Pine Root Layer?

chrisbotero

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I collected this pine (dont know exact species, 5-needle) near Mt Adams last summer and Im hoping to reduce the large roots over the next year or two so he can be placed in a reasonable sized pot. As you can see, (sorry about the order of the pictures) there are two main roots shooting off in both directions and a few other smaller roots requiring a box about 4 feet long. He has done really well over the winter and there are a ton of new buds this spring so Im thinking some root work might be in order this year.

My thought, considering the girth of the 2 main brances and their obvious importanct to the health of the tree, is to ground layer both of these near the trunk creating enough new roots over the year to eliminate those large roots. Im assuming I would treat this as any other layer stripping a deep ring on the roots close to the trunk and applying rooting hormone before planting back in this pot. Then, hopefully, it will develop many new roots over the following year and the main root can be cut back.

I guess Im looking for a little guidance here. I think this tree has great potential and I would hate to mess it up. At the same point, those two roots really need to be shortened. Any guidance you could give me would be wonderful concerning the process (although I know the basic layering process), timing, etc.

Thanks!
 

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Bill S

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I could be off base here because I don't know what type of pine this is either, but one of the first things you here about repotting/collecting and potting up pines is, to NOT bare root pines, it looks like you washed off the soil.
Then you plan to do it again during the next 2 years, my guess is this will be a dead pine before then. Pines it's been said you dig them out, pot them up and don't even think about the roots for 2 to 3 years minimum. Unless you know something most others don't, you might want to do some research.

Some would also say that if you don't know what it is don't dig it up, til you know how to care for it.

Good Luck.
 

chrisbotero

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It was in some pretty sandy soil about 6 miles up a mountain. I kept what I could for soil but it was very difficult considering how shallow the roots were and how dry it was. I kept them moist and potted the tree the following day in Boon's mix. That was about 9 months ago and the only hint it has given to stress was a little browning on a few needle tips within a month of transplant. It has new growth popping out all over so Im quite sure its healthy. I think you are right as far as letting it sit. It would be a full year since transplant prior to any work , and the only reason I would consider doing anything is the growth is has shown. I have to respectfully disagree about not collecting a tree if I dont know the exact species. We all have to learn and I will be the first to admit I dont know much. Im only a year into this but I read everything I can, Im on this forum reading and asking questions, Im doing all that I can. At some point you have to make the leap and learn by fire. I do understand your point and I appriciate your input. It might be good to let the tree sit for another year before touching it.
 

Vance Wood

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For what it's worth I would suggest against doing anything with the roots on a collected tree for at least three growing seasons no matter how good it looks today, especially a five needle Pine. Can you post a picture of the growth close up?
 
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rockm

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"I have to respectfully disagree about not collecting a tree if I dont know the exact species. We all have to learn and I will be the first to admit I dont know much. We all have to learn and I will be the first to admit I dont know much. Im only a year into this but I read everything I can, Im on this forum reading and asking questions, Im doing all that I can. At some point you have to make the leap and learn by fire."

Well, some folks have to learn the hard way...

You're going to learn a few things pretty quickly with this attitude--none of them good. Understanding what you're doing and what you're doing it to is a big, important lesson in collecting trees. Trees are not all alike-they have different soil requirements, care requirements, hardiness, etc. Knowing what species you're working with may not seem important to you now, but that knowledge greatly improves your ability to care for it.

Also, impatience kills more collected trees than actual collection. Dig a tree--make it comfortable, then FORGET ABOUT IT FOR AT LEAST TWO YEARS. Don't make any plans for it, poke around in its roots or manipulate it branches. Don't assume new growth means you're out of the woods. Trees, especially older evergreens, can grow on momentum alone, stored reserves can push new growth. You may lift the tree out of its soil to discover there isn't a single new root, even though there are new buds--reserves...

Sure, you've got to take a leap, but knowing how to roll on your shoulder when you hit the ground helps prevent injury.
 

Vance Wood

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The bottom line is this: You have a tree with a good basic trunk structure and is worth the efforts to keep alive. It would be a shame to see decent material destroyed because of impatience and what you are planing to do will most certainly kill this tree. Leave it alone for a few years. As to what kind of tree you have; I cannot tell from your photos if indeed it is a five needle pine so I have to assume you are correct and it is indeed--a five needle Pine. Possibilities: Western White Pine, Limber Pine, Sugar Pine or White Bark Pine, all have five needles and are native to your collecting area. All are borderline sensitive and should be treated with care.
 

JasonG

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I know where you collected this tree as I collect in the roughly the same area. What you have is a Western White Pine. Limber to grow here but are a high elevation tree mostly and tend to be larger. Looking at your root pictures I would have probably cut them back a bit harder based on your pictures, you have room to do that. But I would have done that from the get go. Now, if I did anything to the roots bend them or cut them back a bit, but not cut back drastically.

I have found that WWP are a very tough tree, I have collected quite a few and they seem to handle a lot of stress just fine. They are much tougher than one would think. With that said, if you don't have much experience then I would err on the side of caution in a big way.

See ya on the mts in June when the snow melts!
 

JasonG

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Based off your picture and not seeing this in person here is what I would have done. I would have bent the roots on the upper left to shorten that side and cut the right long root back to a side root that was viable. Again, based on this picture I would have gone to the red line. I might have then bent the remaining large root, more like pulled it over to get it into a smaller box. This wouldn't have added hardly any extra stress to the tree and saved you quite a bit of time to get it into a pot. Now it will probably grow lots of roots from the ends of those long roots that you will just cut off next year.

Just my 2cents on how I would have done it. Now I am off to re pot collected pines all day today :)

 

chrisbotero

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I dont mean to have an attitude about this, I just feel that if I waited until I knew everything about every different tree I might run into in the woods, I would never go. I have a decent knowledge base, I am part of our local Bonsai group, I attend mentorship meetings through the group and I read everything I can. Plus, Im here asking questions about things I dont know. That being said, Im not going to pass up a nice piece of material because I dont know its latin name or the optimal ph levels. I feel, and I think most agree, that bonsai is an on-going learning process. Sure I might mess up and kill a tree or two (who hasnt) but I feel thats one way we learn. Of course if I can be patient and avoid killing trees, that would be great! Sorry if I came off snoody.

Here are a few pictures of the new growth, the needles (all stuck together, raining today) and the bark on the upper section. There are probably 20-30 new little buds like this all over the tree. That being said, the general consensus is that I shouldnt touch this guy for another year. I would rather wait than kill it.

A member of our club has a big, beautiful Ponderosa that only had one big root and he said they basically air-layered the root. Thats where I got this idea. What about just doing one side each year? I think I could dig out enough soil to do the work on one side without really disturbing the other side. Does this process seem like a waste? Should I just wait another year and just chop the root?

Thanks for the input, Jason. I tried to keep as much root as possible with this guy last year. I figured he would be stressed enough moving from 8000 feet up on a mountain to basically sea level in the city so I didnt cut anything more than I had to when digging.
 

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rockm

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"That being said, Im not going to pass up a nice piece of material because I dont know its latin name or the optimal ph levels. I feel, and I think most agree, that bonsai is an on-going learning process. Sure I might mess up and kill a tree or two (who hasnt) but I feel thats one way we learn>

You didn't know what species you had--which is pretty fundamental in caring for a collected tree...

Some basic regard for what you're digging is also helpful. It's not all about you and what you can learn. It's about not killing an older tree. Yeah, we all kill trees, but most of us ain't collecting hundred year old pines off of mountains our first year out...
 

chrisbotero

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Im not a barbarian going out and hacking down hundred year old trees. I dont know where you got that idea. I just didnt know the exact species of 5-needle pine. That being said, I was able to retain most of the roots, they were kept moist until he was repotted, I sprinkled some rooting hormone on the roots and put him in a wood box with Boons mix, I placed him in partial sun and misted several times a day for several months watering him only on occasion and he now is pushing a bunch of new growth. I agree that it really is about keeping the trees healthy, but it's the learning about the trees, how to collect them and how to care for them that keeps them healthy. I collected roughly 20 trees last year (my first year) and only one died (a little pine that in hindsight had very little potential) . Lesson learned from that...do not give too much love (water) to pines and be more particular about which trees I actually collect.

I appriciate your concern and I also do not want people killing great trees simply because they are uneducated, but its unfair to judge me simply because I didnt know the exact species of pine. Ive done enough research and talked with enough people with the experience that I now know how to care for pines. Granted each species will have slight differences but the fundamentals are the same. I worked hard for this guy (12 miles and about 3000 feet round trip) and I, more than anyone, want him to be healthy. That is the reason for this posting, to ask those with more experience than myself for advice before I make a mistake.
 

Klytus

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I'm willing to bet it will be fine.

I am the barbarian hacking down 100 year old trees i don't know the name of.

As much root as practicable!
 

ghues

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Hi Chris,
Being relatively new at this myself I know how you feel about collecting but I was fortunate in getting to know a fellow who has collected mountain material for decades and he showed me the ropes. I'd suggest that if you can, hook up with one of your club members and go on a collecting trip with them.
When we collected we go for as much root ball and soil as possible (only cutting off the stabilizer roots). Once home we clean it up a bit by removing as much of the other plants/mosses in the humus layer and trim/bend roots to fit the container/grow box and then we leave them for two growing seasons or 3 root egress's (two per year – so for us that would equate to fall/spring/fall as we collect in August-October or visa versa for when we collect Shore pine in the spring.).
One thing up here that make Western White Pine undesirable is the White Pine Blister rust. Not sure how prevalent it is down your way but you might want to “Google” it and see if you have any of the secondary host plants in your area.
Good luck with your tree and its survival, only time will tell. Keep us posted.
Cheers Graham
 

chrisbotero

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Thanks for the info Graham.

Im planning a collecting trip with a fellow memeber for mid April (assuming our place isnt covered with snow) and I imagine that will be good. If nothing else we will get our excercise! Members here have told me to put the trees in pumice after collecting. Ive used pumice, lava and Boons mix.

I will probably wait until this time next spring before working on this tree at all. That would give him almost 2 full years without any disturbance. Im sure he will be very aclimated by then.
 

rockm

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Chris,

No need to be so sensitive. I hardly called you a barbarian. I said you might want to identify specifically the trees you're digging before you dig. It makes things easier on you and on the tree. It is a key not only in actual collection, it is key in subsequent training down the road.

I also said that given the age and quality of the material you're digging, you might want to get more experience on material before digging the "really good stuff."--the first specimens you dig as a collector can also be the quickest to die off. If I'm unsure about a tree in the woods and it's got alot of bonsai appeal, I dig the same species of tree NEXT to the good one and see how it behaves for a couple of years...I can come back and get the good one when I know more...
 
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