Young grafted black pine.

Freshman100

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I have this poorly grafted black pine which is a long term project, 35cm in height so far. It's healthy, growing strong. My question is what to do next, some guidence in the right direction would be nice. The trunk obviously needs to be thicker, I want it taller with More branches, should I leave the candles this year and just let it grow out. As you can see I have 4 candles at the top one lower down. Then this poor graft. What direction do i take to send it down the road to become an okay bonsai.
 

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Shibui

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The answers are complex and there are many ways to take this tree through to being better bonsai.
The graft is not too bad. A little higher than I like but it may still blend in as the tree grows. For now, just trim off the small dead stub of rootstock. If the graft does expand or become ugly you can probably layer the tree closer to the graft to hide it.

You have already recognised that the tree needs to thicken. The quickest way to do that is to let it grow - a lot and it won't be able to do that in a little bonsai pot. Consider transplanting to the garden or a larger grow pot. You may be able to slip pot without too much disturbance to the roots at any time of year or wait for a better repot time of year and do a full root prune to establish better root system for the future.
Fortunately you have a single lower shoot. That one is likely to become the main trunk of your tree in future. All the rest will be sacrifice trunk and be cut off when the trunk has thickened. I think that lower shoot will be low enough to work but that will depend a lot on how large you intend this bonsai to be.
Removing candles is a technique to develop ramification and to maintain compact foliage on established pines. Not used on developing trees, especially very immature like this. Leave all the growth to help grow the tree.

I see 10-20 years of growth and development in this tree before it will be ready to be called real bonsai but maybe someone else has some techniques to add value in a shorter time?
 

River's Edge

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I have this poorly grafted black pine which is a long term project, 35cm in height so far. It's healthy, growing strong. My question is what to do next, some guidence in the right direction would be nice. The trunk obviously needs to be thicker, I want it taller with More branches, should I leave the candles this year and just let it grow out. As you can see I have 4 candles at the top one lower down. Then this poor graft. What direction do i take to send it down the road to become an okay bonsai.
JBP is very vigorous and the top will likely outgrow the bottom leaving reverse taper. Do you know what type of pine the rootstock is?
 

Freshman100

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Unfortunately Im not sure about rootstock, I didn't pay much for it, advertised as pinus thunbergii. It was grafted by a large nursery in the UK.. Was wondering if to control reverse taper maybe remove one or two candles, but maybe growth is more important to get a thicker trunk.
 
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River's Edge

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Unfortunately Im not sure about rootstock, I didn't pay much for it, advertised as pinus thunbergii. It was grafted by a large nursery in the UK.. Was wondering if to control reverse taper maybe remove one or two candles, but maybe growth is more important to get a thicker trunk.
Unless the rootstock is similar in growth pattern as the JBP the trunk portion below the graft will grow at a different rate. I would contact the seller and find out why it was grafted. It may be that the rootstock is more suitable for your climate, or it may simply have been a faster method of propogation for the grower.
If your climate is suitable or you have suitable winter protection then i would consider an airlayer to get the tree on its own roots! Much easier to do with younger stock than after the trunk gets larger and older.
 

0soyoung

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It is totally inconceivable to me why one would graft a generic JPB. But, IMHO, one needs to think about how they are going to disguise, if not eliminate, the graft. With JWP one has little choice, as a very few cultivars will even root, so the game is inherently one of disguising the graft union. IOW, there are potentially valuable lessons/experiences to be had with this tree.

I've air layered JBP 'Thunderhead' to eliminate a graft - it took 3 years to accomplish and it was possible only because my tree had foliage below the layering point that kept the roots alive. A couple of years from now you could layer "last year's candle" @Freshman100, but it isn't the same game as layering a japanese maple. So, the main thing to be gained from this tree is learning how to cope with a grafted specimen.

Several possible strategies that cross my mind are as follows. Any one might do, as would combinations
  • bury the union which would = no nebari
    • have the trunk emerge from the ground at a shallow angle = who cares that there is no nebari? If so, it should be repotted appropriately by next spring.
    • maybe it will spontaneously ground layer, regardless of the planting angle.
  • bend the trunk so that it (or foliage it will carry) will obscure visibility of the union
    • if bending, it had better be done soon, while it is still possible
    • if it is going to be foliage that obscures it, keep this in mind so that there is a branch 'down there'.
  • damage/scar the region of the union so that the resultant damage (maybe a shari) is all that is seen
    • one wouldn't want to do this until later in development; hence, this is always available as a last resort = if all else fails.
  • make it an exposed root composition
    • focus will be on the exposed roots
  • graft union can be hidden by the trunk trajectory (with or w/o exposed roots)
    • out of view - analogous to hiding pruning scars in back.
    • inside the foliage canopy
I editorialize in conclusion, noting that I think obfuscation with foliage is may be the easiest general strategy. Hence I do not subscribe to the 'must-be-low-graft' mantra and have a general preference for high grafts, ones just below the first branches. With corkers though, the whole point is the cork bark. I really don't care about nebari, so I want a very low graft giving me a trunk that is nothing but cork! This tree's 'medium height' graft is about the worst of all evils, IMHO, and may dictate what size tree you make in the end, if not just its style.
 

River's Edge

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JBP will airlayer at that stage with little difficulty! You are correct that JWP is a different matter. Also i share your thoughts as to why would one graft JBP on different rootstock. Unless trying to adapt to much colder temperatures so the market for the trees expands.
 

Freshman100

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Looking back over to when I bought the tree I have found that it was advertised as pinus thunbergii 'yumaki' which I know little about, other than its a form of dwarf JBP. could it be that the yumaki is the root stock. At present I think I am going to let this tree grow, feeding with bio gold in spring and fall. I may decide to fatten up the trunk and go for a larger size tree, this may help with disguising the graft union. The way I choose the front and back could also help In hiding the graft. So it will be interesting to see the way it grows, how nature itself may heal and hide a percentage of the graft as it fattens up. Unfortunately I can't get hold the seller at present. So...... Watch, wait, and see.
 

Shibui

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Yumaki will be the top art. The rootstock is almost certainly JPB seedling so just general JBP. Letting it grow for a couple of years will not hurt I think. See what happens and deal with the consequences IF they arise.
 

River's Edge

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Looking back over to when I bought the tree I have found that it was advertised as pinus thunbergii 'yumaki' which I know little about, other than its a form of dwarf JBP. could it be that the yumaki is the root stock. At present I think I am going to let this tree grow, feeding with bio gold in spring and fall. I may decide to fatten up the trunk and go for a larger size tree, this may help with disguising the graft union. The way I choose the front and back could also help In hiding the graft. So it will be interesting to see the way it grows, how nature itself may heal and hide a percentage of the graft as it fattens up. Unfortunately I can't get hold the seller at present. So...... Watch, wait, and see.
I agree with the additional information provided, this is likely a named cultivar propogation by grafting on normal JBP rootstock. Let it grow and see how te graft turns out!
 

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