Mugo Pine

Rick Moquin

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A visit to the local nursery revealed some exciting material. I was in search of another Hinoki which I am partial to. They didn't have any in their early spring selection but I did pick up a couple of Mugos. This particular one was regular $46 and I got it at 1/2 price because it had a greyish tint to it compared to the other Mugo I bought. The mgr of the nursery could not garantee it's survival, therefore the reduction. However, when we discussed why I wanted it regardless and intended to do with it, he understood that it was indeed a worthy chance to take. This is just your run of the mill nursery and bonsai is not well known in NS. I probably went through 30 trees (all their stock (this size)) and the majority had different colour foliage. Because of the movement and potential of this tree, I had to take my chances. He expalined that the trees in fibre pots don't seem to be as healthy as the ones that grow in plastic pots. He believes upon proding is because the fiber pots retain to much moisture. Well we have a cure for that don't we?

The nebari will need work if the tree lives and will take several years. This tree was field grown and has a nasty long trunk under the soil, that will require to be removed over the course of several years. The bonus, roots have and are developing higher up and eventually will become the root mass with careful pruning and training.

There is some reverse taper happening where the majority of the branches developed on the left hand side. I believe this can be reduced disguised with carving and bringing the upper branch a little lower. The branch that remains on the right will be removed later on in favour of a jin, once that side has developed. It has some nice movement and character initial styling and wiring was carried out.

Suggestions and comments are always welcome.
 

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JasonG

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Hi Rick,

Nice finds on the mugos! I think they have good potential and are already off to a great start. The trunk seems to have good movement and you did a good job on selecting the branches that are to stay.
I have been on a mugo kick these past few months and I will tell you that finding one with a single trunk vs. clumps is kinda tough. I was able to find about 35 of them that I bought at unbelievably low prices.
Vance Wood is about the best resource for mugo in America that I have found. Not too many people play with mugo for bonsai which I find as very odd.

Good luck with your trees, they are very nice!

Jason
 

Rick Moquin

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Thanks Jason! Finding a Mugo with a single trunk is indeed difficult. Out of 30 some odd trees I only found 4 suitable for bonsai. This one at $23 Cad is a steal if it survives, 2" trunk.
 
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That looks like a mighty big swell half way up the trunk, where you pruned a few branches off, or is it a optical illusion?

I went mugo hunting last year with Vance Wood and learned a great deal about finding the gems in nurseries. He certainly knows mugos.

This has a good shape and decent branching, good find.


Will
 

Rick Moquin

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Good eye Will, that is indeed inverse taper happening there. That area is where the majority of the branches came on the left. I overlooked this small flaw in favour of branch placement, trunk movement and overall character. That area will be carved out in the future and a shari will ensue. There are several areas that we can't see at the moment that will be jined next year, only stubs remain of the previous branches.

Depending on the viewing angle the reverse taper diminishes. Because this tree has no nebari to speak of, I hope roots will grow in areas where a different planting angle will be more suitable. But hey, for $23 Cad one can't complain too much:)
 

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I've given up on nursery mugo hunting a long time ago - small plants have no trunk at all, medium plants have a big clump of branches near the base, and really large landscape size plants have big trunks but no branches near the base.

I like this one tho - I do think however that spending a few years in the ground would help with taper, nebari and overall health. For $23, it would be worth letting it grow free in the ground for a while and get a $100 out of it. In my experience mugos don't grow much in bonsai pots

Just my two cents

Manny
 

Rick Moquin

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Advice taken but this puppy is not in a bonsai pot but a 3gal nursery pot. This tree needs a well oxyginated soil for root development vice the ground IMO. In subsequent repotting and getting rid of the trunk below the soil line, it will probably finish off its training in a patented Vance Wood cedar basket. This tree is far from being where it needs to go. I will keep you folks posted as to its development.
 

Vance Wood

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I've given up on nursery mugo hunting a long time ago - small plants have no trunk at all, medium plants have a big clump of branches near the base, and really large landscape size plants have big trunks but no branches near the base.

I like this one tho - I do think however that spending a few years in the ground would help with taper, nebari and overall health. For $23, it would be worth letting it grow free in the ground for a while and get a $100 out of it. In my experience mugos don't grow much in bonsai pots

Just my two cents

Manny
I have more than a few that have been in nursery pots for thirty years, you are doing it wrong. Mugos are not JBPs and most of the problems people have with them is spring planting.

As to finding a decent trunk. You usually do not find one single trunk but a clump as you describe, but it is possible to develop a single trunk, and a tapered one at that, by chasing a trunk line up successive layers of branches. What you need to look for is the biggest fattest trunk bases you can get your fingers around. I have fourteen of the boogers sitting on my drive way right now that were picked up at a nursery two weeks ago. They are for a workshop on the 12th.
 

Vance Wood

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Advice taken but this puppy is not in a bonsai pot but a 3gal nursery pot. This tree needs a well oxyginated soil for root development vice the ground IMO. In subsequent repotting and getting rid of the trunk below the soil line, it will probably finish off its training in a patented Vance Wood cedar basket. This tree is far from being where it needs to go. I will keep you folks posted as to its development.
If you want to develop new roots around the base I agree with the planter method. Also take a dental pick or a very small drill bit, or a very sharp awl and poke holes into the trunk where you would like the roots to form. Push the tool into the trunk until you feel the change in resistance then move to another location. You can put as many holes as you like. Dust them with rooting hormone and pack long fibered sphagnum moss around that area of the trunk and mound that up with a bit of soil to keep the sphagnum in place. Give the tree a couple of years and you should get some roots developing where you want them. Don't do any of this till late June and then you can fool around with the roots till September.

As to the grey looking Mugo: Take a clean piece of white paper, put it under the foliage and with the flat of your hand sort of bang on the foliage like you were gently slapping something. Check the paper. If there are little specks on it look at them carefully. If they move you have red spider mites, the probable reason for the grey color.
 
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I've given up on nursery mugo hunting a long time ago - small plants have no trunk at all, medium plants have a big clump of branches near the base, and really large landscape size plants have big trunks but no branches near the base.
Glad to hear you have up on nursery mugo hunting, leaves more for me. Below is one of the small plants you spoke of with no trunk at all. I believe it cost me $12.95.

You have to know what to look for, I learned from the best, for more info on this tree and others acquired at nurseries, see this article.

I helped Vance Wood pick out a few dozen mugos that were used for the Joshua Roth New Talent Competition last year, some folks hated the material, other absolutely loved it, either way it was fine stock and offered a good challenge for all involved. Oh yeah, all nursery stock too.

Remember, it is not where you buy the stock or how much you paid, it is simply how good the stock is that counts.


Will
 

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buddhamonk

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Thank you for the adivce but honestly - when I look at rick's tree, will's tree and most mugo what I see is a base (may or may not be decent) then narrowing a third of the way up and then a large ugly 360 degree lump where clumps of branches originate - you can even see it on that last picture Will showed.

I agree that it doesn't matter where or how much it cost - I only care about how good it is and will pay what it's worth and will travel long distances to get it.

I like mugos because I think they're good for practicing wiring and I have with trees I've had for 8 years now but I just really have a hard time finding good mugos to work with in the average next door nursery.




Vance - would mind elaborating on what you mean by "chasing a trunk line up successive layers of branches" to develop a good nebari and taper all along the trunk - it just seems hard to understand how the reverse taper of the trees that were shown can be fixed without carving out the lumps or increasing the overall size of the trunk from the base to the top of the tree.


Manny
 

Vance Wood

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It is the seemingly simple process of determining a line that goes more or less upward. This means you must eliminate a lot of branches in that clump you are complaining about. It is replacing the original trunk line, if there is one, with successively smaller side branches and so on. It is true sometimes you find a lump but most of the time there are a lot of larger branches comming off of the original base. Choose one, or maybe two. I have a tree that I kept three of them. This also means that at some point you may end up with a tree that will take a couple of years to develop good branching capable of becoming a bonsai.

I think a lot of the problem with Mugos and people is that too many people want an instant bonsai out of a Mugo Pine. Sometimes possible but most of the time it takes a few years. It is after all about the trunk and base, something time will not always give you even with good branching.

You have to try and think outside the box. I have had people tell me that maybe I am able to get better Mugos here in Michigan as the reason I come up with good Mugos to work with. I don't believe that for a minute, most nurseries purchase from the same sources, Monrovia, Musser and Isley, I don't think they say to themselves " We shall send all the good Mugos to Michigan because that's where that bald headed little fat guy lives that makes bonsai out of Mugo Pine".
 
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You know you have a problem when you have to make the aisles between the benches wider. ;)


Will
 

Rick Moquin

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If you want to develop new roots around the base I agree with the planter method. Also take a dental pick or a very small drill bit, or a very sharp awl and poke holes into the trunk where you would like the roots to form. Push the tool into the trunk until you feel the change in resistance then move to another location. You can put as many holes as you like. Dust them with rooting hormone and pack long fibered sphagnum moss around that area of the trunk and mound that up with a bit of soil to keep the sphagnum in place. Give the tree a couple of years and you should get some roots developing where you want them. Don't do any of this till late June and then you can fool around with the roots till September.
Is this technique applied above or below the current soil line? I presume above as the use of soil to retain the sphagnum is mentioend, or can it be applied below the soil line? and, what is the difference if any?

As to the grey looking Mugo: Take a clean piece of white paper, put it under the foliage and with the flat of your hand sort of bang on the foliage like you were gently slapping something. Check the paper. If there are little specks on it look at them carefully. If they move you have red spider mites, the probable reason for the grey color.
... no spider mites. As the foliage is soft and pliable, I believe it has a good chance of survival. The tint described is a blueish grey. As previously mentioned a chance I was willing to take, for nursery stock with character.
 

Vance Wood

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You poke the holes and lay out the sphagnum in the spots where you want roots. Then wait, maybe three years maybe four. Pines are not the quickest trees in the world to root, but if you find a good base it is worth the wait.
 

Rick Moquin

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You poke the holes and lay out the sphagnum in the spots where you want roots. Then wait, maybe three years maybe four. Pines are not the quickest trees in the world to root, but if you find a good base it is worth the wait.
Yes Vance I understand the information of pricking the tree where I want the roots, but does it make a difference if the prickling takes place above or below the soil line? perhaps to rephrase the question does the sphagnum moss require do be above or below the soil line?
 

Vance Wood

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Yes Vance I understand the information of pricking the tree where I want the roots, but does it make a difference if the prickling takes place above or below the soil line? perhaps to rephrase the question does the sphagnum moss require do be above or below the soil line?
Remove the tree from the container. Remove the soil from the top of the soil mass down to the point where you want the new roots and proceed as I have described in the previous post. There is no reason to do otherwise assuming this is the new surface area you desire to develop.
 
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