Scarifying Bark?

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I have read, in different places, about cutting lines into the bark of a youngish pine tree to make the bark develop an aged appearance. However I have never talked to anyone who tried it nor seen any photos of trees that have had that done successfully.

Also missing is detailed instructions as to how and when to do it. Spacing of cuts? All parallel to the trunk line or some cross way? How long you can make them and get a way with it. What happens when the pine sap starts oozing out of all the cuts? As I say, I have read it can be done but no details.

Any help out there?
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Usually scarifying the trunk of a pine is done with wire and the result is unnatural. If you want bark to age more quickly, you can grow some sacrafice branches which will also develop the trunk quickly, and/or wrap the trunk in wet spaghnum moss, which will "bark up" the tree pretty fast with less risk to the health of the tree. I probably wouldn't cut into the trunk, but if you do, I'd go vertically and not horizontally...
 

rockm

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Any artificial aging technique for the most part looks artificial--FOR YEARS, if not forever. The only true path to aging a trunk is, well, actual AGE.

Scarring the trunk with wire, razors, drills, hammers, etc. looks pretty much like you scarred the trunk with wire, razors, drills and hammers and did it badly.:D:eek: The results don't really approximate age, as much as they just make weird looking wounds that you have to explain...far from the harmonious, natural looking patina real age produces, these techniques are very noticeable and jarring.

Oh, an added caution is these techniques can also kill your tree if you don't know what you're doing:D.

The sphagnum moss trick has the unfortunate side effect of rotting your trunk, or accidentally air layering it--sphagnum is used to air layer because it promotes root growth. If your tree doesn't die, or isn't seriously compromised, the aesthetic return for the treatment is weird looking mushy rotted bark that doesn't match the bark directly above on the untreated portion--which will take years to grow out, which begs the question--what's wrong with just letting it AGE?...
 
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Attached is the reason for the question. This is a black pine. It looks very much like it was grafted. The host trunk has the bark starting to form and flake. The scion bark still looks juvenile. The trunk is ca. 3" in diameter. I was just wondering if there was a way to hurry the process along.
 

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JasonG

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Hey Mac,

Ya know RockM is right.....if you artificially try to "Make bark" it will always look man made and IMO will really detract from the tree.

What your pictures shows to me is that there will always be a visual difference in bark between the two. You see it in almost every grafted pine. The top part will bark up eventually but it will take time, and lots of time.

If it were my tree I wouldn't worry about it. I would be more focused on getting it out of that bad soil it is in and getting it into a larger box/pot/tub to let it grow out while it develops. Getting it into a tub with excellent free draining soil will make the tree very healthy and grow much better and faster thus helping the bark a bit.....but still takes time.

Don't worry about the bark......or you will be worrying for a long time, lol! :D

Seems like a descent tree, lets see the rest of it.

Jason
 
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Jason, That "bad soil" is 70% Turface and 30% pine bark mulch.

The tree is in a 16" square X 6" deep grow box with excellent drainage. The tree is very healthy and well cared for.

Photo attached.

I would welcome any input about the tree.
 

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JasonG

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Hey Mac,

In the picture with your hand the soil looked like the normal nursery crap that mugos come in. So it was hard to tell what exactly was going on there.... Sorry if I offended ya.

Do you have any thoughts or ideas of a direction you want to take the tree? From the one picture it is kinda hard to tell exactly what is going on but to me it seems that some prunning needs to happen:D
 

rockm

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Bark on bonsai pines is not a short term project. the flaky bark you see on them is the result of growing them in containers for decades. Bark is probably the last thing developed on a bonsai. It usually shows up on its own--unless you're working with older collected material.

Sorry to say this, but the best way to match scion and graft bark in a pine is to start with ungrafted material. Same for maples, or basically any other tree. You can do that, or look specifically for purpose "bonsai grafted" trees, that is where the graft is made very low on the trunk, or on the trunk crown. The lower the graft, the more area left for a harmonious trunk.

In selecting bonsai material, I always look at the first third of a tree. That's the heart of any bonsai. That portion cannot be easily changed. In larger material, it mostly cannot be changed.
 
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Jason, Several things going on.

First it was transfered from a black plastic nursery container in April.

If you look at the complete tree, the branch on the lower right is going to go at some point. I am leaving it now to encourage more trunk growth down low.

I have:

Added an approach graft on the second up left limb. This is to get some branching closer to the trunk there.

Added a thread graft to place a branch a little further up on the right side.

Added another approach graft on a limb further up on the right side, you may or may not see it in the photos.

Turned a branch up to make a new leader.
 

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