What did I do to my Ponderosa Pine?!?

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Ok, so I sort of know the answer. I fertilized it heavily, and, in turn, it produced super long needles over the past month-ish. What, if anything, should I do to prepare it for next spring? The tree was collected last year. I have merely watered/fed it this year. Next year, I plan to perform a re-pot and continue to grow its structure. I have no experience with pines (relatively new to bonsai), so basic maintenance like plucking needles or clipping buds is all new to me.

Should I perform any "surgery" on the tree prior to winter? Should I remove any of the old needles? Should I cut back some of the new growth?

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Colorado

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No, you don’t need to do any of that, because the tree is still in development. The 3rd year needles will fall off soon, so you can pluck them if you want, but you don’t need to.

You don’t need to prune, especially since you are going to repot in the spring. (Although this would be a good time to do it, if you were going to prune). Whether you prune or not really depends on your design for the tree.

Once the tree gets some back buds to spread out it’s energy, you can start transitioning to refinement and needle reduction by fertilizing only in fall once that years needles have hardened off (and therefore stopped elongating).

You also need to confine a Ponderosas roots with a small container if you want to achieve the shortest needles possible. But it is a multi-year process to get short needles.
 
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Once the tree gets some back buds to spread out it’s energy, you can start transitioning to refinement and needle reduction by fertilizing only in fall once that years needles have hardened off (and therefore stopped elongating).

Thanks so much for your advice. Am I right to think that pruning now will encourage a distribution of energy that will result in more backbudding and interior growth? Why not prune now? Is it simply the planned re-pot that discourages any pruning?
 

Wires_Guy_wires

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Am I right to think that pruning now will encourage a distribution of energy that will result in more backbudding and interior growth?
You are right to think that, however, you're not sure yet what this tree does with zero pruning. It could very well bud on its own without any pruning.
You want those stronger shoots to fuel the tree next spring, that's why pruning so shortly after collection isn't recommended.
 

NorthTXacer

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Do NOT prune. Do NOT remove any needles that are green. Do NOT repot unless soil does not drain. Fertilize all year including winter.
Continue the above for several years. Any pruning will set you back. You have good bones, just needs back budding for now.
 
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Waldo

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You should order a copy of Larry Jackel's book "Ponderosa Pines as Bonsai". A wealth of info. from a guy that has been working with them a long time. I think you should be thinking of your initial design for the tree.
Although you will find Ponderosa trunk and branches more flexible than most pines you might start wiring to your initial design. Your tree appears to be health. Long needles and all. As indicated earlier, you can deal with shortening needles late. Right now you need to plan for more ramification. And Larry would have you do that later this month. By removing the new cinnamon colored tips, cut at a diagonal, this removes a hormone called
oxin. Oxin will prevent back budding on those branches. You also would remove most of the top needle and bottom needles from all branches Leaving groups on side branches to, Hopefully, produce back buds.
But I would strongly recommend getting Larrys book before you do much more. They are similar but different than other pines. Ponderosa's are a single flush pine. Best of luck keep us posted with it's progress.
 

Potawatomi13

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You should order a copy of Larry Jackel's book "Ponderosa Pines as Bonsai". A wealth of info. from a guy that has been working with them a long time. I think you should be thinking of your initial design for the tree.
Although you will find Ponderosa trunk and branches more flexible than most pines you might start wiring to your initial design. Your tree appears to be health. Long needles and all. As indicated earlier, you can deal with shortening needles late. Right now you need to plan for more ramification. And Larry would have you do that later this month. By removing the new cinnamon colored tips, cut at a diagonal, this removes a hormone called
oxin. Oxin will prevent back budding on those branches. You also would remove most of the top needle and bottom needles from all branches Leaving groups on side branches to, Hopefully, produce back buds.
But I would strongly recommend getting Larrys book before you do much more. They are similar but different than other pines. Ponderosa's are a single flush pine. Best of luck keep us posted with it's progress.

Not actually the best and not even very good at all sorry to say. Larry even says his technique only works well once every several years as it weakens trees too much. I got that book before meeting Ryan. Ryan Neil is THE Ponderosa guy. Greatest wisdom please to subscribe to Mirai Live and watch all Ponderosa Live Streams in archive. He strongly disagrees with Larry and have personally seen his wisdom on 11 Yamadori Ponderosas in my care as well as many at his Bonsai Mirai garden. Most wonderful, easy trees to work with IF done by Ryans advice. All needles on branches being kept needed as solar panels/energy feeders for roots. Also traffic of sap fed to needles encourages back budding. Removing needles VERY bad idea. This time of year personally will prune/remove crowding, shading or badly placed branches or buds. This is all for health of remaining useful ones. Any time doing this think years ahead: what can this become, how can I use this😕?
 

Waldo

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I have the highest regard for Ryans talent and ability to convey it , Potowatomi. But if you have carefully watched and listened to Ryan's videos on Black pines. He is saying basically, the same thing as Larry. You need to remove those buds or all you will get is more branch growth. He also talks about removing the Oxin to allow back budding. He also talks about removing upper and lower needles to avoid wasting energy on back budding where you don't need or want them. I realize that JBPs are double flush but the procedure is very similar. Larry's book also gives accounts from several PP growers from different zones, climates, and altitudes. They all share what is working for them. Walter Pall, who's perspective is presented in Larry's book, gives some very good insight as to what is working for him. And I would encourage "One first matter all" to read and watch as much info. on PP as as can be found. I would encourage looking at the info. presented on "Colorado Rocky Mountain Bonsai" web-site. A wealth of information presented there from many Prominent Bonsai curators.
 

sorce

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So....since you're not repotting anymore....

You can remove some tips?

Doesn't seem you need to though.

Nice shape.

Sorce
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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@One First Matter All
As you can see there is conflicting advice for how to handle Ponderosa pines. I've been growing Ponderosa for over 20 years, and have killed my share of them.

First - keep in mind, the tree you have is not a seedling. From the looks of it, it is probably over 50 years old, might be 75 years old, and could be as much as 125, depending on where it was collected. That is not a young tree. Old trees like this do not "bounce back" from things in a single season.

IF you have only had it a year or two, you need to go slow. Just continue to grow it and feed it. Put away the pruners.

If you are going to repot, no pruning the season before and for at least one growing season after. You need all the buds intact to generate the hormones needed to get the roots to respond to repotting. When you repot, take the care necessary to position the tree correctly and to use a good quality potting media, so that you do not have to repot again for at least 5 to 10 years. Older Ponderosa should not be repotted more than once a decade if possible. So take your time, plan the new position for the tree, and get it right, because it will be a while before you repot again. Now we all know stuff happens, but repotting older Ponderosa more than once every 5 years is risky.

Wire your tree every year. Wire may be left on for many years if it does not bite in, but each year adjust and or re-wire to get it to shape.

Pruning - only remove branches clearly not useful for future design. Downward pointing or other "out of bounds" branches. NEVER routinely take off growing buds to force backbudding. Removing buds will weaken tree and not give you the backbuds you hope for.

Fertilizing, allowing the tree to grow, will naturally cause back buds to sprout. So let the tree grow if you want back buds.

A back bud will be strong enough to take over as a branch, usually by end of its third year. So basically you can prune back to interior back buds maybe once every 3 to 5 years, making sure that the apical, or terminal bud is at least 3 or more full seasons old. Pruning to a tiny, weak bud will simply result in the death of the whole branch.

This means in general, we don't prune ponderosa, we just let them grow. If you plan on pruning only once every 5 years, you will be less likely to kill the tree.

I'm conservative, but I have not lost any 100 year old Ponderosa lately. There are others that will tell you to prune more aggressively, more often. But check to see how their trees did afterwards. Being conservative will not hurt your tree.
 
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@One First Matter All

First - keep in mind, the tree you have is not a seedling. From the looks of it, it is probably over 50 years old, might be 75 years old, and could be as much as 125, depending on where it was collected. That is not a young tree. Old trees like this do not "bounce back" from things in a single season.

Thanks, @Leo in N E Illinois ! I appreciate the detailed advice.
 

Potawatomi13

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on Black pines.

Completely different trees!

I have the highest regard for Ryans talent and ability to convey it

If so looks like not paying attention to difference in trees. Ryan makes several points of difference in training Ponderosa, JBP. He is completely correct.

Need is great to see his trees and talk to him to fully appreciate his knowledge. Really Amazing to see.
 
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