Kotobuki, upright

Wilson

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IMG_5492.JPG IMG_5493.JPG IMG_5494.JPG IMG_5495.JPG kotobuki1.JPG kotobuki2.JPG Hey folks, I have just returned from my first trip to a nursery in the new year, and wanted to get a thread started. Here is the black pine kotobuki I picked up. It has a visible graft at it's base, but I am ok to grow this and hope it blends in the future. I am stoked to have an opportunity to work on a more formal upright tree. It still has it's sacrifice branch growing, and I was hoping on some opinions as to when to remove it. I am not too concerned with beefing up the trunk, and from what I've heard these are slower to develop. This will also be my first foray into japanese black pines, pretty excited to implement all the great information from the resources of this site.
 

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MichaelS

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It's a nice little tree. From my experience, kotobui has a very strong upright habit (and needle like leaves) They are much slower than standard JBP but the have a bark character all their own. Vert light in colour, but still rugged.
I grafted a few of these a couple of years back and I'm still trying to work out how to handle the upright habit. I don't want to force them too much against their nature if possible.
The other good thing about them is that they bud bag with extreme ease regardless of when or where you cut. Ramification certainly won't be a problem!
As for removing the sacrifice branch on your tree, do it now or do it in 5 years...up to you!
Personally if you are going to start working on it immediately, I would think about reducing the length of all the branches significantly as they are already too long for the trunk thickness IMO
Make sure you keep us posted on this one!
 

Bonsai Nut

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It's a black pine graft (ie black pine on black pine) so give it time and it should disappear. It looks very clean to me.

Kotobuki throws leggy growth and you will have a challenge to get it to bulk up. Good news is that it is a prolific budder and will ramify pretty quickly. I have yet to see a really big kotobuki, but maybe I just need to get out more :) Still it is a very friendly black pine to work on and is a little more forgiving than other varieties. I have a couple. Expect short, stiff needles that remain a deep forest green.
 

Wilson

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It's a nice little tree. From my experience, kotobui has a very strong upright habit (and needle like leaves) They are much slower than standard JBP but the have a bark character all their own. Vert light in colour, but still rugged.
I grafted a few of these a couple of years back and I'm still trying to work out how to handle the upright habit. I don't want to force them too much against their nature if possible.
The other good thing about them is that they bud bag with extreme ease regardless of when or where you cut. Ramification certainly won't be a problem!
As for removing the sacrifice branch on your tree, do it now or do it in 5 years...up to you!
Personally if you are going to start working on it immediately, I would think about reducing the length of all the branches significantly as they are already too long for the trunk thickness IMO
Make sure you keep us posted on this one!
Thanks for the input! The grower mentioned how well these handle branch trimming, I now need to study the tree and select branches. I agree with you that we can't try to force the tree wholly away from their upright growth, just adjust it to fit a design. I know I would like to remove the sacrifice, was more curious if others would encourage me to keep it for a few seasons. Thanks again!
 

just.wing.it

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That's a nice little starter there Wilson!
Good luck! Can't wait to see where you take it.
I also went to a bonsai nursery yesterday, saw some great stuff, but didn't pull the trigger on anything.
I might wait till May and revisit the whole idea of buying one.
 

Wilson

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That's a nice little starter there Wilson!
Good luck! Can't wait to see where you take it.
I also went to a bonsai nursery yesterday, saw some great stuff, but didn't pull the trigger on anything.
I might wait till May and revisit the whole idea of buying one.
I know the feelingwhen you know you want to purchase, but don't have anything that really demands to be bought. Almost every time I go to a nursery, I spend so much time looking around comparing trees. When we work hard for the little bit of money for our hobby, we gotta be taking our time choosing.
 

Adair M

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If you want to make it a formal upright, now is a good time to make the first chop. Remove the sacrifice leader, and choose a new one to take its place. The trunk should be as straight as possible, with no reverse taper. It should not even lean forward like most bonsai. Think "Christmas Tree".

I suggest getting a piece of rebar and straightening out the little curves in the trunk. Wrapping the trunk to the rebar with raffia, or the black plastic rope (strapping) they use in Japan would work. Wrap very tight to straighten the trunk. Make sure the new apex continues the line.

Cut back the branches to keep foliage close to the trunk. Wire the lower branches out level, not downward.

Repot into a flatter, wider pot or grow box. You could use a colander. Do a half bare root when you repot to get it into good soil. Make sure to spread out the roots, and do whatever you need to do to get even, radial roots at the nebari.

There are some good articles in old International Bonsai magazines describing exactly how to develop FU Black pines. I'll see if I can find some.

Good FU pines are far more difficult than they appear. The "rules" are more strict, and trees seem to have a mind of their own sometimes. Many will call these trees "cookie cutter". But you hardly ever see any. At least, not good ones very often. If you can make a good FU, you'll develop the skills to make just about any style.
 

MichaelS

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Wilson

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It would be great if it was easy enough to airlayer the sacrifice branch! Like you said Adair, if it was easy we would see tons!
 
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The key word is "possible". JBP are rather difficult to layer. If it were easy, we'd see more of them. But it can be done.
We all hate grafts. We all hate risk. Choices. Will try jbp kotobuki, jbp kyokko and jwp kokonoe. If one takes i'll be more than happy. I have a kotobuki in pot and one in the ground. They are slow, that's for sure.
 
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