Hi Jonas. The cutback decandling technique you describe is intriguing, particularly for shohin that are starting to break rank. I’m a bit nervous to try it, though, because all the Japanese black and red pines in my collection here in South Florida are relatively old and in refinement (example posted). Would this technique work reliably on older pines if done in early summer, or is this something more applicable to young trees with exuberant candles? Can it stimulate budding even proximal to last year’s growth? Do the needle buds that form develop into normal shoots, or are they like juvenile foliage that never becomes as robust?
Nice pine Chuck! The technique is more reliable with young trees but it can work with trees like yours too. The main thing is that the branch you want to cut is growing well and that the needles you’re cutting back to are healthy.
If the pine is healthy but growing slowly - what we normally expect from more mature specimens - the technique is less reliable.
I find it works best when the tree is really strong and you make the cuts at decandling time. I’d decandle all of the other shoots like normal and cut a but further back on the branches where you want to stimulate needle buds.
The buds develop and behave like normal buds fairly quickly, within a single season when the tree is super vigorous and after 1-2 years at the slowest I’ve seen.
Do note that you’ll have to leave a few old needles when you do fall needle thinning or you won’t have needles to cut back to!