The worst black pine ever!

Bonsai Nut

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I have posted some photos of one of my black pines in the galleries. In a nutshell, this pine is a disaster. The only reason I own it is (a) I am a glutton for punishment, and (b) the price was right. The pine is this tall gangly thing with tons of bar branches, wiring scars, reverse taper, etc. The only thing is has going for it is an interesting trunk and the possibility of air-layering it into two sections that might work.



Cut me BonsaiNut!



Possible remaining top:



Possible remaining bottom:



Note: Artist's impression only. No black pines were hurt in the creation of these composite photos!
 

bonsai barry

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Hi. This is my first post to this forum.

I like the top half. Do you have much experience air layering pines? If so, what is your success rate and what is your secret?
 

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Hi Barry! :) I have been busy with the holidays so haven't been posting as much lately.

Yes, you can airlayer Black Pines but they are NOT as easy as deciduous trees. Same rules pretty much apply (I assume you know general air-layering technique):

1) Start with a really robust tree that is growing aggressively.
2) Start your layer in the Spring when you start to see buds swelling (before candles pop).
3) Make your two cuts about an inch apart and strip the bark. Make sure the top cut is REALLY clean (i.e. use razor blade or sharp grafting knife).
4) Swab the top cut with rooting hormone that has been been mixed to form a paste.
5) Apply a wire tourniquet slightly beneath the top cut (almost touching it) - this is very important for pines because otherwise the pine will heal over the cut.
6) Soak a bunch of long-leafed moss in Vitamin B-1 solution.
7) Pack long-leafed moss around the cut - both above and below it.
8) Wrap the moss with clear polyethylene plastic wrap and tie tightly at the bottom and loosely at the top.
9) Moss should stay moist but NOT soaking wet.
10) Sunlight is VERY important - make sure the rooting area gets plenty of sun without drying out.
11) You will see fine white roots in 4-6 months.
12) Wait for them to turn darker (reddish brown).
13) When you have a nice rootball (perhaps as long as one year) remove the plastic wrap and moss and replace with a pot with pine growing medium (akadama, or whatever). You want it to look like a pot on your tree :) Let the roots grow freely in the pot for one season.
14) When repotting time comes, carefully check condition of roots in pot. If roots are adequate, cut the air-layer off, remove the old pot and place the tree in a new larger growing pot. DO NOT REMOVE OLD SOIL AT THIS TIME - move all old soil into new pot and place new soil around it.
15) In one year everything should look good and be well-established :)
 

Shrimpaku

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So you are saying three years? One year with moss, one year with pot on tree, one year in grow-out pot?
 

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So you are saying three years? One year with moss, one year with pot on tree, one year in grow-out pot?
More or less. The third year is really just growing the layer out in a pot without raking out the roots (yet). It all depends on the tree. After roots start to appear in the moss, I use REALLY diluted Miracle-Gro (like 1/10th strength) when I water the moss and I feel that helps strengthen the roots early.
 

JasonG

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I think if you can airlayer the top it would make a nice little shohin. Good luck with that and keep us posted on the progress...

As for the bottom 1/2 of the tree... that is a tough one. I probably would put it in the ground and let it develop a bit more and start training branches while letting a sacrafice branch grow straight up. I would let it go for a few years feeding it like crazy so it will back bud on the trunk which shouldn't be a problem.

I will look at this some more and see what I can come up with if anything.... EDIT... I gave a quick ms paint try at this. The solid red line is your propsed layer. I circled the lower branch in red then drew where I see it going. Trunk line is in yellow and then in blu if the branch on the right that will become the new leader. I hope it doesn't look like a 4 year old drew this.... :) Anyways this is 1 idea that could work.

Good Luck!

Jason
 

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Bonsai Nut

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I hope it doesn't look like a 4 year old drew this.... :)
4 year olds don't have access to MS Paint :)

I have half a mind to just stick this ugly thing in the ground by my koi pond and turn it into a landscape plant. But a pine airlayer is always a fun exercise - you never know what you're going to get :)
 

Graydon

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I hate to break it to you but that is not the worst black pine ever. Just look on eBay. Or the Brussels Bonsai site or many other places. You have potential as a layer if you choose to go down that path.

I have attached a few shots of my ugly pine and I have you beaten hands down. I have worse but you don't want to see those, trust me.

The attached pine is a "yoshimura" with a terrible graft. Too tall a graft to be of use. I have been harvesting scion stock from it as I gave up on this tree the day it came in. After a while of contemplation I decided to try and get a layer from it. If it does not work no loss. If it does work I get an nice start with low branches and cork on the roots. Either way I plan on potting it in a big clay pot and growing it out for scions.

Of interest may be the layering procedure I am using. Somewhat typical to normal procedure but :

1. Skip the moss - it's really not the best thing to use and it's dangerous to you. I am using kanuma but akadama, pumice or lava would do just as well. Moss will hold too much water, coarse bonsai soil will hold just the right amount but you will need to keep an eye on it.

2. Use a pot and skip the plastic routine. This pot is a rooter pot (www.rooterpot.com) but you could use any small plastic pot cut apart and wired back around the tree. I would put a lid on the pot to keep evaporation to a minimum.

3. Apply a wire tourniquet before you cut anything (6 months to 1 year before you want to layer). Use a 4mm to 5mm wire and get it as tight as you can. Do not do anything yet, wait until you see it bulge above the wire. It will begin to bleed sap as the wire does the cutting for you. When the sap is weeping all the way around the wire in the spring apply the hormone as you like. You need a strong hormone, I used Hormex #8 (IBA 0.8%) as anything less is not strong enough to induce roots on old pine wood.

There is some debate as to the need to cut a ring of bark on pines. I don't have an answer, I only have what I have read in books and old Bonsai Today. In those examples no ring was cut - it was a wire and hormone technique. I would travel to Japan just to learn how this has been done there in bonsai culture, as well as how they root JBP cuttings.

I will be checking my layer again this spring to see how it is doing, I'll keep you posted and let you know if this worked or not.
 

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With black pines, the wire method is safer, but slower (1 to 2 years). The peel bark method is more dangerous, but yields much faster results (6 months - 1 year). If you look in Bonsai Today #33 they show a large black pine that was layered using the peeled park method. I use this method on small pines and have not had a problem with it. Probably with a large pine that I was concerned about losing, I would use wire.

Where do you get your growth hormone and the pots? I always hand-make mine - the rooter pots look nice.
 

Graydon

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Where do you get your growth hormone and the pots? I always hand-make mine - the rooter pots look nice.
I can't remember where I got the Hormex. It was a box of all three concentrations. Do a google search for Hormex #8 or check a real garden center (not home depot).

I thought the rooter pots could be ordered from their website (www.rooterpot.com) but I guess not. I got mine from Lee Valley (www.leevalley.com/garden) - look under propagation.

I'm too chicken to cut a bark ring on a pine of substantial size but I may have a sucker or candidate this spring. We'll see...
 

Bonsai Nut

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Wow just a quick check on google for rooter pots gives quite a range of prices. For the large ones I have gotten prices as high as $7.95 each - to as low of $3.75 each. Don't online retailers know people do searches for good prices? Ended up buying from www.wardsci.com.
 

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BTW Graydon - if you can't find Hormex #8 look for Hormodin #3 - it has the exact same active ingredient (indole-3-butyric acid .8%) and you can buy it in half-pound containers so you don't have to go with the big 1 lb Hormex container.
 

RyanFrye

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Hi Greg,

Do you have an update on this pine?
 

JasonG

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Wow, it is amazing how one progress' in 3 years time! I look back at what I proposed and am a bit embarrassed with it!!!

The past few years has proven to be fruitful with this reminder.

Greg, what say you?? :)

Jason
 

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