Loblolly Pine Pinus taeda

K5ATG

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I have been told that there is not much information out there for using loblolly pine as bonsai trees. So this is my effort to expand the knowledge base for these trees. So here I will showcase my many mistakes in growing one of these trees as a bonsai.

The Loblolly Tree is the fastest growing tree of the southern yellow pines and grows through out the south eastern United States. These pines can reach 100 feet tall and up to 5 feet in diameter.

I have many memories of these trees while growing up. Up until I was 10 I lived in a small town in Southeast Oklahoma in the Kiamichi Mountains. In the 1920's my Great Grandfather was an Indian Affairs Federal Agent and on Fathers Day he was shot to death in an ambush at the entrance to Clayton Lake State Park. So every year since then we have had our family reunion / feud there on Fathers Day. I grew up camping a lot at that state park. It is covered with many nice loblolly pines.
Kiamichi Mountians 25 May 2017 b.jpg
Kiamichi Mountains

Loblolly Pine Clayton Lake 26 June 2017.jpg
Loblolly's at Clayton Lake

For money we would go into the mountains and haul pulp wood with my grandparents. This was hard work and it turned my grandfather into super man in my eyes. One time the chain saw kicked back on him and "nicked" his leg. That was about lunch time and he never whimpered, moaned or anything, he just kept cutting wood until the job was done. After work we drove about 60 miles to the nearest hospital and he ended up getting 57 stitches in his leg. Next day he was back in the mountains working his rear off. I still do not understand how he did it but he was from the WWII generation and they made men from hardened steel back then. On Fridays we would just camp out in the mountains and we would get a fire started and throw an old pine knot into it, that was a sure way to make a bonfire that would burn the paint on the space shuttle in space. Enough story, its time for my tree.

Loblolly Pine 27 May 2018.jpg
Here is my Loblolly not long after it sprouted from the seed. This was taken on 27 May 2018

Loblolly Pine 10 July 2018 f.jpg
This picture was taken on 10 July 2018. It has grown pretty good and there is still a few months left in the growing season. The rock is a Rose Rock, they are formed naturally around here, I do not know how they are made like that but they are cool.

As you can see, it will be many years before this guy would be even considered a bonsai.
 

GGB

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Here's a pic of one of mine. Future literati. The leader is growing out as a sacrifice. The branch on the right (being wired downward) is the actual leader. The trunk will have drastic sharp bends the whole way up.. 3 feet(ish) if everything goes as planned. So far my guys have given 1 great flush and 1 pathetic, worth-nothin flush. Hopefully getting one more flush with some gusto.
 

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K5ATG

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I would recommend next year starting about 100 more.
I have about 30 more growing, those are for a possible forest planing and what else my sick mind can come up with.
 

Potawatomi13

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Sorry to hear about GG Grandfathers murder. Was this by Amerinds for being bad agent or white men for being good agent?:confused: What does avatar represent please?
 

K5ATG

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He was killed by some bootleggers. He was kind of a American Agent, much like the FBI, but he was assigned to the Choctaw Indian Nation. The Choctaw had their federal capitol in near by Tuskahoma, Oklahoma. The people that shot him had been under investigation by my Great Grandfather because they operated several stills on Indian lands. This was during prohibition in the 1920's. Even J. Edgar Hoover got involved in the murder investigation, but the guys that did it were acquitted.
My avatar is the Oklahoma state flag. The Oklahoma state flag honors more than 60 groups of Native Americans and their ancestors. The blue field comes from a flag carried by Choctaw soldiers during the civil war. The center shield is the battle shield of an Osage warrior. It is made of buffalo hide and decorated with eagle feathers. Two symbols of peace lie across the shield. One is the calumet, or peace pipe. The other is an olive branch. Crosses on the shield are Native American signs for stars, representing high ideals.
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Here we are like Texas where we fly the Oklahoma flag almost as much as the USA Flag. I used the OK flag as an avatar because I am very proud of my state, and I do not yet have a nice enough tree to use for an avatar. The K5ATG is my FCC Amateur Radio License. The K represents the United States, the 5 is for most of the south eastern United States. The ATG is what I picked it is from an inside joke. Back in the late 90's, me and my wife we walking around at a mall and this guy kept wanting us to do a survey. I did not want to because I did not want them to sell my information. The guy GUARANTEED that they would never do such a thing. So I filled out the survey and for a name I used Aaron as my first name (it isn't) and for my last name I used The-Great. That was the only time I did that. When my wife saw that she thought I was being an ass. About two weeks later we started getting hammered with junk mail addressed to Aaron The-Great, I laughed my ass off on that one. So when I got my ham radio license I did not like the call sign that the FCC gave me, so I chose to get a new one and my wife and kids over ruled me getting my initials and told me to get ATG for Aaron the great.
 

Johnathan

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Very very cool. Oklahoma has been extremely kind to me since I came here as a refugee ( ?) of Hurricane Katrina.

Such a cool story. When I drive down to Arlington to see my mother and pass through the lands, I often wonder some of the stories and people that have come before me. I suppose its something that comes with age lol I definitely didn't do it in my 20s lol

Anyways, I recently came across a loblolly that was grown in the ground in a bag... I got a good deal on it $10!!!

By the time I got home, it was wobbly in the bag and the sand was pretty lose after I cleared all the dead leaves and stuff out of the bag. Anyway, I can't do anything with a straight phone pole loblolly, so I opted to give it hell!!

Backfilled it with NAPA DE, Wrapped it with some vet wrap and went to wire town. I know its probably not the right time..... but I'm not a Bonsai master so I'm not bound by those rules lol I also wanted to get some movement into it before it became completely stiff!

After wrapping and wiring

20180715_180408.jpg

After bending

20180715_181649.jpg

If you look close you can see I went a little to crazy and split my vetwrap (and a little of the tree) so I put plumber's putty on it ??‍♂ It's all I had lol

The day got this tree and did this slight work it was rainy a couple Saturdays ago, but, like @sorce I'm a believer of let nature heal it, so no rest for the weary. It went right back to full sun after this picture was taken lol

At this point I'm just hoping to keep it alive until I can bareroot it along with my pitchpine from @jeanluc83 early spring next year.

@K5ATG you seem to be familiar with the land in Oklahoma. I'm serious about a collecting trip!!!
 

GGB

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Alright, another loblolly memeber! Hope that crack heals, looks pretty brutal. @Johnathan if I can take a stab at changing your mind on the "bare root" plan.... There are a few members on here that have unsuccesfully tried to collect loblolly, almost always bare root. It seems like they grow in locations where the "Soil" is just sand so it falls away from the roots, naturally bare rooting them. Maybe barerooting isn't what caused their demise so much as run away roots in a dry soil. But from everything I gather about this species they can be pretty fickle about root work, on top of the fact that they're pines. So we can already assume they need babying.
Either way, nice tree. Go get more and make me jealous. I only have access to older material up here, to straight and thick to bother with so I'm stuck growing these guys out from seeds/saplings. Thank god they put on a couple feet a season. Jealous of all those pines growing just a few miles south of me.
 

Johnathan

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EW! So they took you from heaven and delivered you to hell huh? ;)
Spoken like a Texan lol

Alright, another loblolly memeber! Hope that crack heals, looks pretty brutal. @Johnathan if I can take a stab at changing your mind on the "bare root" plan.... There are a few members on here that have unsuccesfully tried to collect loblolly, almost always bare root. It seems like they grow in locations where the "Soil" is just sand so it falls away from the roots, naturally bare rooting them. Maybe barerooting isn't what caused their demise so much as run away roots in a dry soil. But from everything I gather about this species they can be pretty fickle about root work, on top of the fact that they're pines. So we can already assume they need babying.
Either way, nice tree. Go get more and make me jealous. I only have access to older material up here, to straight and thick to bother with so I'm stuck growing these guys out from seeds/saplings. Thank god they put on a couple feet a season. Jealous of all those pines growing just a few miles south of me.
I'm all for suggestions on how to get it out of the sandy mix. If you look at my picture you'll see there are tons of roots that already escaped the bag.

I turned it upside down to shake the leaves out and of course sand came out with it also ?

Now I have no idea how to remove the sand if I'm not going to bareroot it
 

GGB

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@Johnathan look up "half bare rooting" it's basically an extra step for us USA bonsai hobbyists. In Japan real bonsai is grown from day one in bonsai soil. Here we get creative and use nursery material. So we slowly remove slices of potting soil and back fill with the good stuff. It's a conifer thing. Check it out, this ain't no elm/maple/seedling situation
 

substratum

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Both of my father’s grandfathers (maternal & paternal) were murdered within 18 months of each other around 1915-16, one in SE OK, and the other in SW AR. Really tough part of the country back in the day. That common experience (losing a father to murder), is part of what drew his parents together. It was a dysfunctional attraction, mind you, but it led to me and mine.
 

K5ATG

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EW! So they took you from heaven and delivered you to hell huh? ;)
Watch it now, BOOMER SOONER lol

@Johnathan Yeah we are going to have to get together for a collecting trip. There is a bonsai club that meets at Will Rogers Botanical Garden but I have not been able to attend a meeting. Are you involved in that club? Actually the wife says no because I am kept busy with 3 amateur radio clubs, astronomy club and irritating the kids. I have been trying to get Tony's Tree Plantation on Post and I 40 to start carrying bonsai material. Other than TLC I can't find much for bonsai other than when Wal Mart has their Bonsai Species trees that are half dead and rocks glued to the soil.
 

Johnathan

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@GGB I fear when trying to remove it from the bag it's in, all of the sand will just come off :confused:

@TooCoys I bet Vermillion Parish has some hidden trees ready to be collected lol

@K5ATG yes I have been to a couple of meetings there. Very awesome group of people. I got a dawn redwood seedling from there at my first meeting! I've been to Tony's as well. Only once or twice. I went through the nursery phase, the best deals were on clearance section items. Also some good deals online auctions like the 99 cents auctions lol and now I'm ready to tackle the collecting phase. That seems to be the best bet in these parts.

I bet most of the best sites would be up near the Missouri/ Arkansas lines.

Anyway, the bad.... I think that top bend was fatal for the upper 1/2 of this tree, the good, seems to be plenty of branches budding from that bend area, wont be a problem at all recreating this movement, except now, it'll be more tapered!! :cool: everything below the break seems to be settling in and taking off!
 

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@Johnathan at the risk of sounding like a know it all (cuz I certainly aint), I'd try treating it more like a JRP. Using clip and grow to create most movement and just getting subtle bends with wire. That's what I've been doing with mine ever since .... Gary Wood? .. I think ... told me about how brittle this species was. Didn't want to go "parroting" on ya but it looks to me like solid info. Hopefully the new branches will grow in quickly to help it stabilize.
 

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@Johnathan at the risk of sounding like a know it all (cuz I certainly aint), I'd try treating it more like a JRP. Using clip and grow to create most movement and just getting subtle bends with wire. That's what I've been doing with mine ever since .... Gary Wood? .. I think ... told me about how brittle this species was. Didn't want to go "parroting" on ya but it looks to me like solid info. Hopefully the new branches will grow in quickly to help it stabilize.
Its okay to be a know it all, cause I dont know it all. I don't even know who Gary Wood is lol

Would you recommend clipping off this dying section to allow more energy towards what is still alive and well?
 
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GGB

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I wish I was authorized to give you advice on that, I'm flying blind myself. I can say, that if it were my tree I'd let the top completely brown out and die, then remove it. But, that could be wrong
 

JRDillWFM

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Love this thread! I live on the north side of Houston and work in the Woodlands, so I am surrounded by Loblolly. I have been thinking of digging up a couple next winter on the side of my neighborhood. They've been growing rapidly over the past year.

This reminds me of something really interesting Ryan Neil said in the Asymmetry podcast. He was talking about the vast amount of species here in North America that we don't use as bonsai because of our extreme focus on what bonsai is in Japan. After hearing that and hearing how Loblolly can not be a suitable bonsai, I was encouraged to try it out. Thanks for this, I'm really intrigued now!
 
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Johnathan

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I wish I was authorized to give you advice on that, I'm flying blind myself. I can say, that if it were my tree I'd let the top completely brown out and die, then remove it. But, that could be wrong
Yeah that's kinda what I was thinking too.

Love this thread! I live on the north side of Houston and work in the Woodlands, so I am surrounded by Loblolly. I have been thinking of digging up a couple next winter on the side of my neighborhood. They've been growing rapidly over the past year.

This reminds me of something really interesting Ryan Neil said in the Asymmetry podcast. He was talking about the vast amount of species here in North America that we don't use as bonsai because of our extreme focus on what bonsai is in Japan. After hearing that and hearing how Loblolly can not be a suitable bonsai, I was encouraged to try it out. Thanks for this, I'm really intrigued now!
I'm in Houston now! Until Sunday. I saw a Houston Garden Center near my hotel. All trees were 1/2 off. Can't wait to get down there in the morning while my wife sleeps in lol
 

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