Newb Pine Questions

karen82

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I'm still pretty new to bonsai, especially pines. I love the look of pines but the only ones that grow around here wild are eastern white pines.
I decided to try a JBP and ordered a cheap one from Brussel's bonsai last fall (mainly to see how it handled the winter here). I got a relatively healthy tree but it is very ugly. I meant to slip pot it into a pond basket, but the root system was not well developed and most of the soil just fell off. So the poor thing suffered through shipping and bare-rooting only a month before hard freezes.
This is the tree when it arrived.
2019-10-27.JPG

And this summer:
asummer 064.JPG
(Note the tree is not kept in a greenhouse, I had it in the greenhouse (unheated at that point) on the first few freezing nights last fall while it recovered from repotting. Since then it's been 100% outdoors.)


Now I am wondering what to do with it, I know some will probably say give up and start with a better tree with lower branches, but I don't like giving up, plus I want to make sure this one survives another winter here before getting a more expensive tree.
I've read as much as I can find on JBP but there doesn't seem to be a lot on specifics. I plan to treat everything above the first whorl as a sacrifice branch. But those lower branches are very weak.
I want to make the lower branches stronger, and I know decandling is the usual way to manage vigor, but I didn't think this tree was strong enough for that yet (maybe next year?). Is there a better way to keep the lower branches stronger without weakening the tree overall? I was thinking of cutting off most of the branches from the top whorl gradually at some point, but when is the best time to do that? I'm hoping I did the right thing by not decandling this year and letting it just grow.
 

bonhe

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Hi Karen82,
Well, if I were you, I would use eastern white pine for bonsai since it is around you. However, you have JBP now, so you need to raise it 😊

I agree with you about not doing de candle this year. You need to remove all the needles with the brown - reddish tip (old needles) and to fertilize the tree well. Of course full sun, too.

Because I love literati, I see you have an excellent promising specimen there! If you want to make the lower branch be stronger, you have to remove the top of it which I don’t recommend at this time. So, please think of literati and you are ready to go for it.😊
Hope this help and good luck to you
Thụ Thoại
 

Waldo

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Not an expert on JBP but I would leave at least one of the lower branches and let it grow out to increase the girth near the base. I think the tree has a lot of potential even at this stage as an informal upright. I think you are doing the right thing let it grow and get healthy. Which it seems to be doing. You could wire some of those upper branches down and style it. If you study it, it will kind of tell you what branch or branches need to be removed from those whorls. But It will back bud next spring maybe even more this summer. That will help you decide what direction you might want to go with it. Best of luck with it. Keep us posted.
 

penumbra

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Its top heavy and you need to bring it down a bit. IMHO.
 

Shibui

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Developing pine is different from developing other species. Pine should be a long term project, especially when starting with immature, cheap tree.
I would not even think about style or shape now. The trunk needs to grow but you also need to keep viable active shoots to build a bonsai after growing. The process is very hard to explain in text but I find I usually end up cutting way back at some stage and regrowing the tree from one of the lower branches. Every year or 2 many of the branches need to be cut back to promote more shoots - note that is slightly different from candle pruning. Sacrifice branches do a lot to thicken the trunk.
Literati is much harder than it looks. Good literati are great but very few literati are good.
 

Waldo

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I would think about shape now. The trunk will continue to grow in girth regardless. As long as there are some sacrificial branches that will help that happen. As long as the tree is healthy and vigorous it will tolerate some
wiring as long as it is not too extreme and stressful. I would try bending some branches down and see what you think. I have a tree about the same age as yours I have only had for about 8 mo. It was a little light on foliage when I got it . Most all of the branches were pointing up, as yours are. I will attach a photo of the tree I am talking about. It has some wire on it. It has a general style toward an informal upright. This shot was taken about 4 or 5 weeks ago. You can see it seems pretty happy. It since has much more candle growth and back budding like yours. Oh, I also had to repot it last fall as it was root bound. I slip potted it and it responded favorably. So, as always, you can wade through all of these dos and don'ts presented here and decide for yourself the direction you want to take your tree. Once again. Best of luck with it. JBP 1.jpg
 

sorce

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I think the fastest/easiest use of this material is also literate.
Since it will have you into "refinement", or using the regular JBP calander quickest.

I'm failing to see what can come of the lower portion, that can't be better purchased in another tree, and made faster also.

Even if you can get the greenhouse to care for this, I would use Mugo next.

Sorce
 

Japonicus

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I was thinking of cutting off most of the branches from the top whorl gradually at some point, but when is the best time to do that?
Keep a sacrifice leader up top. This will best thicken the trunk, allowing it to reach several feet high
if it were in the ground indeed. In the pond basket still allow it free reign on that one leader.
Not so much the lower branches to thicken on pine.
Any time of year you can reduce needles on other branches you plan to remove just before Spring.
@Adair M can share a picture of how JBP are grown keeping a top leader 7, 8 feet high
while developing the bonsai below. Full Sun.
Myself I would go ahead and prune the mid branches you are for certain will not be there
this time next year, pruning Mid ways back with cleaned shears, and seal with cut paste directly.

EWP are particularly difficult to get to back bud, not impossible. The needles tend to stay long as well.
I have one that has barked up nicely and needles are half the normal length now at 2.5” long, tree is 29” tall
so the needle length works ok. Since...EWP is natural there, you will have no problem keeping JWP.

Don’t remove anything on the lowest branches not even old brownish needles till the needle is all brown.
Mid ways up cut branches in half you know you will remove as well as upper branches not the leader,
even today if you have cut paste. If not pluck needles on those branches, sooner the better.
If bark tears use scissors and leave some of the sheath 1/16” long but mainly you want to reduce
the energy those needles are giving the branches you’re wanting to transfer energy to lower ones
untouched.
 

Paradox

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Eastern White Pine are generally frustrating and uncooperative for bonsai. There are very few examples of good bonsai make from them and they are not a good species for a beginner to learn from.

If the JBP cant handle the Maine winters, another good species would be the Japanese White Pine which loves cold winters
 

0soyoung

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Eastern White Pine are generally frustrating and uncooperative for bonsai.
On the other hand, they respond to just about every pine bonsai technique INCLUDING they can be decandled just like JBP/JRP. They respond to partial cutting of the year's shoot after the needles have hardened much better than JWP do. But like just about all white pines they do not bud from bare wood to any appreciable extent.

See the Pinus Strobus thread.
 
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I see a nice potential for a bunjin style tree because there is so much movement low in trunk. My two cents.
 

Adair M

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The picture Japonicus is referring to;

67395DE8-95DF-46C7-A10D-7669C3FCC0F7.jpeg

JBP at Telperion Farms. I think they let those sacrifice branches get 12 to 15 feet tall!

The OP is in Wisconsin, no?

rather than Mugo, I suggest Scots pine. It has a much better needle quality and growth habit. Plus, you can find them at landscape nurseries in “tree form”, whereas Mugos are sold trimmed to be shrubbery.
 

M. Frary

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Since...EWP is natural there, you will have no problem keeping JWP
Not necessarily.
They can't take extreme cold like eastern white pine.
Which are horrible bonsai candidates.
He's in zone 5 so it doesnt get as cold there as here but if it were me I would be looking at scots,mugo or jack pines.
Hands down the best cold weather pine candidates.
 

karen82

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I'm sorry for not responding sooner. I wanted to thank everyone for your advice.
I was going to update about it when I decided what to do with it, but ended up chickening out and doing nothing since it still seems a bit weak (but getting better). I know all those top branches do need some thinning soon, no matter what I decide what to do with it.

As for other pines, there are lots of white pines here, even in my backyard (which is woods). I know they aren't supposed to be very good, and I haven't seen any with any particular promise, but I have been keeping my eye out for one worth collecting. I haven't seen any Scots pines for sale, even at the nurseries here. Actually I haven't seen much of any pines for sale. Maybe they don't sell well here since there are so many wild pines. If I find a decent Scots or Mugo at a nursery, I may try getting one to grow. What about Ponderosa pines?
 

Waldo

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Karen82Ponderosa Y 1.jpg
As you are probably aware, Ponderosa are not indigenous to the Midwest. You may want to conscider being a Ponderosa from a collector of Yamadori Ponderosa. I have purchased 3 Ponderosa'a from a guy in Deadwood SD. His name is Andy Smith. A very nice guy to deal with. You can check out his web-site, Golden Arrow Bonsai. He always has several trees on his site of various ages and prices. Check it out.
They have long needles which can be controlled, and shortened, later on in the trees development. There are some nurseries, on line that sell ponderosa. But they are going to be, most likely seed grown and very young. One of my Ponds is approx. 60 years old and is only about 22" tall. Great bark. Here is a shot of that tree.
 

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