Japanese black pine whorls


(Paul) #1

Purchased my 1st JBP, looked good and had a nice lower trunk. Started to clean it up and found that nice lower trunk went right to the top of a 40" tree, no taper at all. The tree had 4 whorls and the top whorl was cut off to try and get taper from one of the branches in the new top whorl. There are now 3 whorls. The lower whorl has thin pencil size branches. The 2nd whorl has I/2" to 3/4" branches then there is a 12" thick trunk that ends in another whorl. I know it is the wrong time of year but the 12" of trunk was so ugly I did 3 grafts and am keeping my fingers crossed. Each whorl has 5 or more branches and each branch has a whorl of 5 to 7 branches. I am stymied and don’t know here to go. If I start cutting the branches to 1 from each whorl I’ll have a 32" tree with 3 branches. My camera just broke so I can’t send a picture.
I will real appreciate any help or suggestions of where to go from here. BTW the tree has not been repotted. I will wait until March to repot. I live in Z6 coastal Massachusetts.


(Jonas Dupuich) #2

It could be that being stymied in this case reflects good sensibility - if the tree isn’t suitable material for bonsai, that makes everything that follows difficult. A straight trunk and multiple branches emerging from just a few whorls suggests the tree has not been trained as this is how pines grow when left alone. Grafting, bending, cutback and repotting at an angle are the main options available here, and it sounds like you’re doing a good job of it. It may be that doing a good job with the wrong tree will only go so far.

Of course, seeing the tree would help a lot (sorry about the camera!). I think trees like this can be great for learning problem solving and basic care techniques like grafting, wiring and decandling. Do share a pic when you can.

In the meantime, can you imagine what the future of the tree could be given the current trunk? I’ll sometimes cut back to the first branch and plant the tree at an angle to develop a new trunk line with more movement and taper. This approach extends the time required for development, but it can sometimes make for a more interesting tree.


(Paul) #3

If I took it to my club that is what they would suggest, cut down to 1 branch and start over :>) and if I was younger I probably would :>) but now I am looking for other suggestion.
Thanks for you help. Does anyone else have any suggestions???


(Sely) #4

You would be surprised with how fast a tree can grow and heal if the conditions was right. You might just put it in the ground for the next few years. Pot grown can take awhile and the roots are limited on how much it can grow. You can still allow one leader to grow but train the lower part.
Grafting is an option but getting branch where they need to be can also take time and patience, especially trying to graft onto a trunk with very interesting bark. From then on, getting the branches to thicken can also take time.
The larger the tree, the longer the time.
And Jonas might have a point, practicing on this one can help out on future projects.


(Paul) #5

I like that suggestion but I live in a condo with limited sun so I might slip-pot into a larger pot (colander) so it can be moved.

This was also my 1st attempt at grafting. My next questions are:
how long before you know if a graft has take?
how do you know if it has taken?

Might even try Branch Bending for the 1st time. Another Practice Jonas?


(Sely) #6

Depending on what kind of graft you do.
Approach grafts on deciduous can take a year or two, while pines can take a bit longer.
If the new graft or scion is growing vigorously, reduce the understock or decandle the stock not the graft. Allow it to grow freely. On approaches, you will notice the graft getting larger but the branch from which it came from has a smaller caliper.
Every once in awhile, you will get grafts that does nothing for a year but still remain green/alive. Just leave those alone and the following year it should begin to grow. It’s always a 50/50 chance with all graft but practice makes perfect.
As for sunlight, pines love sun all year round. The more, the better. It 8 plus hours for my trees. Corkbark pines cork faster in the heat of Texas and spread out more but in cooler climates they grow more upright, well at least for me they do.


(Jonas Dupuich) #7

Sely said it well. With pine it can be hard to tell when a graft has taken but easy to see when it fails (it turns brown). Typically the good sign is when it sends out new growth in early spring (pines are often grafted in winter when the tree is dormant).

Sometimes the scion stays alive but the graft union is weak and the graft can easily fall out or break away even though it has “taken.”

After care is also very important: http://bonsaitonight.com/2013/09/20/graft-after-care/

And don’t hesitate to wire and/or cutback when the time’s right - I imagine it can help the tree look better :slight_smile:


(Sely) #8

Thank you Jonas,

Here’s a picture on a trident maple where you can see it has taken.


Here’s one on a pine, can’t tell if it has taken.
Both were done this year, the trident had a really bad reverse taper and was air layered off and a new graft to start the new apex. The pine felt like it was missing a branch, internodal spacing was too far.
Hope this helps. Sorry Jonas, I don’t know how to resize my photos.


(Paul) #9

I have had luck with approach graft on maples and I wish I had tried an approach graft on the pine. Just didn’t think of it.
Lots to think about.
Thank you both


(Paul) #10

Do JBP back bud on trunks?
If so, what procedure is necessary to accomplish the back budding?


(Sely) #11

A very interesting question that is hard to answer. Not all seedlings react the same way. Dwarf and yatsabusa seems to bud back along non-internodal spaces while others are better at the nodal spaces. A whorl of branches is when you cut the stongest leader among the needles and you get needle bud backs. The other is when you decandle to get nodal bud backs. Both are prune during the summer, given enough time to grow back according to everyone’s location.
Nodal bud backs.


Needle bud backs.
The decandling and hard cut backs can promote back budding in the lower areas but not guaranteed. Nodal back bud are your best bet. It’s harder for the tree to bud through bark.
Once again Jonas, sorry for the photo size.


(Paul) #12

Right now my only option seems to be patients.
Thanks again.


(Neli Stoyanova) #13

I am sure I am silly but I dont know how to ask a question. Where do I find the place where one asks questions?
I would like to ask about kotobuki. Any differences between treatment like decandling and cut back between Kotobuki and JBP?


(Paul) #14

There should be a pop up on the top of the home page " ask bonsai to night"