Slow growing Rocky Mountain Bristlecone Pine (pinus aristata)

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Hey all,

About a year and a half ago my wife bought me a Bonsai starter kit including this Rocky Mountain Bristlecone Pine (pinus aristata). All of my trees have been growing quite nicely during that time except for this one. (See pic attached)

We live in an apartment in New York City and I water the trees quite regularly. I’m using Tiny roots’ All-Purpose Blend soil and giving the pine as much light as I can. (We have a westward facing window)

I know pine trees are slow growers but after a year and a half I’d expect the tree to have grown more than it has.

Any advice on helping my pine to grow bigger and stronger than it has?
 

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Dav4

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Hey all,

About a year and a half ago my wife bought me a Bonsai starter kit including this Rocky Mountain Bristlecone Pine (pinus aristata). All of my trees have been growing quite nicely during that time except for this one. (See pic attached)

We live in an apartment in New York City and I water the trees quite regularly. I’m using Tiny roots’ All-Purpose Blend soil and giving the pine as much light as I can. (We have a westward facing window)

I know pine trees are slow growers but after a year and a half I’d expect the tree to have grown more than it has.

Any advice on helping my pine to grow bigger and stronger than it has?
There isn’t a pine on the planet that will tolerate growing indoors, and bristlecone pines are difficult to maintain in pot culture under the best conditions. It’s a high altitude, Alpine pine species that needs a significant winter dormancy as part of its annual cycle. If you can’t get this one to live outside year-round, it’s unlikely to survive another year.
 

Wires_Guy_wires

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For an indoor pine it looks pretty OK.
Bristlecones by default, are some of the slowest growing pines in the world.
I have some longaeva, and they gain a centimeter a year outdoors.
My scots pines are my personal record holders with one foot in a single year.
JRP comes in second with 20cm.
 

HorseloverFat

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Bristlecones are some of the slowest growing pines in the world.
My first thought, also when reading the title.. and in my head I was thinking, “Yeah.. it’s probably juuuust fine”. :)

Just get it outdoors when you are able to... if It were ME.. i’d try to slowly acclimate them to unheated garage temperatures.. (if available)... if it’s not available, And it’s cold by you... I would spend 2 hours at a time, increasing that increment 1:1 each day, holding at 5-6 hours (if above 20), during high sun... once I was fairly sure they had become accustomed to THAT... (If they were able to survive my climate) I’d dig holes to the rim, and mulch/snow(Depending) them in real nice-like.

Any temperate species (requiring dormancy) can NOT be “tricked” into “constant growing season” for very long t’all... start hitting zone 7/8 (ish?) you’ll find some SEMI-deciduous as THESE are the zones that dormancy starts becoming a SUGGESTION instead of IMPULSION for certain species.. you go higher through 9/10 ... and REAL dormancy, as those of us even slightly colder.. doesn’t truly exist (In the same shape one is used to).

Truth be told.. YOUR location DOES matter... I can’t grow ALL the species I’d like to.. simply because of my climate..

There DO exist CERTAIN species (NON-TEMPERATE!) that TOLERATE... not “prefer” or overly “enjoy”... but TOLERATE their “winters” indoors... these are ofyen (not always) trees/plants that can withstand “shadier winters”.... cause Natural Light replication almost always falls short of “full sun”.

Some species to look into for this..

Ficus
Punica Granatum
Serissa Japonica
Bougainvillea
Camellia.. most of ‘em.
Citrus (tough to get established, for me, when STARTING indoors.. but after they are strong.. they can handle indoor “wintering” go for Kumquat.. but make sure your seeds are FRESH ;) )
Callistemon are sweet!
Olives.. any Olea
Gardenia
Rosemary/Thyme
Begonia Dregeii (sp) (I’ll get HELL for listing that 🤪)
And Portulacaria... or Jade plants..
Pachira Aquatica
Myrtles.
Ooooh Guava
Brush Cherry
Podocarpus
Ivys
Natal Plum

All these, I’m aware, will tolerate indoor conditions for their “winter”...

But IF it’s a temperate species, cannot be wintered and exceeds your “zone” By 1(ish). (Noting that ones that DO exceed by 1.. need SPECIAL, DELIBERATE care, come transition/cold months, so 3/4 of year-special care.) You can probably not realistically keep those trees alive for too long.
 

Bonsai Nut

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I give you huge props for getting it to germinate indoors! However, it will die if kept indoors... not just because it is a pine tree, but because it is a mountain pine that needs a cold dormant period each winter.

I love P. aristata; it is one of my favorite pines. Short needles, prolific back-buds, dwarf growth habit. However I tried them several times in Southern California and couldn't keep them alive more than two years, because I couldn't give them enough cold. First year they would look great, second year they would weaken, and then they would just die :(
 
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Thank you all for your replies. Not sure exactly what I'm going to do with regards to the pine but I appreciate all of your insights and suggestions.
 

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