Japanese Black Pine Advice

(Andy Johnson ) #1

I’ve been an avid reader of the website since I started in bonsai a couple of years ago and have learned a great deal - I look forward to your regular blogs and have many of them bookmarked for quick reference. I know that living in the U.K. means our growing conditions aren’t the same as yours in the U.S. but I think the techniques should / would still work over here?

I’ve got four JBP’s - three I’m hoping to grow as informal uprights and one as a cascade, they are all fairly young 2-4 year old trees and I’ve got them planted in pond baskets. I’ve done a little shaping with wire and some pruning but am confused about what I should do next with them - I really want to develop some trunk thickness. I know it’s a cheek, but I wonder if I could ask you for some help? I’ve attached some pictures of one of them here and can send pictures of the others if you are ok with this. I will take more pictures if these aren’t enough.

Thanks again!


(Jonas Dupuich) #2

Hi Andy - I think two main ideas might be a good place to start.

Because you live in a fairly northern latitude, your refinement techniques (primarily decandling) will differ a bit from the approach taken in southern climes. Decandling, however, is likely a number of years off, depending on how big you want these trunks to become.

The second idea is that the main order of business at this point is thickening the trunk. Lots of fertilizer, no decandling and progressively larger containers will get you there fastest.

The big thing to consider at this point is what part of the trunk needs thickening and what shape the trunk will take.

Wiring and/or shaping should happen before thickening to avoid heavy bends later.

As for the placement of sacrifice branches, if they are all near the top of the tree, the entire length of the trunk will be the same diameter. Lower sacrifice branches will help with the development with taper. Will look to do a post on this soon.

That’s some ABC trunk development info. Let us know if you have specific questions about these trees and we’ll see what we can do to help.

(Andy Johnson ) #3

Thanks for the feedback Jonas. As this tree has most of its growth at the top, what do I do to encourage those lower shoots to grow faster in order to thicken the lower trunk to give me some mor taper? Should I pinch all of the top candles and leave the lower ones?

Thanks again,


(Jonas Dupuich) #4

The branches mid-way along the trunk might make for good sacrifice branches - I’d let the tree grow freely this year.

(Andy Johnson ) #5

Thanks again, Jonas.

Last question, I have these trees in pond baskets - should I be looking at getting them in the ground for some faster growth? Or should I leave them as they are? Or repot into bigger pots?

Thanks again,


(Jonas Dupuich) #6

It looks like they can go another year in the pond baskets.

As for putting them in the ground, there are trade-offs. They’ll grow faster in the ground, but it’s harder to give the trees the best care and styling as it’s harder to work on them near the ground.