mugo pine only gave one bud per terminal

sfhellwig

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It was a one gallon nursery plant. I bought it just in time to remove 1/2 to 2/3 of each candle and it paid me back with nice, compact needles and a healthy bushy plant. In July I repotted it to a wider growing flat with little root disturbance. The plant appears to be pretty happy in general, I see good things in it's future.

However, upon inspecting all of the terminals there only appears to be one small bud at each one. I was looking forward to practicing bud selection and guiding the tree's form. Not that I would do a lot of selection as it is young and growing, not approaching refinement. My concern is if this is a sign of poor conditions. Without multiple buds there can be no whorl of branches, correct? Do I reduce the candles less and let it resume vigorous growth? Was it just a little shocked at it's new treatment? Is this normal for a year or two? I intended to use candle pruning to guide the shape a small amount but don't see doing much but extending the existing branches this season. Without multiple buds there will be no new "branches" this year? Ideas or tips?
 

Vance Wood

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Mugos do this sometimes. It is too late in the year to do anything about it now. You should fertilize it heavy in the spring to stimulate as much growth as possible them cut it back into last years growth sometime in July. From this point you should see a multitude of new needles form along the branch if you followed the fertilizing program properly. Remember: Mugos are not Japanese Black Pines and do not always perform in the same manner.
 

sfhellwig

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So in spring I would do a type of "superfeeding" in preparation for cutting back and rebudding. I would let it proceed as normal until July. At which point I cut back just into last years wood. Then it will hopefully produce multiple smaller buds which will give a second flush for the year.

I assume I would not cut every branch, only the ones I would like to split? Or does it need to be cut back across the entire plant? In defoliating a D tree you are supposed to do the entire tree so that it doesn't selectively die back. Any similarities or only cut where I want to stimulate budding?

Mugos are not Japanese Black Pines, meaning mugos may not respond strongly to this treatment? Do mugos typically require cutting to get multiple budding? Sorry, pines are my weakest area. That's why I'm trying to study up now instead of when it's too late.:eek:
 

Vance Wood

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So in spring I would do a type of "superfeeding" in preparation for cutting back and rebudding. I would let it proceed as normal until July. At which point I cut back just into last years wood. Then it will hopefully produce multiple smaller buds which will give a second flush for the year.

It will produce multiple new buds but probably will not produce a second flush of growth. This is not what Mugos do normally. The new growth comes in the spring. This is the major difference between Mugos and Black Pine. It also depends on where you live.


I assume I would not cut every branch, only the ones I would like to split? Or does it need to be cut back across the entire plant? In defoliating a D tree you are supposed to do the entire tree so that it doesn't selectively die back. Any similarities or only cut where I want to stimulate budding?

You should do this across the entire tree just to keep new buds forming in closer to the trunk.


Mugos are not Japanese Black Pines, meaning mugos may not respond strongly to this treatment? Do mugos typically require cutting to get multiple budding? Sorry, pines are my weakest area. That's why I'm trying to study up now instead of when it's too late.:eek:

The kind of cutting we are describing often called shoot removal is necessary to reduce needle size and increase bud production at random locations instead of at the tips, the typical development in most Pines.
 

sfhellwig

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Thank you very much for the clarification Vance. I know much of your specific knowledge has come from years of experience with the mugos. Do you have any books to suggest that might cover the basics of this pine. I have another thread asking for a book about pines in general but they seem to be pretty specific. Didn't know if there were any book publications covering this one or if it was mostly articles and personal suggestions. Thanks again.
 

Vance Wood

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Thank you very much for the clarification Vance. I know much of your specific knowledge has come from years of experience with the mugos. Do you have any books to suggest that might cover the basics of this pine. I have another thread asking for a book about pines in general but they seem to be pretty specific. Didn't know if there were any book publications covering this one or if it was mostly articles and personal suggestions. Thanks again.

I am working on a book but there is little to nothing out there about Mugos that has not been ripped off from my many posts on the Internet. I am about the only one in this country taking this tree seriously, Europe is another story. If you do find some information about the Mugo let me know. There are a lot of people out there that think because they can grow Black Pine that all of those techniques translate to Mugos as well----they do not.
 

Smoke

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I am working on a book but there is little to nothing out there about Mugos that has not been ripped off from my many posts on the Internet. I am about the only one in this country taking this tree seriously, Europe is another story. If you do find some information about the Mugo let me know. There are a lot of people out there that think because they can grow Black Pine that all of those techniques translate to Mugos as well----they do not.

I am curious, do you think that sentiment would change if the tree were collectable as it is in Europe?

I don't know of anyone on the left coast with a name working with this species. I wonder why this is? With it's short needles and fast growing habits it seems it would garner more respect.
 

Vance Wood

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I am curious, do you think that sentiment would change if the tree were collectable as it is in Europe?

I don't know of anyone on the left coast with a name working with this species. I wonder why this is? With it's short needles and fast growing habits it seems it would garner more respect.

I don't know either except the only source for Mugos anywhere in America is from the nursery trade and I think I have pretty well explained in the past the problems with Nursery Mugo cultivation. There are not too many willing to put up with the hoops you have to jump through. Europe on the other hand can collect them from the wild, they do not have to go into the nursery trade.
 

Ang3lfir3

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I am curious, do you think that sentiment would change if the tree were collectable as it is in Europe?

I don't know of anyone on the left coast with a name working with this species. I wonder why this is? With it's short needles and fast growing habits it seems it would garner more respect.

there are lots of people on the left coast that do have them and work on them. Not to any great quantity however. But that is most likely due to the what Vance said.
 

grouper52

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there are lots of people on the left coast that do have them and work on them. Not to any great quantity however. But that is most likely due to the what Vance said.

Dan Robinson has several world class Mughos that he has had in training 3-5+ decades, and at least one fairly ancient pre-bonsai monster collected from a landscaping site that awaits his tutelage.
 

Vance Wood

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Dan Robinson has several world class Mughos that he has had in training 3-5+ decades, and at least one fairly ancient pre-bonsai monster collected from a landscaping site that awaits his tutelage.

This is true, an old landscape is another source of Yamadori-ish Mugos if you can talk the property owner's into parting with them.
 

Vance Wood

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There is another reason you may not see a lot of them. The standard literature on most two needle pines which is based on JBP's cultivation suggests that the best time to re-pot or dig up a Mugo (because it is a two needle Pine) is in the spring. The same books suggest that Mugos are difficult to re-pot and are fussy about having their roots messed with. This is true if you do it in the spring. However; I have found, after years of working with this tree, that you can do almost anything you want with them, including drastic root removal, if you do it anytime after the second or third week in June through the end of August; on the West Coast you could push this to the end of September.

A lot of experienced growers will tell you that this is rubbish and will reject this approach out of hand. However; a lot of people are starting to come around to my method having tried it for themselves and liked the results.
 

sfhellwig

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Vance, I have read your suggestions of summer root working. Last July I did not really prune as I want this one to put on size. But I spread the roots, putting it in to a shallow box and it sure didn't seem to care. Not that I know what an upset pine really looks like but no loss of greenery at all.

I actually got to meet other bonsai people recently (rare in these parts) and the experienced person of the group had a beautiful mugo. She liked the exposed root style and said she had been growing this one for 30 years. I asked if she repotted it in the summer and she very plainly replied "No, in spring like usual." I guess she had not found it to be particularly fussy. I sure wasn't going to tell her she was doing anything wrong, but I will stick to the summer re-potting until I find otherwise for myself.
 

Vance Wood

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Vance, I have read your suggestions of summer root working. Last July I did not really prune as I want this one to put on size. But I spread the roots, putting it in to a shallow box and it sure didn't seem to care. Not that I know what an upset pine really looks like but no loss of greenery at all.

I actually got to meet other bonsai people recently (rare in these parts) and the experienced person of the group had a beautiful mugo. She liked the exposed root style and said she had been growing this one for 30 years. I asked if she repotted it in the summer and she very plainly replied "No, in spring like usual." I guess she had not found it to be particularly fussy. I sure wasn't going to tell her she was doing anything wrong, but I will stick to the summer re-potting until I find otherwise for myself.

You don't need to tell anyone they are doing something wrong, the tree will tell them. However I have run into people who have had opposite experiences and have successfully switched to summer repotting; go figure.

As to the one bud development on Mugos. This sometimes happens but it can only easily be dealt with in late summer (August and no latter) during the time when the tree is normally developing buds for next season. In the case where you get one bud, if the bud is large and healthy take a pair of tweezers to the base of the bud and carefully twist and pull it outward. The idea is to break it off not tear it out. In a couple of weeks you will see new buds forming below that point. In the spring they will open with substantially smaller needles. Caution: If the tree has not be properly fertilized the previous season you may not get bud development till the middle of next spring.
 

sfhellwig

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So instead of cutting back into last years growth as previously mentioned, you let the new bud develop and then remove it. This sounds more appropriate. When you say "The idea is to break it off not tear it out." Is the difference in the wound left? How would I know if I had done this properly or improperly?
 

Vance Wood

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So instead of cutting back into last years growth as previously mentioned, you let the new bud develop and then remove it. This sounds more appropriate. When you say "The idea is to break it off not tear it out." Is the difference in the wound left? How would I know if I had done this properly or improperly?

Read the whole thing again carefully, I don't have time to restate the process right now. The bud need to be snapped off if possible. You grasp the bud at the base with the tweezer, turn your wrist one quarter turn to which ever direction is comfortable then snap the wrist upward as in popping off the lid on a bottle of pills. If it tears it tears, but most of the time it will pop off. This is only done if you have not cut the new shoots as described in an earlier post. The idea is to make buds not shoots at this point. The buds are for next spring.
 

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The size of my control group is not very large--but last year I did an experiment after reading Vance's many posts about summer repotting. I repotted 2 similar sized mugos from the same nursery stock.. One I did in spring--it slowly died in about 1 month. The other I did in early July and it didn't skip a beat. Just my experience.
 

Vance Wood

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The size of my control group is not very large--but last year I did an experiment after reading Vance's many posts about summer repotting. I repotted 2 similar sized mugos from the same nursery stock.. One I did in spring--it slowly died in about 1 month. The other I did in early July and it didn't skip a beat. Just my experience.

Thanks Paul, first hand experience means a lot.
 

sfhellwig

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Vance, I think that last description may have cleared things up. Between that and the previous posts I can outline two different procedures for two different reasons/results. Plus personal experience, this has turned out to be quite a productive thread.
 

Vance Wood

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Vance, I think that last description may have cleared things up. Between that and the previous posts I can outline two different procedures for two different reasons/results. Plus personal experience, this has turned out to be quite a productive thread.

I'm glad. Sometimes material read is really not understood as intended and often when I hear feed back the entire thing was done wrong. Just remember with Pines: timing is every thing, and intent of actions is second. In other words you have to do the right thing at the right time for the right reason. Too often people will do the right thing for the wrong reason at the wrong time and then wonder why things failed.
 
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