Pine training

K5ATG

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I'm growing some Loblolly Pines and starting today Japaneses Black Pines. Is there a certain age that is ideal to start wiring and training? I think I read somewhere that 4 years is about right. I know I have some time to go yet as my oldest pine tree is almost 4 months old.
 

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Growing pine from seed is awesome, you can make sure stuff doesn't get away from you on day one. Loblolly grow super fast, 3 flushes-ish. I'm told they are extremely brittle, like jrp. But I bent my one year old pines up and cut half the roots off, all 6 survived and grew with vigor. It's important, in my opinion, to wire trees as early as possible, it never gets easier with time. I'm not an accomplished bonsai artist, just getting my feet wet but I hear pretty mixed thing about loblolly. I think needles length is easily the biggest hurdle. Glad to see this species popping up a lot this summer. I started a few from seed this spring too but finches keep eating them
 

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I'm growing some Loblolly Pines and starting today Japaneses Black Pines. Is there a certain age that is ideal to start wiring and training? I think I read somewhere that 4 years is about right. I know I have some time to go yet as my oldest pine tree is almost 4 months old.
If you are primarily referring to wiring for trunk movement then I find it works best for me to begin when the tree has reached a certain development stage. In my climate that is usually year 1 and two. After that it is more difficult to do, due to size and rigidity. This is because i like to start with a fairly sharp bend low down.
The reason i am using the " it depends route is because it does" . Just saying Year four means little to me as plants grow so differently depending on climate, care, genetics, etc. When my JBP reach 10-12 inches tall or more is when i start wiring the trunk for movement. If i waited till they were four years old then they would be in excess of 4 feet tall with trunks averaging 1 inch or so. Tougher to create movement at that point. To make my point here is a picture of a four year old JBP from a seedling cutting. This tree has gentler movement and will be developed as a taller form.IMG_0871.JPG
 

bonhe

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I started wiring my pines when they were 3 yo. The best time to wire and bend the black pine is when the trunk or branches are about 2-3 yo because you can easily make the short curve. 4 yo wood or older can only be made the long curves.
Bonhe
 

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If you are primarily referring to wiring for trunk movement then I find it works best for me to begin when the tree has reached a certain development stage. In my climate that is usually year 1 and two. After that it is more difficult to do, due to size and rigidity. This is because i like to start with a fairly sharp bend low down.
The reason i am using the " it depends route is because it does" . Just saying Year four means little to me as plants grow so differently depending on climate, care, genetics, etc. When my JBP reach 10-12 inches tall or more is when i start wiring the trunk for movement. If i waited till they were four years old then they would be in excess of 4 feet tall with trunks averaging 1 inch or so. Tougher to create movement at that point. To make my point here is a picture of a four year old JBP from a seedling cutting. This tree has gentler movement and will be developed as a taller form.View attachment 199027
And here is a picture showing the difference between 2 year old pine and 4 year old to illustrate why i like to create movement early on.
 

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Ok so I should base it on the individual tree. Wire it before the wood becomes inflexible.
 

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Ok so I should base it on the individual tree. Wire it before the wood becomes inflexible.
Yes, that is a good understanding. Now add to that the intent you have for that tree in development. What size, what style? Experiment, tighter bends, looser gentler curves. Remember that as the tree grows the effect will soften out.
 
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River's Edge

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Goodness! 2 years! I’m dropping out of JBP seedling contest now!

Is that the 3rd years’ candle opening and elongating or is it still in the 2nd growing season?
That's the spring candle beginning third year growing season. I have the advantage of long growing season, mild winters and plenty of sunshine during the growing season. Often the tree's will produce two to three flushes of growth per season. With the automated watering and full sun in free draining mix. They would be slightly further along if i did not choose to radially cut the stems for better nebari as seedling cuttings.
The native pines in this area grow almost all year long at sea level with a very short dormancy period.
The drawback is the speed with which wire can cut in and scar. On very young pines i suggest monitoring the wire weekly beginning at three to four weeks after application.
 

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@Riversedgebonsai I'm going to pretend you didn't just complain about your pines developing too fast haha. But I thought a little wire scarring was a good thing for young stock. Or are you referring to finished specimens?
 

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@Riversedgebonsai I'm going to pretend you didn't just complain about your pines developing too fast haha. But I thought a little wire scarring was a good thing for young stock. Or are you referring to finished specimens?
Well it depends;) A little is ok by me, but i prefer less is more when it comes to wire marks. Let's just say you will be surprised how quickly it can cross that line or in this case create that line. Keep in mind i am working small numbers, after above average results rather than quantity. Also i do not favour the bulgy twisty styles created by strangulation or engulfed wire techniques. Caveat: I have seen some really cool juniper.
When i studied the top pines i saw in Japan and the top pines i have seen in various shows in North America i really favoured the trees that were developed without obvious scarring and wire marks evident. Actually most of the winning trees fit in that category! Just a personal preference not saying that is the only way to style or show trees.
I believe the concept that it is good to have wire marks refers sometimes to setting the branch position and that is possible without marks Just a bit of extra time and retiring usually if needed.
 

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Update for Pine Training
Over the last week i have been reviewing the progress of some JBP. These trees are developing well and in their fifth growing season since germination from seed and radial stem cutting! At this time i am looking to ensure that shading does not damage lower branches and foliage. I am also checking to be sure i did not leave branching that may create an issue with the trunk. The goal is to continue trunk development while encouraging and maintaining options for later. Typically this involves minor cleanup and pruning problem areas before they create knuckles or inverse taper. In some cases i may need to induce budding by more cutback or other techniques IMG_9356.JPGIMG_9359.JPGIMG_9366.JPGIMG_9368.JPGto ensure enough lower branching and options moving forward.

There is often discussion over selecting pre-bonsai from a Bonsai Nursery or regular landscape nurseries, Home Depot etc.

From a Bonsai nursery point of view you should expect reasonable nebari, healty root formation, some trunk movement and taper with branch choices or placement depending on the progression of each piece!

Regardless of where pre-bonsai material is selected those are factors that should be considered in determining the value and potential of the material for Bonsai.

I thought it might be of educational interest to post a couple of pictures of JBP from seed at this stage. I estimate that each tree at this stage has received general care ( water, fertiliser, turning ) for almost five years plus approximately five or six hours of individual attention involving, germination, radial stem cutting, repotting ( 3 times) , wiring, pruning etc. I know a lot of Bonsai Nut participants have started down this road and expect to see some wonderful examples in the future.
caveat: these are neither the best or the worst of my crop, just examples for interest and educational purposes.

If you look closely at the pictures you should be able to see choices, possible new apex's and alternatives for sacrifice and primary branches.
It is my practice to leave as much foliage as possible for as long as possible while in the development stage, then change apex and repeat the process. Hope you enjoy the pictures!
 

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