Unknown Pine, need help

OJavali

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Hello everyone, I have had a Chinese Elm since 2013 and it is now 9 years old. It's a low maintenance tree that keeps it's round shape throughout it's life (at least with the way it was pruned), so my experience is kind of lacking. Ever since I bought that first bonsai, I have wanted to make my own so I can have a little tree that can accompany me through my life, like an undying pet. Keeping that in mind, this summer I entered a store and was surprised too see tiny pines in tiny vases. I immediately fell in love with one of those tiny plants and decided to bring it home. I have a relatively large pot for it, and I waited until Autumn in order to repot, since I might to root prune and wanted to be safe.
As such, I would like to know if this tree can possibly turn into a great bonsai, or if it's just not worth it. Also, I have no idea of the pine species nor how to prune it's needles. Really appreciate the help!

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IMG_20161002_124531.jpg IMG_20161002_124538.jpg IMG_20161002_124552.jpg
 

Potawatomi13

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Just about 90% sure this tree is a Spruce. Likely dwarf(?)Alberta Spruce which some on here feel strongly are no good for Bonsai. Others have made decent Bonsai of them so choice is yours. Be aware there are haters of certain trees on here so be prepared to make own choices. Please put personal location in profile for better help/advice and strongly suggest to join local Bonsai club if one is available;). If keeping either of these trees inside they need to be outside or will languish and die. And welcome to Bonsai craziness/affliction.
 

aml1014

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OJavali

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Thanks for all the answers guys! I really thought this was a pine, never would've even considered a spruce.

I agree, don't toss it if anyone says to, keep it for practice on wiring and pruning and general horticulture.
Here's one I recently did for the fall contest going on here .http://www.bonsainut.com/threads/fall-contest-2016-an-honest-balance.24716/#post-392256
Welcome to the nuthouse by the way!

Aaron
  1. I checked your post and tbh, that treatment scares me :p I can't imagine completely stripping out a tree! Either that or I just need to grow a pair, but I guess the real problem is not knowing where and how to begin with such a tree! Really hard to picture it after shaping. Meanwhile I've also added my location information, which I think is a 9 zone. Do you guys have any advice on how to simply begin? More pics to help identify the tree!
IMG_20161002_135115.jpg IMG_20161002_135226.jpg IMG_20161002_135311.jpg

EDIT:
Could the new pot be too large for now?
 
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aml1014

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Thanks for all the answers guys! I really thought this was a pine, never would've even considered a spruce.



  1. I checked your post and tbh, that treatment scares me :p I can't imagine completely stripping out a tree! Either that or I just need to grow a pair, but I guess the real problem is not knowing where and how to begin with such a tree! Really hard to picture it after shaping. Meanwhile I've also added my location information, which I think is a 9 zone. Do you guys have any advice on how to simply begin? More pics to help identify the tree!
View attachment 118685 View attachment 118686 View attachment 118687

EDIT:
Could the new pot be too large for now?
That treatment still scares my fiance, she always thinks their gonna die lol
Take your time styling this one, study the structure and figure out what you'd like from this tree. It takes awhile to be able to brutalize a tree like I did without a worry, but in the future you'll learn that you need to take them back to a basic structure to rebuild your vision of the tree.
Also the pot doesn't look to big, its a good growing container for the tree as you train it, only once your vision is reached should it go to a true Bonsai pot.
Aaron
 

Cypress187

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I have the same, or it that mine? It looks very similar, ill have to check, this morning it was still there. Welcome to the forum!
 

OJavali

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Thanks for the welcomes!

That treatment still scares my fiance, she always thinks their gonna die lol
Take your time styling this one, study the structure and figure out what you'd like from this tree. It takes awhile to be able to brutalize a tree like I did without a worry, but in the future you'll learn that you need to take them back to a basic structure to rebuild your vision of the tree.
Also the pot doesn't look to big, its a good growing container for the tree as you train it, only once your vision is reached should it go to a true Bonsai pot.
Aaron
I actually meant the bonsai pot that is included in the pics. Or do you think I should maim the tree, and give it a good year to recover?
Guess I'm gonna have to google spruce bonsai so I can get some ideas. Unfortunately my imagination can't go very far when considering styling plants.
Also, if you guys have any ideas/pointers that you can suggest, I'm more than willing to take them into account :D
PS. This is my first homemade bonsai, so do you think this tree could be too hard?
 

aml1014

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That's good to know then. Should I start working on it now, and repot it next year?
You can work on it if you'd like, now is a good time to work on spruce. Just be sure you know where your going to take it before you cut anything, you can't put it back on.
Repot in spring as the buds swell.

Aaron
 

OJavali

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You can work on it if you'd like, now is a good time to work on spruce. Just be sure you know where your going to take it before you cut anything, you can't put it back on.
Repot in spring as the buds swell.

Aaron
This tree in particular is quite strange in the way it's trunk just divides into several branches at it's end. What do people usually do in these cases? I don't think I have a main shoot, and if I do, there's 2 of them. In that case should I try and keep those, cut them, maybe cut most of the others and keep those too? I'm sorry for asking so many questions, but in a normal looking tree I can kind of see how one can progress, but all those top branches confuse me. It reminds me of maritime pines, which I see a lot here in Portugal, and honestly it's what I thought it'd be.
 

aml1014

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This tree in particular is quite strange in the way it's trunk just divides into several branches at it's end. What do people usually do in these cases? I don't think I have a main shoot, and if I do, there's 2 of them. In that case should I try and keep those, cut them, maybe cut most of the others and keep those too? I'm sorry for asking so many questions, but in a normal looking tree I can kind of see how one can progress, but all those top branches confuse me. It reminds me of maritime pines, which I see a lot here in Portugal, and honestly it's what I thought it'd be.
Here's one I did yesterday, it had 3 main trunks but I removed 2 of them to make a formal upright. The two jins at the bottom were the other trunks.20161003_190613.jpg
Sorry about the bad picture, it's already getting dark :mad::mad::mad:

Aaron
 

OJavali

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Here's one I did yesterday, it had 3 main trunks but I removed 2 of them to make a formal upright. The two jins at the bottom were the other trunks.View attachment 118957
Sorry about the bad picture, it's already getting dark :mad::mad::mad:

Aaron
Thanks for all the help so far! Without trying to push my luck here... I really like the shape of the pine bellow, and since the spruce has a similar type of trunk ending I'd like to try and reach something like this. Since the spruce has needles growing over every branch, could I go about and remove ALL needles on the main branches and leave only the needles on secondary/lateral branches which are the newer growth (and eventually remove some branches I find excessive)? How should I approach the two longest shoots? Can I just cut off the tip to make them the same size as the rest? Thanks for the help, once again!

Edit:
I wonder about this because I believe my tree to be much younger than the one you posted, and the trunk is not half as thick, it seems.
Also, don't hesitate to refer me to another section that could be better suited for my questions. Just a newbie with a strong will to learn the art :D
 

M. Frary

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, could I go about and remove ALL needles on the main branches
No. These needles are the places new branches can be grown from. By cutting it back at the right time of year you can force it to push buds farther back towards the trunk.
If you look at aml1014s tree the branches he left have needles all the way back to the trunk. Once it recovers he is probably going to cut shoots back so it will push buds in closers to the trunk for secondary branching. If he pulls the needles out he can kill the dormant bud eliminating the possibility of growing secondaries to almost nothing.
 

OJavali

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No. These needles are the places new branches can be grown from. By cutting it back at the right time of year you can force it to push buds farther back towards the trunk.
If you look at aml1014s tree the branches he left have needles all the way back to the trunk. Once it recovers he is probably going to cut shoots back so it will push buds in closers to the trunk for secondary branching. If he pulls the needles out he can kill the dormant bud eliminating the possibility of growing secondaries to almost nothing.
So let me get this straight... I can and probably should remove some of the main branches, but NOT remove any needles throughout the tree. My problem here is that the 2 main shoots aren't really trunks and are covered in leaves. Is there any rule for branch cutting?
 

aml1014

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So let me get this straight... I can and probably should remove some of the main branches, but NOT remove any needles throughout the tree. My problem here is that the 2 main shoots aren't really trunks and are covered in leaves. Is there any rule for branch cutting?
You can prune branches but leave the needles on your remaining branches alone.
The general rule for conifers is about 1/3 of the foliage at a time. I removed much more then that but I have very good aftercare, don't remove so much if you aren't confident.

Aaron
 

OJavali

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You can prune branches but leave the needles on your remaining branches alone.
The general rule for conifers is about 1/3 of the foliage at a time. I removed much more then that but I have very good aftercare, don't remove so much if you aren't confident.

Aaron
View media item 2950
Okay, let's imagine that I want to prune this branch. The places I marked with black circles should be the ones I stay away from because they will grow more branches, right? If I wanted to cut it's length where could I do it? By the last post, you mean I should not remove needles in any part of the branch? Thanks for the help, and sorry for all these questions, but I don't have a bonsai club or master available to me -_-
 
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