Pinus contorta contorta (Shore pine)

parhamr

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I've purchased another native North American nursery specimen: a Pinus contorta contorta 'Spaan’s Dwarf' cultivar. I was feeling like taking a bit of a risk with my wallet and tools; it cost $84.99 for a specimen with 2.5" trunk diameter, 24" height, and healthy roots that fill a ~5 gallon nursery pot.

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I removed a lot of foliage that was crossing, straight and overgrown, and growing up or down. I'm planning that the form will be a gnarled and twisted informal upright, as if it has been exposed to winds and unstable soil.

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I took off more than the recommended amount of foliage but I feel confident it will survive: this is native to my area, the tree is in perfect health, and I have become pretty good with aftercare. I'll now baby the tree for two years and then gradually select for new, back-budded foliage.

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I removed some of the upper soil to expose the base, reported into a 10-gallon grow bag, inoculated with ectomycorrhizal tablets, and used equal parts pumice, diatomite gravel, and pine bark. I fed the tree with iron and cottonseed meal.
 
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parhamr

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The needles have yellowed a bit at their tips. Summer was pretty hot and October was super rainy—nearly a record.

The tree is looking okay and it only appears to have terminal buds. I've looked closely and epicormic buds aren't visible.0
 

Wilson

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The needles have yellowed a bit at their tips. Summer was pretty hot and October was super rainy—nearly a record.
The tree is looking okay and it only appears to have terminal buds. I've looked closely and epicormic buds aren't visible.0
Same crazy rain in the north east, trees are drenched!
 

Soldano666

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Jusr make certain that you are double checking to make sure your trees are indeed getting enough water.
With out a doubt vance. we had Sun the last two days, Checked still good and rain again today. I moved some of my stuff under shelter. to keep it from being in a constant wet condition
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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@parhamr - nice one. The graft is well healed, hard to see, which is good. Nice short needles. I saw Michael Hagedorn's Crataegus post on P. contorta var contorta, concerning winter care, the shore pine is not as hardy as its cousin, the lodgepole pine. That article convinced me I don't need one, as I already have too many tender trees to protect in winter. But you are in Portland so this should be no problem at all.

I'll be curious how yours develops. Nice.
 

parhamr

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@Leo in N E Illinois oh, damn—I didn't want to believe you about the grafting but I see what you mean. I didn't expect to be purchasing a grafted tree, but maybe that's to be expected of a niche cultivar. I'll take a closer look when possible. I'm relieved that layering above the likely graft site should be simple.

As far as climate goes, I'm in a bit of a mild microclimate amongst the city itself. Michael Hadgedorn and Ryan Neil are both far enough out to experience bitter, hard freezes.
 

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I'd dare say in a couple of years, you might not even know that it had been grafted, although many people might suspect that it was... if it managed to push a sacrifice branch/growth below the graft, I'd leave it for a while anyway; not much chance of that though, I suspect.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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There is nothing wrong with a well done grafted tree. Frankly I would not try to air layer your tree off its graft.

First, I do not know if a P. contorta contorta will be successful being layered. It is in a different sub family than JBP, and as far as I know, only JBP some JRP and a very limited number of Mugo cultivars can be rooted by air layering.

JWP does not air layer easily at all. Exception is JWP 'Kokonoe' and one other. But even these exceptions may take 10 years or more for a ground layer to root.

So for that reason I would not try to air layer or ground layer your P. contorta 'spaan's dwarf'. Unless Michael Hagedorn or some experienced professional tells you that P. contorta will reliably air layer or ground layer, assume it won't produce roots. (not just a nobody like me on the internet)

Second reason to not air layer is the graft is fine. It is well done, As the tree develops bark, it will be invisible. There is no need to do it.

Trying to air layer or ground layer will delay styling this as a bonsai for a minimum of 4 years, you won't want to style the tree until at least 1 to 2 years after it grows roots. If it takes 4 or 5 years to produce roots, it will be 6 to 7 years before you can style it. And if it is as reluctant to produce roots as a JWP, expect a 90% or greater FALIURE rate. What happens if it fails? - tree is dead. So if you like this tree, don't try to air layer or ground layer it off its graft.

The only way to propagate asexually a given clone of most pines is to use grafting. There is nothing ''wrong'' with using a grafted tree for bonsai. A well done graft is perfectly acceptable. Only a poorly done graft is bad. A well done graft is fine. Most JWP used for bonsai are grafted.

The ''prejudice' against grafted trees comes from the collectors of cork bark JBP. Here, because the desireable trait is the bark on the trunk, the graft union of a grafted cork bar JBP is often quite visible, unless done expertly and very low into the root zone, then it will be hard to see.

But for pines with ''normal'' bark, usually a good graft will disappear with time. Then only a trained eye will pick up where it is at.

So don't layer this tree.
 

Soldano666

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I've been watching a couple scots pine graft trees that seemed okay aside from a bark color diffrence for a copluple years, I don't think I've seen results yet but as I thin the top and build my tree thru cutting back won't the rootstock eventually start to out grow the scion? Causing a swelling at the graft? I was told my shit is no more than. 10 years old but what about when its 25?... 50? Do these grafts eventually make an unpleasant bulge on the lower trunk if the graft is not super low above the nebari? I wonder this about all the grafted pines I see, how will they look in another decade or 2.??? Thoughts??
 

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The whole idea about grafting is to get the tree on a stronger rootstock, so, to attempt to take it off of that rootstock is counter productive... IF the rootstock is indeed more robust than the scion, then there should never be a problem with reverse taper IMHO; I think that would be a rare occasion... but I'm no expert.
 

Vance Wood

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The whole idea about grafting is to get the tree on a stronger rootstock, so, to attempt to take it off of that rootstock is counter productive... IF the rootstock is indeed more robust than the scion, then there should never be a problem with reverse taper IMHO; I think that would be a rare occasion... but I'm no expert.
You are missing an important point; this tree is a named cultivar and as such cannot be reproduced sexually, it must be propagated by air layer, graft or cuttings. If it is not done this way it is virtually impossible to cultivate by use of seed culture. In essence a named cultivar is a clone.
 

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@ Vance

I was looking at it from the point of "winter hardiness" or hardiness in general... thats the first consideration when you live here.

As I am often reminded by the garden centres, (particularly with fruit trees) we get grafted trees on a more robust rootstock to be able to survive the cold winters. It's not always because the cultivar is "reproduction-ally challenged", but the natural rootstock is inferior. Plum trees are especially grafted for this reason, only two types are native here, and even they are rare in the "wild"... AND, I also suspect that it is done for both reasons, at the same time.

As a side note, I tried to graft a JM "Red Dragon" onto a native understory maple that I have in the back yard. From what I read the two "could in theory" "take"... but I highly doubt it and if it does, the likelihood of it being successful over a long period of time would be something like 1/2, of 1/2, of 1/2 a percent chance....lol... but the understory plant is overgrown and the JM would never survive here... even the rootstock that it was on will not survive the winter.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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@SKBonsaiGuy - check Vertrees, there is a nice list of compatible species of Acer to use as understock for Acer palmatum. The list covers all species covered in the book, it is surprising, maples are pretty specific about which species they will form long term stable grafts with. For JM, you are pretty much stuck with using JM, Acer palmatum, and Vine maple, Acer circinatum, that is about it. Others either won't take, or won't be stable for the long term.

Each nursery has its priorities in selections for understock and scion wood used for propagation. Wholesale fruit tree growers may be most interested in controlling size of the tree for the orchard, in addition to disease control. The nursery producing for the retailer selling to the home and hobby grower will not be as focused on narrow size range, and disease resistance. They may be more focused on appearance.

Ornamental nurseries might have appearance as a priority. All will have the climate of their principal customers in mind. The priority list will change from location to location, species to species, and a host of conditions. Profitability is always a top concern for commercial nurseries, meaning what the customer wants, they will create. IF there is enough demand. The bonsai hobby is too small to be noticed by most of the commercial wholesalers. There are a few specialty nurseries, like Evergreen Garden Works and Dragonfly Farms, but they are more propagating in retail quantity, rather than wholesale amounts.
 

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The only "designer maple" (if I can call them that) which is any good here, is possibly Korean Maple (am babying one now)... zone 3 is a bitch for a lot of the stuff you fellas talk about regularly, so "we" have to subsist on larch, American Elms, etc.

I always confuse the nurseries when I say anything about "bonsai"... you'd think that "tree people" would have some curiosity about it, but mostly they give me a blank stare and show me to the orphans pile that are unhealthy... this might sound like a bad thing, but broken, twisted, heat scorched, stunted, uprooted, etc. material is exactly what I am after... but of course I never tell them that, and after a show of a great deal of scepticism I usually walk away with a freebie, or a $5.00 tree... :p

The only tree that I have right now that is not zone 3 tolerant is an English Yew... I have an old styrofoam cooler that I'm going to cut off, place the tree in it, then put scraps of and old dark blanket into the pot, then place it in the window of my garage... either it will make it, or not... most likely not.
 

Vance Wood

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@ Vance

I was looking at it from the point of "winter hardiness" or hardiness in general... thats the first consideration when you live here.

As I am often reminded by the garden centres, (particularly with fruit trees) we get grafted trees on a more robust rootstock to be able to survive the cold winters. It's not always because the cultivar is "reproduction-ally challenged", but the natural rootstock is inferior. Plum trees are especially grafted for this reason, only two types are native here, and even they are rare in the "wild"... AND, I also suspect that it is done for both reasons, at the same time.

As a side note, I tried to graft a JM "Red Dragon" onto a native understory maple that I have in the back yard. From what I read the two "could in theory" "take"... but I highly doubt it and if it does, the likelihood of it being successful over a long period of time would be something like 1/2, of 1/2, of 1/2 a percent chance....lol... but the understory plant is overgrown and the JM would never survive here... even the rootstock that it was on will not survive the winter.
Where is here?
 

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