Pine questions.


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I have only tried pines twice, one was a Fl. pine, large needles. I found it off a back road where it had been mowed many time. It was about 4 inches high and a five inch thick trunk and six long thin shoots growing up from it with those long needles. I tried pinching off the needles and they grew back just as big. I lost it a year later, I feel I watered it too much as the roots were actually spongy, it seemed to do good at first, watering it each day and weekly using a spray with Peters liquid plant food and misting the needles, but then it turned brown and died in about a months time, during which I stepped up water and fertilized it more hoping to keep it alive.

I then bought a mini christmas tree at wal-mart which was vibrant and healthy and had great small needles, they even grew up the trunk. I removed those and put in a larger pot hoping to get some root growth. It was potted in a soil that had a good bit of small pine bark nuggets through it. I broke up some pine nuggets that I bought from lowes and mixed it with potting soil and fertilized it and left it alone for 16 months during which time it hardly grew but looked healthy and grew more needles on the trunk again. It never really took off, although it never did poorly either, that is until I took it out of the pot in late june and seen it had not shown much root growth, there were a few fine roots coming from the original undisturbed root ball but that was it. I repotted it back in the existing soil and watered it and it slowly turned yellow then brown and died.

I have never attempted pine again, although I love each one I see, its just I hate to kill a plant. Is there a good pine thats easier to grow and train. Another thing I have never seen any Japanese pine anywhere I look, I guess I could buy one online but I would rather see the plant and look at it to see if i would like it. Most the pines I see in a nursery are not japanese and are too tall for my tastes and as I travel to the winter months I take my Bonsai with me. I wonder if that has anything to do with my pine luck?

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Eric Schrader

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San Francisco, CA
JBP are probably the best and most tolerant of bonsai care.....collecting pines can be quite challenging. JBP are easy to grow from seed - and this will give you a chance to shape the trunk as you see fit. Seeds are easily obtained on the internet. As for where to buy stock trees in Ohio I'm not sure but if you start googlng and are willing to do some driving I'm betting there is someone within a couple hundred miles that sells black pines.


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Washington, DC
Sounds like you just need to learn the basics of pine care. It sounds like you planted them in regular soil too, which is not good.

Go to and read the species articles on pines. Mugo pines are easy to find at garden centers are make excellent trees to experiment with since they're cheap and readily available. Try to read some of Vance Wood's articles on purchasing nursery pines. Very educaitonal.

Not sure how you handle bringing all your bonsai with you all the way to Florida. The stress the pines receive from acclimatizing doesn't help either.

Brian Van Fleet

Pretty Fly for a Bonsai Guy
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B’ham, AL
Doesn't sound like your first 2 pine selections were destined for success. You may want to consider making an investment into the right material this time to have a better shot at keeping one alive. This is an old discussion here, so I won't spend time on the merits of "getting what you pay for".

JBP are vigorous trees and can live in OH and FL, but it's helpful to start with a JBP that has been cultivated for bonsai from an early age. This way you're not constantly hoping for back-budding.

Taking trees from one climate to another; especially this many zones apart probably doesn't help matters either. Tropicals are probably fine, but if you start working with pines, I'd suggest burying the pot in a protected area and letting it stay in OH over the winter. It shouldn't need any attention during the winter months.

A few places I have used to purchase my black pines and definitely recommend:

Evergreen Gardenworks; Brent may have something to fit your requirements if you contact him through his site.

Gregory Beach Bonsai: Email Don Blackmond

George Muranaka's eBay store

Email Brussel's: and inquire about their nursery stock. They have pines in 5 to 15 gal. nursery cans from $98-$350 which are arguably the best "value" category of JBP I've found there...but it helps to pick through the stock yourself.
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