Pine needle question.

edprocoat

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I have posted here that I have never had much luck with pines although I love the look of them. My question about the needles is I have seen the phrases 2 needle pine , 3 needle pine, what does this mean. I know it probably means the needle count, but they all have tons of needles on them. Is this the count for the end of the branch, or is it how they pruduce needles? Another thing if pines are evergreen how does one get smaller needles, I assume evergreen pines must lose their needles at some point. Do you cut the needles or pluck them and let new ones grow?

Sometimes ignorance is bliss, although most times its just ignorance...

ed
 

Kevster

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The needles grown in groups. It's the grouping of the needles that you count.
As for reduction I've done a lot of reading about it but never have done it so I will let someone else explain that.
 

Dav4

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A 2 needle pine is a tree with 2 needles per fascicle (group), a five needle pine has 5 needles per fascicle. A mugo pine and Japanese Black pine are 2 needle pine and Japanese and Eastern White Pine are five needle pines. The distinction also gives a clue for how to manage these trees in bonsai culture. A 2 needle pine is generally a stronger tree that can be pruned more aggressively with techniques like decandling, which is one way to redistribute energy which results in shorter needles. 5 needle pines are less vigorous and require different techniques. Pines generally hold on to their needles for 2-3 years...this years needles are at the very end of the branch and the 2nd and 3rd year needles are further down. The only way to make a 4" needle into a 2" needle is to cut it in half. However, you can make future needles smaller by applying proper pruning techniques like needle plucking, decandling, etc., to these trees at specific times of year.
 

jk_lewis

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Some pines can have varying groupings of needles per fascicle; others have one needle per fascicle, or 4. In north America Loblolly pine (P. taeda) and shortleaf pine (P. echinata), Mountain pine (p. pungens), the Mexican pinon (P. cambroides) vary between 2 and 3 per bundle; Apache pine (P. englemanii) usually has 3 in a bundle, but can have 4 or 5], the singleleaf pinon (P. monophylla) [which as its name suggests has one, Ponderosa pine (P. ponderosa) [commonly 2 or 3], and Parry pinon (P. quadrifolia) has 4.

So using the number of needles per bundle is not a definitive identifiation on pines, though it can eliminate some species from your list of choices.
 

Vance Wood

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Needle count on species of trees run from one to five. The two needle Pines are the most commonly used followed by the five needle Pines (White Pine and Bristle Cone Pine and several others).

There are tons of articles written on needle reduction but sadly within all this sexy technical information the reader often misses the fact that these techniques are self defeating when used on a tree that still needs basic styling and development. Needle reduction is used when a tree approaches artistic maturity. If used prior to this the tree may not reach the point where it becomes a bonsai that needs needle reduction to finish the design. It's kind of like putting the paint on the walls before the roof goes on.
 

FrankP999

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There are tons of articles written on needle reduction ......
I agree; there is not enough on basic development to get a pine to the stage where advanced techniques come into play. I have some 2-4 year old japanese black pines and would like to know more about the steps necessary at that point in the development cycle.

Frank
 

Bonsai Nut

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Pinus pentaphylla :) Latin translation - five needle pine :) Aka Japanese White Pine.

Here's a photo of an Eastern White Pine (another 5 needle pine) to show what we're talking about:

sjPinesFigure2.jpg
 

Vance Wood

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I agree; there is not enough on basic development to get a pine to the stage where advanced techniques come into play. I have some 2-4 year old japanese black pines and would like to know more about the steps necessary at that point in the development cycle.

Frank

In the process of developing a two needle Pine bonsai from nursery or seedling stock the main goal is to develop a decent trunk. This in itself demands that the branches be allowed to develop freely to a point but must also be cut back while there is still an opportunity to keep initial branching close to the trunk. If you attempt to do needle reduction at this point you wind up with skinny trunks and pom pom branches.

It is like fingernails on a black board to me when, after teaching a Mugo workshop, someone comes to me to show off what they have been doing. In essence they have removed all the needles, except those on the ends of branches, and attempted to do needle reduction work when they needed to cut and grow. It's a real temptation to a beginner to experiment with all of these explicit methods used to get little needles not realizing they have set the development of their tree back three, may be four years.

The most important thing in development is to fertilize well, don't freak if the needles are too long, all of this energy will help thicken the trunk and drive back budding in toward the trunk. If back budding development on the inside of the tree is not followed then the entire design of the tree is doomed.
 

Bonsai Nut

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Grafting is a royal hemorrhoid. Why do it if you don't have to?

Because I enjoy taunting you :) Actually I'm not very good at pine grafts. But I have had some success on pines that I am simply unwilling to walk away from. Definitely not as easy as doing it right the first time.
 

jk_lewis

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If you can, look through back issues of International Bonsai. It regularly carries series of articles on pines and pine development, and sometimes devotes entire issues to the subject. Many of the articles are translations of old Japanese magazine articles, but they still are useful. Trees grow the same way today as they did yesterday. The columns are written by real-live westerners and are quite useful.

Bonsai Today also devoted many pages to pines in each issue. These -- especially in issues 1-50 -- are very good. Stone Lantern, the publisher of BT, has compiled many of these into a book on pines. I'm told that none were edited from the magazine versions and the result is a somewhat haphazard book, but study probably would get you going.
 

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