What I Have Learned From Pitch Pine So Far

Tidal Bonsai

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I decided to make this post a separate thread, so it will be easier to find in a search. This may be long, but I think it will help a lot of people with this species that I have developed a special relationship with.

I have been working with pitch pine here in coastal NJ (7A) for the past 4 seasons. Previously, I had advocated for treating them the way that Ryan Neil does, but over time I have seen some issues with this particular species. For those who do not know, Ryan Neil advocates fertilizing pines heavily with nitrogen in the early spring, and withholding nitrogen fertilizer a month before decandling to get small needles and small internodes. For three years, I saw vigorous spring growth at the tips followed by less than desired development in the fall. After decandling this way for three seasons, year after year I saw that there was increasingly less backbudding, and only one bud at the end of each tip come fall. Last year especially, the needles looked skinny, light in color, and frail. I decided to give my pitch pines a year off after seeing this. You can kind of see what I’m talking about here.
F71E7DEA-CF14-4989-B618-26DD2E94532D.jpeg A3CAC121-F59F-4DDE-9515-7A492DBD55C0.jpeg

This past season, I changed my strategy because one tree was getting re-potted and the other was getting a massive overhaulI. I treated them similar to Japanese white pine where they cut extending candles to a similar size, cut out overly strong buds in whorls of 3+, and withheld fertilizer until the late summer/fall. I noticed a longer needle size, but a vastly increased vigor, darker green needle color, more back budding and multiple buds as the tips.

You can see the difference from the pictures below.
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The first tree was before It was restyled, pictures will be posted after the apex develops more this season. It is a vast improvement, but it needs one more season before a closeup 😂

I kind of ate my words on previous posts, but this is where I am at currently. I am probably going to experiment with decandling the way that some local hobbyists, and I believe Jonas D. follows where you lightly apply fertilizer after decandling since I feel like that will give me the results I am after. My continued learning will be posted in my pitch pine threads, this is an amazing native that I really like working with!
 

Wires_Guy_wires

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Because I'm naturally skeptical: can some of these 'bad health' events be related to them being in a pot for so little time?
I'm planning on fertilizing the crap out of mine, they're just seedlings. But basically you're saying that you're withholding fertilizer the entire year until late summer or fall?
 

yashu

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What are you guys using for fertilizer and regimen? My collected trees have only had a few shakes of Osmacote a few weeks after collection. I plan on going with biogold every four weeks once they start perking up for spring. Most of my other trees are on that schedule anyway. Also, what did you use as a collecting medium? I decided to try DE and pine mulch at a 1:1 mix. I have used this as a potting mix for nursery stock pines (Mugo, Bristlecone, JWP) and some collected white pines with decent success. The pine mulch from the local supply store is nicely composted and already has huge mycorrhizae colonies.

I appreciate any experience with these trees even though situations vary with latitude. As I was saying on the other thread, it’s been hard to find any information on pitch pine aside from anecdotal accounts. It surprises me that this native species isn’t used more often. They are very cool trees IMO and hold tons of potential.

*edit spelling/grammar
 

Tidal Bonsai

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Because I'm naturally skeptical: can some of these 'bad health' events be related to them being in a pot for so little time?
I'm planning on fertilizing the crap out of mine, they're just seedlings. But basically you're saying that you're withholding fertilizer the entire year until late summer or fall?
You can take the information above anyway you like, just reporting my personal findings. If you have seedlings, you should go crazy with fertilizer.

Tree one hasn’t been repotted in around three seasons, but it still drains well so it will be left alone for now. It just received heavy styling work, so the roots won’t be worked for another season. Tree two was just put in a pot from a colander this season.

It isn’t that they are in “bad health” but they seem to get weaker and weaker growth following decandling and withholding fertilizer. Before decandling these trees were pushing six inch extensions!!!

E7B14AA4-E5DC-4B75-9373-2188067C3093.jpeg

My plan for this season is:

Since tree one just got heavy work, it most likely won’t be decandled this season. I will give it light fertilizer all season and leave it alone.

Tree two will not be fertilized in the spring, after decandling it will receive light fertilizer until winter. I will see how this works out!
 
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Tidal Bonsai

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What are you guys using for fertilizer and regimen? My collected trees have only had a few shakes of Osmacote a few weeks after collection. I plan on going with biogold every four weeks once they start perking up for spring. Most of my other trees are on that schedule anyway. Also, what did you use as a collecting medium? I decided to try DE and pine mulch at a 1:1 mix. I have used this as a potting mix for nursery stock pines (Mugo, Bristlecone, JWP) and some collected white pines with decent success. The pine mulch from the local supply store is nicely composted and already has huge mycorrhizae colonies.

I appreciate any experience with these trees even though situations vary with latitude. As I was saying on the other thread, it’s been hard to find any information on pitch pine aside from anecdotal accounts. It surprises me that this native species isn’t used more often. They are very cool trees IMO and hold tons of potential.

*edit spelling/grammar
Japanese cakes are great, I just do not use them anymore because I can’t find a way to keep the squirrels from taking them here. 😂

I like cottonseed meal, blood meal and fish fertilizer for my pines. I fertilize trees in development heavier, and go lighter as they get more refined. Use what you like, I have no stock in these products, lol!
 

Shogun610

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Nice so alittle correction when I spoke on this before. On pitch pine during development in my garden collection I treat like double flush Japanese black pine. At the studio … we treat collected pitch pines in development like Japanese black pines… on super refined Pitch Pines.. we treat like Japanese white pine.. probably could treat like Japanese black pine double flush techniques but we aren’t ready to test that out. All treated like double flush below..
and to add a Short Leaf pine (last 2 pics) that is treated like double flush … before and after my “accident took in new direction… just popped w buds for new future design and better.
 

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Shogun610

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Pitch Pines treated like single flush but testing double flush techniques this summer.
 

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yashu

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Here is one of my collected pitch pines from last season. I finally got around to taking some pictures of it. Considering it’s still substantial vigor I’d say that the lesson I got from this one was to try to take ALL the roots. I explain in the post how I was able to just lift the root mass off the rock it was on. The difference between others that I had to do some root cutting to free them is very noticeable. More chlorosis, less or no buds the first year or two, branch die off, etc.

Thread 'Collected Maine Pitch Pine'
https://www.bonsainut.com/threads/collected-maine-pitch-pine.54307/
 

Gabler

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Pitch Pines treated like single flush but testing double flush techniques this summer.

That’s what confused me. I have little experience with pines, but my impression was that decandling would weaken the tree, since the goal is to arrest growth. Wouldn’t decandling every year without breaks do more harm than limiting fertilizer for a couple months?
 

Shogun610

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That’s what confused me. I have little experience with pines, but my impression was that decandling would weaken the tree, since the goal is to arrest growth. Wouldn’t decandling every year without breaks do more harm than limiting fertilizer for a couple months?
Yes and no .. the double flush technique is always fertilizer heavy leading up to cutting the candles off , THEN it also works by balancing energy by leaving on only certain number of needle pairs … but that’s only once the pine reaches a certain stage of development. Like you’re not gonna do that technique on a seedling rather you’d do that on a more developed tree.
 

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