Norfolk Island Pine

Redwood Ryan

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Hey all,

I realize this post was mentioned 3 years ago, but has anyone recently tried NIP as bonsai? I have Googled them as bonsai, but they are the usual ugly clump styles. Anyon have any real pictures or advice about them? I haven't been able to find much about pruning them either. I know they are in stores as Christmas trees right now, so I thought I would ask before buying one to experiment with. I read on this article that they make good cascades. Any thoughts?

http://www.bonsai-bci.com/species/norfolk.html

Thanks!


Ryan
 

grog

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The article's a little suspect imo as they mention lightning limiting their height growing in the eastern US. They're nice houseplants if you can provide enough light.
 

jk_lewis

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I've never seen a decent Norfolk Island Pine bonsai. Their stepped branching and needles just don't lend themseves to bonsai techniques.

Save your $$$
 

jk_lewis

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I've never seen a decent Norfolk Island Pine bonsai. Their stepped branching and needles just don't lend themseves to bonsai techniques.

Save your $$$
 

Attila Soos

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The problem with the Norfolk Island Pine (NIP) is that, apparently, nobody we know has ever had decent material to work with. By decent material, I mean an old trunk with lots of character.

All we have ever seen, is the young seedling, with a pencil trunk and whorled branches. And this is terrible, useless material for bonsai. So, the obvious conclusion is that NIP is bad for bonsai, don't waste your money.

However, when I was in Hawaii, I've hiked in the clould forests of the island, and I've seen them grow into giant trees, that reminded me of redwood, or even more, of Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria). They looked just as impressive as the other types of conifer.
We like redwood as bonsai, but a young redwood seedling is just a useless as a young NIP.

My point is that NIP is no worse than the other straight trunked, fast growing conifers. But the problem is that we don't have any decent material to work with. And, aside from that, they are not really suited for small bonsai. Also, it is true that this species grows in a more symmetrical manner than other conifers, but with pruning, it is not too hard to change that.

If you want to use this species, first you have to spend 15 - 20 years to create some old material with character (by chopping, pruning, and carving). Or go to Hawaii and collect some old, gnarled specimen growing on a lava rock. But then you need to figure out how to bring it back home.

However, if you want to buy it from the local store and train it in a bonsai pot or nursery can, I think you are wasting your time. You won't live long enough to see it as a decent bonsai. It's just not worth the time. As Grog said, you will end up with a nice houseplant, if given enough light.
 
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rockm

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Attila is right. Without aged or ancient stunted material to work with, bor all intents and purposes, Norfolk Island Pine is worthless as bonsai material.

If I'm not mistaken, both bonsai books listed in the bibliography of the article:
Lesniewicz's "Bonsai in Your Home"
Samson's "Creative Art of Bonsai"

are both pretty old. Ever actually seen a copy of either book? I own both. The pics of NIP bonsai in both are rather pathetic.
 

Attila Soos

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If I'm not mistaken, both bonsai books listed in the bibliography of the article:
Lesniewicz's "Bonsai in Your Home"
Samson's "Creative Art of Bonsai"

are both pretty old. Ever actually seen a copy of either book? I own both. The pics of NIP bonsai in both are rather pathetic.
That's true, I have those books as well. Many years ago, when I lived in Canada, and tropical bonsai was a novelty in the Northern Hemisphere, those books were an interesting read.

But many of the examples are nothing more than a curiousity for people who view the tropics as an escapist's paradise. It's also good for people who love growing exotic plants from distant lands. But some of the trees displayed have little or no bonsai value.
 

mcpesq817

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Hey Ryan, do yourself a favor and go to Merrifield Garden Center - they are having a pink tag sale on lots of varieties of trees. Usually the ones that are on sale are the ones that have more character than the typical straight trunk trees that people want for their landscaping. To give you an idea on deals, I saw some landscape trees that normally retail for $300 marked down to $50 or less. For example, they had european hornbeams with 3"+ trunks and what looked like good root bases for $75-100.

I bought a couple of trees from the Fair Oaks location this past weekend that were marked down considerably. They have a huge center out in Gainesville near you, so I would recommend you check them out in the next couple of weekends. Bring a handsaw to chop the tree to fit in your car, or they can deliver to your house.

And stick to the species typically used for bonsai (hornbeam, japanese maples, field maples, stewartia, bald cypress, etc.) - that will be the best use of your money.
 

ml_work

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Ryan, I had the same idea as you do. Couple of years ago I purchased one of the larger NFP from wall mart at Christmas. Put the bows and balls on it through Christmas, then moved outside when it warmed. I was told the same info as all the above (all is true) and also that it would not back bud. In the spring some of the trunks had died back so I cut it back to just one short trunk. It continued to grow new shoots at the top, I cut them off as I do not want it any taller. So far it has not started any new growth lower on the trunk. At this point it looks like a small palm or coconut tree. I had some ideas to try on it and let spring get by before I did anything. so it spent the summer outside in the original pot, brought it in last week to spend the winter in the corner of sun room. Will put in small pot and try my idea this spring. If if shapes to anything I will post a picture.
Have A Blessed Thanksgiving!
Michael
 

Shima

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The problem with the Norfolk Island Pine (NIP) is that, apparently, nobody we know has ever had decent material to work with. By decent material, I mean an old trunk with lots of character.

All we have ever seen, is the young seedling, with a pencil trunk and whorled branches. And this is terrible, useless material for bonsai. So, the obvious conclusion is that NIP is bad for bonsai, don't waste your money.

However, when I was in Hawaii, I've hiked in the clould forests of the island, and I've seen them grow into giant trees, that reminded me of redwood, or even more, of Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria). They looked just as impressive as the other types of conifer.
We like redwood as bonsai, but a young redwood seedling is just a useless as a young NIP.

My point is that NIP is no worse than the other straight trunked, fast growing conifers. But the problem is that we don't have any decent material to work with. And, aside from that, they are not really suited for small bonsai. Also, it is true that this species grows in a more symmetrical manner than other conifers, but with pruning, it is not too hard to change that.

If you want to use this species, first you have to spend 15 - 20 years to create some old material with character (by chopping, pruning, and carving). Or go to Hawaii and collect some old, gnarled specimen growing on a lava rock. But then you need to figure out how to bring it back home.

However, if you want to buy it from the local store and train it in a bonsai pot or nursery can, I think you are wasting your time. You won't live long enough to see it as a decent bonsai. It's just not worth the time. As Grog said, you will end up with a nice houseplant, if given enough light.
Well, I live in one of those cloud forests at 4K feet so I guess I'd better go looking for one. It wouldn't get enough water on lava and I'd ground layer it like I do most everything else.
So many trees, so little time.
 

aziz ghasemi

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Hi friends
I bought this norfolk Island pine tree in small pot a week ago here in Iran Tehran city ,it had little root ball and needs not to prun the root , i just change the pot ,first divided the pot at 1/3 with a hard plastic putting some sand at bottom and the rest covered with cactus soil and planted two cactus on this part, then put on bonsai soil at the rest 2/3 of the pot and planted the NIP ,then decorate the pot surface with colored sand.The nursery seller told me that this NIP grown from the seeds. Thanks Aziz 20160305_121255.jpg 20160305_121425.jpg
 

aziz ghasemi

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I will prune the leaves as the bonsai get stabled in a few days. good luck aziz
 

Redwood Ryan

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Thanks for reminding me that I once thought it was okay to use the abbreviation "NIP" in regards to a tree...
 

DougB

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Aziz that is pretty neat. Does not fit any bonsai/penjing style that I know of, but it is most interesting. Please keep us informed on how it is doing.
 

Cypress187

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I think (pretty sure) Nigel Saunders has one (youtube channel).
 
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