When to start work on mugos/JBPs

yamins

Yamadori
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Long Island, NY, USA
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Hi:

I have come into possession of some garden center mugos and JBPs that I'd like to train into bonsai. Attached are pictures of representative samples.

I (think) I have a general sense of how to do this (e.g. following Vance Wood's advice on Mugos and Brent Walston's on JBPs) and have been doing so with reasonable success with material started out a little further along than my new material.

For instance, with my JBP, I need to:
a) plant in large grow box or the ground to thicken the trunk, and
b) over time, reduce branches to a sacrifice leader and retained low branches, removing middle bushy foliage to allow light to the lower branches

In other words, I can't just let the tree grow totally unmodified for the next few years, the way I'd do with broad-leaf material.

But my question is: when should I start the process? What, if any, aspects of the training process should I start now, as opposed to waiting a few months, as opposed to in the Spring? Should I be doing the initial pruning and needle removal now? Later?


Thanks!
Dan
 

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sfhellwig

Mame
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Pittsburg, KS
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Right now isn't the time to do anything except put them under mild cover for the winter or put them in the ground. Pruning and wiring are typically done late winter when "dormant." For growing on but not losing shape you need to learn how to choose and snap candles. I am growing a mugo right now doing only this. Every Spring I evaluate how I want to guide it and what candles need reduced how much. I do it in two sessions. Following Vance's advice for the Mugo will lead you appropriately. There is a thread right now discussion JWP and has a comment about timing for JBP also. Since pines are a different sort I see this basic skill of candle control as my "stage 1." Bud selection is next but does little good if you don't super feed for heavy budding. More advanced still is bud/candle removal and needle removal. Each process is best done at a specific time of year and yields a different result and this is where species becomes very specific.

Next spring will be my third year to choose and reduce candles. I have not necessarily advanced the piece but I sure haven't done anything wrong.....yet.
 

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