Black Pine in need

I have a question regarding one of my trees. I have a Black Pine I purchased several years ago which is still in the nursery pot. I have not attempted to do anything with it as yet.
I have attached several pictures of it and as you can see it is in bad shape. Is it too late to work on it now? If not, what can I do to start getting it into shape.
I know it’s too late to repot but can I start to prune it back now? Also, I have seen pictures of black pines in your book as well as on your Bonsai Tonight posts.
They all have short very upright needles. Mine has long and erratic needles. Are yours a different verity or are they trimmed to look like that? So what can I do now?

I have 4 young JBPs in 7-15gal nursery pots that look just like yours - very long candles, etc.
I believe it’s a sign of a very vigorous and healthy tree.

I don’t plan to cut them off nor shorten (just yet)… as I am trying to grow a 4-6’ tall niwaki/garden-tree (so, slightly different goals than a small bonsai).

Though, there are zero tutorials online on how to develop a garden/niwaki JBP… so I’m just guessing I let it grow to desired height of 4-6’ (maybe a little taller, for “escape”/sacrificial leaders and/or branches, which can always be cut off later).

I also plan to start twining/roping down the long side-branch candles soon, to horizontal, once they start hardening off and turning brown/durable… (because it’ll be much easier/quicker now, to train horizontal while still thin/young).

But, if anyone also has advice on how to develop a garden/niwaki at this younger small stage… please do help and I appreciate it.
(sorry for kinda hijacking your thread with a kinda off-topic question).

Hi Roger -

That pine is looking great to me, what was your concern specifically? The long candles are a sign of health though they do look weird at this stage. Depending on your location you may want to decandle later this year to start shortening internodes.

The tree looks healthy so now’s a good time to get started. I don’t typically work on pines while the new growth is elongating, but you can remove the needles from the undersides of the branches. This will give you a better idea of what the structure of the tree looks like. You might also do some light pruning if you find crowded areas (places where one branch splits into 3 or more smaller branches).

As for the needle size, you can control this by decandling the tree in June. Here’s info on that topic:

@fooddude: The basic process of creating garden pines is similar to the process of creating bonsai pines. The main differences are that people generally take shortcuts to create larger trees in less time. This means less decandling and little if any wiring.

One tip: aiming for short internodes will yield trees with better movement and character. Cutting back to shorter shoots will help with this. Managing whorls when they’re young will also help create attractive branching.

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Thanks for the tip!

I’ve been told to not cut leaders off for niwaki (ie: making a “kinked trunk”), because it’ll slow it down too much (especially for a 4-6’ or taller niwaki… and I assume “kinked movements” would probably not be as apparent on a larger/taller scale JBP). When I first got it, I kinked/cut-off the leader at its’ first trunk-whorl. But, this year and after that, I didn’t do that anymore (I plan to mostly bend the trunk with twine now).
It def left a nice kink/movement when I first did that, but it def slowed it down too for 1 year. I plan to not trunk chop it anymore (just bend with twine) until I reach desired height, and then I’ll trunk chop any “escape” leaders.

Nice! I managed a lot of the whorls too in late winter/early spring (fresh candle)…
Trunk whorls - were crazy and I counted as many as 11 per whorl! So, I left 3-4 (1 leader, 1 side branch plus 1-2 extra for back-up [in case I break any on accident while bending] or for future branch placement changes… extras will be cut off in the future before bulging).
Side branch whorls - I counted as many as 3-6… but, I reduced all of them into a fork/pair. I will twine them down once the green lignifies to brown.

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