures and I know you can only tell so much from a picture but any advice would be appreciated. If I need to take any more pictures, I can. One last thing, how does this graft compare in the world of good and bad grafts for bonsai?
IMG_20220115_183801_826.jpgIMG_20220115_183525_386.jpgIMG_20220115_183851_961.jpgIMG_20220115_184119_583.jpgIMG_20220115_183406_442.jpgIMG_20220115_183557_100.jpgIMG_20220115_184134_207.jpgIMG_20220115_183217_495.jpg
 

David wv

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Maybe I am asking to many questions at once. The main thing I need to know is, is it safe to remove 60-70% of the foliage all at once or would that weaken the tree too much? Or should I stretch it out over several years?
 

smjmsy00

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Hi, have a look at this book which is a pretty great source of information about pine bonsai.


I'm no expert, and percentages when it comes to foilage amounts are a bit subjective, but 60-70% sounds like too much; one hears "no more than 20-30%" a lot. I think with white pines in general you do cutbacks, etc, during dormancy or when approaching it - I'll need to refer back to the book linked above... really is a good read and collects a lot of authoritative information about both single and double flush pines.

Maybe this spring you should have a look at the roots and see if they need any adjustments before making too many aggressive plans/actions?

As for the graft union; you sure can tell that it is grafted, but I haven't seen enough examples to know if that is a good one or not.
 

smjmsy00

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also, I think @Brian Van Fleet has a very extensive thread on a grafted white pine he has been growing and preparing for over a decade.
 

David wv

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Hi, have a look at this book which is a pretty great source of information about pine bonsai.


I'm no expert, and percentages when it comes to foilage amounts are a bit subjective, but 60-70% sounds like too much; one hears "no more than 20-30%" a lot. I think with white pines in general you do cutbacks, etc, during dormancy or when approaching it - I'll need to refer back to the book linked above... really is a good read and collects a lot of authoritative information about both single and double flush pines.

Maybe this spring you should have a look at the roots and see if they need any adjustments before making too many aggressive plans/actions?

As for the graft union; you sure can tell that it is grafted, but I haven't seen enough examples to know if that is a good one or not.
Thank you, I will definitely look into getting that book, I have read his article on PINE BONSAI
FOLIAGE CONTROL, it is great.
When I put it in the pond basket I did reposition some surface roots but it have pretty nice radial roots, I thought. The graft does look weird I think, it is almost a gap between the root stock and the rest of tree. But it is nice and low, I hope it just a phase and will get better with time. But I really don't know anything about how conifer grafts look up close.
 

David wv

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also, I think @Brian Van Fleet has a very extensive thread on a grafted white pine he has been growing and preparing for over a decade.
Okay I will try to find that thread. I think saw a comment from @Brian Van Fleet on someone's thread, and he said that it was better to do one large cutback and let it recover, rather than doing it in several smaller stages but if I remember correctly he was talking about jbp. So I don't know if that applies to jwp or not. Thanks
 

Dav4

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With JWP like this one, the 2 main goals I see are thinning out the canopy and getting movement into those branches with wire while you can. The goal with the thinning should be to open up the canopy by cutting back to strong interior branches. This will, along with the wiring to improve movement and sun exposure, stimulate back budding which, in turn, will allow you to cut back further, building ramification and taper in the branches as you compact the silhouette. Strong branches have lots of buds and needles... they can be cut back harder then branches with fewer buds and needles. With this in mind, you'll be removing more foliage from the upper branches then from the lower ones. This is something you'll be carrying out throughout the canopy on a yearly basis. Just looking at the pictures, I'd guess you might want to remove 40-50% of the foliage in the upper 1/3 of the tree but significantly less as you move lower. Again, the more foliage present, the stronger the branch and the higher likely hood for back budding following a cut back... but the branch needs to be strong before cutting back to get that back budding.
 

David wv

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With JWP like this one, the 2 main goals I see are thinning out the canopy and getting movement into those branches with wire while you can. The goal with the thinning should be to open up the canopy by cutting back to strong interior branches. This will, along with the wiring to improve movement and sun exposure, stimulate back budding which, in turn, will allow you to cut back further, building ramification and taper in the branches as you compact the silhouette. Strong branches have lots of buds and needles... they can be cut back harder then branches with fewer buds and needles. With this in mind, you'll be removing more foliage from the upper branches then from the lower ones. This is something you'll be carrying out throughout the canopy on a yearly basis. Just looking at the pictures, I'd guess you might want to remove 40-50% of the foliage in the upper 1/3 of the tree but significantly less as you move lower. Again, the more foliage present, the stronger the branch and the higher likely hood for back budding following a cut back... but the branch needs to be strong before cutting back to get that back budding.
So what your saying is I should get the lower branches/whole tree stronger before reducing the trunk, by thinning mostly the upper section and wire the branches that I will be keeping in the long term?
This is kinda what I had in mind for the tree design, but I am open to any ideas.retouch_1643582501987.JPEG Because I think the upper 3/4 of the trunk is too straight, has large internodes and is too large to put any movement in.
Thank you for taking the time to help me out. As for thinning, would you wait till fall to thin or could I do that earlier in the growing season?
 

Dav4

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I'd wire now and plan on doing the chop this spring. Fwiw, my comments were made based on the assumption you were keeping most of the tree/trunk. I think your long term plan is fine but I probably wouldn't reduce any of the branches you're keeping as your proposed chop would be removing much of the tree. If you were keeping most of the tree, I'd say thinning now would be fine, but with that proposed chop, I'd wait to do any thinning until you see how the tree responds. If this were mine, I might go ahead and remove 50% of the branches above the new leader now and the rest with the chop... make sure you leave a stub.
 

David wv

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I'd wire now and plan on doing the chop this spring. Fwiw, my comments were made based on the assumption you were keeping most of the tree/trunk. I think your long term plan is fine but I probably wouldn't reduce any of the branches you're keeping as your proposed chop would be removing much of the tree. If you were keeping most of the tree, I'd say thinning now would be fine, but with that proposed chop, I'd wait to do any thinning until you see how the tree responds. If this were mine, I might go ahead and remove 50% of the branches above the new leader now and the rest with the chop... make sure you leave a stub.
Okay thank you. So it would be okay to do the chop in the spring? I've read on a couple different websites (bonsai4me and eisei-en) that say heavy pruning should be done in late summer through fall on pines but I know those guides can be very broad in their advice. I just want to get the maximum response to the chop, as far as back budding and not weakening the tree any more than possible. In your opinion, spring is a better time to do this? If so, does the timing matter much ; meaning, once the candles start to extend, as the buds start to swell or once new growth starts to harden off?
 

Dav4

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Okay thank you. So it would be okay to do the chop in the spring? I've read on a couple different websites (bonsai4me and eisei-en) that say heavy pruning should be done in late summer through fall on pines but I know those guides can be very broad in their advice. I just want to get the maximum response to the chop, as far as back budding and not weakening the tree any more than possible. In your opinion, spring is a better time to do this? If so, does the timing matter much ; meaning, once the candles start to extend, as the buds start to swell or once new growth starts to harden off?
I prefer big cut backs in early fall but spring works, too.
 

mrcasey

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Here's a thread from another forum from 2009:

Bjorn likes very late summer/very early fall for single flush. Walter Pall has no problem with late summer (August). I believe that Brent Walston is ok with late summer. There seems to be general agreement among bonsai cognoscenti that hard pruning for most pines can be done in late summer.

I was kind of hoping that one of the Boon people would weigh in on this.
 

David wv

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Here's a thread from another forum from 2009:

Bjorn likes very late summer/very early fall for single flush. Walter Pall has no problem with late summer (August). I believe that Brent Walston is ok with late summer. There seems to be general agreement among bonsai cognoscenti that hard pruning for most pines can be done in late summer.

I was kind of hoping that one of the Boon people would weigh in on this.
Thank you, that thread is interesting. What part of West Virginia are you in, if you don't mind me asking. I am in Monroe county. Just wondering if you got any tips for me, like what soil mix you use and where you get it from?
 

David wv

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Fall is the best time to chop and wire. I like your design. JWP develop slowly. Be patient.
If you were doing a chop like this how would you go about it? The tree is about 3 feet tall now and I would be removing ⅔ to ¾ of the foliage. Would you make the cut and remove all of it at one time? Or remove half of the branches/foliage above the cut point one year and the next year remove what is left?
 

Adair M

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Do it all at once. Leave a stub.
 

mrcasey

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Thank you, that thread is interesting. What part of West Virginia are you in, if you don't mind me asking. I am in Monroe county. Just wondering if you got any tips for me, like what soil mix you use and where you get it from?
I spend time between Wood and Braxton County. I'm probably the wrong guy to ask about optimal soil because I'm one of those reprobates who still uses turface and pine bark. My present mix is screened bark, turface, and perlite. For the past couple of years I've been experimenting with adding charcoal. My trees seem healthy, but maybe they'd be healthier with Boon mix? I really should do an experiment. I really struggle with dwarf cultivar Japanese white pine grafts. It may be a soil issue, but it may be the summer heat or something else.
 

Adair M

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After a hard prune, you want all the energy (growth) put into portions of the tree you are planning to keep. So, on a trunk chop, the new apex (or the next trunk section) will be what was a former branch, right? The tree has to figure out which branch will become dominant. There’s a lot of hormones and pathways that the tree has to reroute.

You see, there’s hormones in the trunk section that direct the cells there to make more wood to support more height. Branches get less of that hormone. If you chop the trunk, and a branch is going to be the new trunk, those branch cells have to be reprogrammed to become “trunk” rather than “branch”. The tree can do it, but takes resources for the tree to adapt. You don’t want to make the tree do this more often than it has to. At least, not until it’s close to it’s “final” form.

Pines are apical dominant. The topmost bud gets the most resources. The tree wants to grow tall. The tree knows that to get tall, the trunk must be strong. So, the hormone pathway is straight from the roots to the apex. If you want to fatten the trunk, don’t chop it! All the wood from the nebari to the apex will fatten if you just let the apex grow. Some people thing it’s the amount of foliage present that fattens the trunk. Not on pines. It’s the hormones in the pipeline between the nebari and the apex that fatten the truno.

See this picture:

2AE2625B-EAF8-42A2-B8BF-24374EFC7DD4.jpeg

These are pines grown at Telperion Farms. They’re 15 feet tall. Look how they strip those sacrifice trunks of side branches, and just let them grow tall. All of that is cut off later, but it builds a fat trunk down below. Here is what one of those trees looks like as a bonsai:

1B389F47-4BA4-4D68-BEC4-5D5A1301F0E4.jpeg
 
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