looking for JWP info, developing a young plant

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I can't seem to find any info on white pine, maybe I'm searching wrong. I found a thread where @Leo in N E Illinois stated these are well documented, but no links, and I tried searching for jwp posts from @Adair M but I'm not finding anything. I've also been hanging around on this forum slightly longer than when I bought my first tree and don't recall coming across much. Most of the care info I have found I'm assuming is for developed trees that are being refined.
I have a 3 or 4 year old tree, I'm guessing. It came in a 4" nursery pot from Cascade Bonsai. I've had it about a year, so far all I have done is wire it into an ugly shape, fertilize and water. I'm looking for info on how to develop these. Mine looks like a little ball of fluff with lots of branches and new little branches forming along the trunk. It seems like now is a good time to put wire on it again and get it into a better shape. I'm unsure if I should remove any needles along the trunk to aid in wiring. Also I probably need to go grab another one since this one has wire scars. I'm guessing those might not go away.
 

63pmp

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The only reliable information I have was from Bonsai Today articles. Stone lantern (Bonsai Bark) has a "Masters series" collection of these articles put into a pine book. Is very good but articles sometimes contradict each other.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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The Stone Lantern series mentioned by @63pmp is good, but dated. They were written in Japan, with timing of activities appropriate for Japan, which is about zone 7 in the USA. Worth reading.

@Adair M is better versed in white pines than I am

With Japanese pine, I would not routinely remove needles. Needles of JWP live about 18 months, give or take. There is a natural aging and needle fall in late summer. You can comb through the tree and remove loose old needles that are about to fall out naturally.

You should only thin needles if there are areas of dense needles that are shading out other areas.

That said. Downward pointing needles are often removed from branches, this allow more light to penetrate to allow back-budding. And back buds mostly form from the centers of needle bundles. We generally do not want downward pointed branches, so removing downward pointing needles reduces numbers of downward pointing back buds.

Others can elaborate more fully.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Here is a thread on a JWP I have been growing for the last 15 years from a 2-year old graft. Still haven’t begun to style it. Soon though.
 

63pmp

Shohin
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The Stone Lantern series mentioned by @63pmp is good, but dated. They were written in Japan, with timing of activities appropriate for Japan, which is about zone 7 in the USA. Worth reading.

@Adair M is better versed in white pines than I am

With Japanese pine, I would not routinely remove needles. Needles of JWP live about 18 months, give or take. There is a natural aging and needle fall in late summer. You can comb through the tree and remove loose old needles that are about to fall out naturally.

You should only thin needles if there are areas of dense needles that are shading out other areas.

That said. Downward pointing needles are often removed from branches, this allow more light to penetrate to allow back-budding. And back buds mostly form from the centers of needle bundles. We generally do not want downward pointed branches, so removing downward pointing needles reduces numbers of downward pointing back buds.

Others can elaborate more fully.
Hmmmm, showing my age. I have forgotten how long ago it was when I bought that book.
 

Adair M

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I can't seem to find any info on white pine, maybe I'm searching wrong. I found a thread where @Leo in N E Illinois stated these are well documented, but no links, and I tried searching for jwp posts from @Adair M but I'm not finding anything. I've also been hanging around on this forum slightly longer than when I bought my first tree and don't recall coming across much. Most of the care info I have found I'm assuming is for developed trees that are being refined.
I have a 3 or 4 year old tree, I'm guessing. It came in a 4" nursery pot from Cascade Bonsai. I've had it about a year, so far all I have done is wire it into an ugly shape, fertilize and water. I'm looking for info on how to develop these. Mine looks like a little ball of fluff with lots of branches and new little branches forming along the trunk. It seems like now is a good time to put wire on it again and get it into a better shape. I'm unsure if I should remove any needles along the trunk to aid in wiring. Also I probably need to go grab another one since this one has wire scars. I'm guessing those might not go away.
JWP grow slowly. Most are grafted because the foliage is better than seedling JWP. In fact, most of what we see as bonsai labeled “Japanese White Pine” could actually be better described as “Dwarf Japanese White Pine”.

The BEST way to develop them is unlikely to be done by anyone who would read this! LOL!!! And that way is to grow them in the ground for 30 years or so! And let them “grow out then cut back”. Repeatedly. And they dig them up every 5 years or so, prune the roots to develop good nebari, then put them back in the ground. I watched a video on YouTube where a guy in Japan was digging up and root pruning a field of JWP that was planted by his grandfather. Incredible trees! They were ground growing for 70 years.

This tree:

AA3636AA-E635-4F2C-9130-03C392FA19CB.jpeg

Was entirely pot grown. It was allowed to grow out and get cut back for 17 years before it was ever styled. And it was probably about 20 years old when that process started! So, no styling (at least not with wire) until it was nearly 40 years old. This is what it looked like when it was first styled:

Before:

60FFD443-BF75-4DD0-92CD-F2AA7D31CAF8.jpeg

As you can see from the picture above, there are leggy shoots protruding out of the canopy. These were shortened considerably during the stying. Prior to this styling, the tree has been allowed to get leggy like this, and then cut back to make a rough silohette of the desired tree shape. But, no wire. It would get cut back about every two or three years. This process builds interior twigs and branches. It also allows you to cut back harder up near the apex to keep those branches thin, and have heavier branches down low. The importance of this cannot be overstated. Good pine bonsai (except literati) should have heavier lower branches and thinner upper branches. Another aspect of good pine bonsai is not NOT have very heavy branches, anywhere! Even lower branches. Pines are programmed to grow tall, not wide. In a forest, they will drop the low branches. They “expect” to lose those low branches, so they generally dont make them very strong in nature. If a pine grows out in a field with no competition, it will keep the low branches, but they will hang down since the wood is flexible. It’s best if they hang directly at the crotch where the branch attaches to the trunk.

Here’s the “After” picture of the initial styling:

96116F71-4CC7-4605-9F1D-F0905AADD18B.jpeg

So, here you can see the branches have been brought down. It still looks leggy, the pads are thin, the branches up top are still too long, etc. But the canopy has been opened up, sunlight can get in to the inside and help those interior buds thrive. From this point, it was 7 years to this:

433924BE-8A5A-411F-8F02-F7269F4D8A8C.jpeg
 
Messages
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Location
Portland, Oregon, United States of America
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JWP grow slowly. Most are grafted because the foliage is better than seedling JWP. In fact, most of what we see as bonsai labeled “Japanese White Pine” could actually be better described as “Dwarf Japanese White Pine”.

The BEST way to develop them is unlikely to be done by anyone who would read this! LOL!!! And that way is to grow them in the ground for 30 years or so! And let them “grow out then cut back”. Repeatedly. And they dig them up every 5 years or so, prune the roots to develop good nebari, then put them back in the ground. I watched a video on YouTube where a guy in Japan was digging up and root pruning a field of JWP that was planted by his grandfather. Incredible trees! They were ground growing for 70 years.

This tree:

View attachment 403846

Was entirely pot grown. It was allowed to grow out and get cut back for 17 years before it was ever styled. And it was probably about 20 years old when that process started! So, no styling (at least not with wire) until it was nearly 40 years old. This is what it looked like when it was first styled:

Before:

View attachment 403847

As you can see from the picture above, there are leggy shoots protruding out of the canopy. These were shortened considerably during the stying. Prior to this styling, the tree has been allowed to get leggy like this, and then cut back to make a rough silohette of the desired tree shape. But, no wire. It would get cut back about every two or three years. This process builds interior twigs and branches. It also allows you to cut back harder up near the apex to keep those branches thin, and have heavier branches down low. The importance of this cannot be overstated. Good pine bonsai (except literati) should have heavier lower branches and thinner upper branches. Another aspect of good pine bonsai is not NOT have very heavy branches, anywhere! Even lower branches. Pines are programmed to grow tall, not wide. In a forest, they will drop the low branches. They “expect” to lose those low branches, so they generally dont make them very strong in nature. If a pine grows out in a field with no competition, it will keep the low branches, but they will hang down since the wood is flexible. It’s best if they hang directly at the crotch where the branch attaches to the trunk.

Here’s the “After” picture of the initial styling:

View attachment 403848

So, here you can see the branches have been brought down. It still looks leggy, the pads are thin, the branches up top are still too long, etc. But the canopy has been opened up, sunlight can get in to the inside and help those interior buds thrive. From this point, it was 7 years to this:

View attachment 403850
sounds simple enough, put it in the ground or a pot and let it grow, lol. So traditionally these are mostly grown with straight trunks? I would think being a mountain pine they would take on more twisted shapes from being smushed by snow.
 
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Here is a thread on a JWP I have been growing for the last 15 years from a 2-year old graft. Still haven’t begun to style it. Soon though.
Thanks for the link, I made it to page 5 so far. Is Zuisho a special cultivar or are most jwp that I would find sold as bonsai stock be cultivars of zuisho?
I found this link somewhere https://www.bonsainut.com/attachments/zuisho-articles-in-bonsai-today-jpg.13763/
My club has all the issues from the link but they pertain to Zuisho. I grabbed issue 8 of bonsai today. From what I read so far Zuisho is a special cultivar. There seems to be a lot of threads on here if I search Zuisho instead of jwp, but from what I read from the article Zuisho is described to have special qualities so i'm not sure if the techniques described would apply to my little tree as it was just labeled 'Japanese White Pine'.
From what I can tell it doesn't appear to be grafted as the trunk is pretty smooth all the way down to the roots which were visible at the soil surface when purchased. Anyway, my Japanese Weird Pine appears to be healthy with lots of needles and back-budding. I'll post some photos in 5-10 years when it outgrows it's awkward phase. 🙃
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Thanks for the link, I made it to page 5 so far. Is Zuisho a special cultivar or are most jwp that I would find sold as bonsai stock be cultivars of zuisho?
I found this link somewhere https://www.bonsainut.com/attachments/zuisho-articles-in-bonsai-today-jpg.13763/
My club has all the issues from the link but they pertain to Zuisho. I grabbed issue 8 of bonsai today. From what I read so far Zuisho is a special cultivar. There seems to be a lot of threads on here if I search Zuisho instead of jwp, but from what I read from the article Zuisho is described to have special qualities so i'm not sure if the techniques described would apply to my little tree as it was just labeled 'Japanese White Pine'.
From what I can tell it doesn't appear to be grafted as the trunk is pretty smooth all the way down to the roots which were visible at the soil surface when purchased. Anyway, my Japanese Weird Pine appears to be healthy with lots of needles and back-budding. I'll post some photos in 5-10 years when it outgrows it's awkward phase. 🙃
Zuisho is a dwarf cultivar with some unique characteristics, but largely grows like a JWP. It will trunk up in a pot, tends to grow heavy low branches, back buds well, and has naturally short needles. Adair’s JWP in the photos above is either a Zuisho or Kokonoe, 2 similar cultivars.
 

Adair M

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Zuisho is a dwarf cultivar with some unique characteristics, but largely grows like a JWP. It will trunk up in a pot, tends to grow heavy low branches, back buds well, and has naturally short needles. Adair’s JWP in the photos above is either a Zuisho or Kokonoe, 2 similar cultivars.
My JWP in the photos above is a Kokonoe.

While you can have a JWP with a straight trunk, there’s no reason you can’t put in curves while it is growing out. In Japan, they commonly wire the trunks and let the wire just embed itself into the trunk. While that “works” and does make the trunk look old sooner, you should remove the wire before it cuts in, so it is possible to get movement without having the permanent spiral tell-tale scars. They make those trees in Japan by the thousands. But, recently, they have fallen out of favor because of the artificial scarring.
 

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