How to create buds low on the trunk of young Japanese Black Pine Seedling


Dear Jonas,

When and how would you go about removing top growth on young Japanese Black Pine Seedlings to induce branching down low?

What is the best time of year for this and how old should the seedlings be?


(Jonas Dupuich) #2

The two main times I cut pines are fall/winter and decandling time. I’d decide where or how to cut based on the specifics. Do you have a photo of a tree or trees you’re curious about?


No I was just wondering. Thank you

Do you cut the the main terminal bud or are you decandling them?

(Jonas Dupuich) #4

Decandling doesn’t typically begin until the trunk has reached the desired thickness. In general I’m cutting to a point where there are needles from a previous year.

An example - if you get 8" of growth in the tree’s 2nd year, you can cut back to any point along the trunk as long as there are still needles remaining on the tree. Leaving needles is important because that’s where the new shoots will emerge.


Do you have an pictures or examples I could see to get an idea of how far you cut back?

I don’t really have material yet but, I am doing research before my seedlings get to that stage.

(Jonas Dupuich) #6

I’m not sure I have photos of this - there’s kind of no wrong place to cut. If the tree is 1 or 2 years old you can cut anywhere in between where the needles are growing. Will see about a post on the topic in the coming weeks.

(Luigi Dell'Orto) #7

Hi I would like to provide some photos of my 3 years old JBP and JRP, I have the same issue as Evan.

Also not very sure the bends i gave are good enough.

(Jonas Dupuich) #8

It looks like these pines are off to a good start. The big question is whether you want these to become big trees or small trees. If you want small trees, you can start cutting back and decandling this year and then let the branches thicken later. If you want bigger trees, they can keep growing.


More needles = more photosynthesis = more flowing sugers and starches = back budding

(Sely) #10

Just make sure it gets plenty of sun light to the lower area as well as good fertilizer.

(Frank Corrigan) #11

All good points, the initial question focussed on inducing growth down low. The techniques and conditions required for that to happen involve several factors. The primary factor is what is the plan for the tree. This determines when the apical growth is dialed back and the focus becomes bud back. When the apical growth is encouraged again and then when refinement begins. As mentioned above, providing the proper conditions for growth, sun, air, water and nutrients are important. Proper pruning techniques applied to affect a response ( backbudding ) or allowing apical growth to affect a response ( thickening ). These techniques need to be used in combination with proper growth conditions.
So in short, the plan for the tree determines when to induce budback and lateral growth and when to encourage larger trunk, thicker branches. On a smaller size Black Pine, i would cut back the main sacrifice leader in year three or four if needed to encourage low branching. But i would do so with a replacement sacrifice leader already chosen and wired up at the same time. Thus i would be able to continue the trunk growth while hopefully inducing some lower branches to work with down the road. Changing the sacrifice leader also helps to keep the size of scars to heal to a minimum. The goal is to end up with a trunk free of large scars and with better movement and taper.


thanks, but this pretty much applies to nearly any growing plant.

(clive bennett) #13

tight wire on the trunk (light biting in ) causes low branching in my pines Japanese black and Scots.,