Lower branching on pine

I’m new to pines and I received some nursery stock that’s about 4-5 years old. The trees are about 3 foot tall and there are no branches on the first foot of the trunck. This is a big issue for bonsai and I read your blog and you really know your stuff. Could you give me some guidance please.

The tree looks healthy, that’s a good start. Do you have an idea for the tree’s future?

Im thinking a thick trunked upright or informal upright slant but if I can’t get a lower branch I could do a laterati

You could use existing branches to do a graft, cut down the top hoping for back bud or air/earth layer to rise the roots?

Really these stock plants don’t have much character, making them good to practise both skill and artistry.

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Thank you for that Christopher I’m in a forum and the only thing I could get was dig the tree up pot it grow it for 3-5 years fert fert fert. And hope for back budding. But I know there’s ways to help back budding I was going to pluck from all the top branches to show the tree that the lower/ lowest branches are important once the candles pop I was going to trim to 1 branch at each knot or even change the apex. I’m used to deciduous trees so this is different and I know you can’t cut to far back. I’m looking for a 2-3 inch trunck before I really start training.

If you want a bigger trunk before training begins, lower branching isn’t too important at this point. When the trunk reaches the desired size you can work with the lowest branch, new buds will appear or you can graft.

The main thing to focus on while the trunk thickens is developing the movement and taper you’re looking for.

What’s the best way to focus on taper

Great question. The simple answer is letting the tree grow freely for several years in the ground or in a large container, then cutting back to a new leader and repeating the process until you have the trunk you’re looking for. There’s a good explanation of the process here:


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Wow thanks that was great reading. It say to bend trunk but with an inch trunk think I could still bend I would use raffia but could that block new buds. Or could I do it with out raffia.

My plan is to cut back to hope for back budding for the one in ground cause I’d like that to be a formal upright. A little history spring this year the tree had I want to say an 8-16 inch candle across the tree that’s with the tree being bare rooted the year before. But the tree in pot of like to twist up.

Okay this is a follow up and I’ve been studying the trees. Looking at strong weak branches thinking about major cut backs etc. Okay for the first tree (potted out or ground).

Okay that’s what I have for that one. Plan was to cut to 2 sets of branching and get more sun on the 2 lower buds, but I think one of them is dead (no new bud). Having a brain fart cause I’m not looking at the pictures. The branch with the little bud pop would be the new apex.

Now the second tree. It has one small very weak branch under the rest this tree I’m thinking of getting really aggressive with and putting some strong bends in but with it having an inch plus thick trunk all I could find is 3 mm copper and even doubling might not be enough. Also with a truck of this size should I wrap with raffia or even “rope”. I have some iron rods I was going to use to help with the bending. Also thinking of changing apex also. Sorry back tracking. If wrapped won’t that block new buds. Could I just wrap and wire for winter and unwrap but rewire for spring. Here’s pictures of this guy.

Thanks for anything and hope I’m not confusing.

If the question is whether or not to use raffia, the answer is use it if the bending you have in mind would tear the bark from the wood underneath. Young pines can typically take a lot of bending before raffia is needed, but sometimes twisting bends can easily separate the bark from the wood.

The bigger question is what the plan is at this point. If you want a skinny trunk, some bends make sense. If you want a thicker trunk, lots of growth is needed.

Yes sorry after reading its kind of a tricky question. The one in the ground I want to twist up due to the branching being so high the other I plan to put a bow in but not rally twist it up. My 2 major questions are would the raffia block buds, and could I wrap for winter then unwrap in spring to hope for buds to pop. Also if I cut top down/ change apex over winter could that extra energy promote lower buds. These are basicly trainer trees so they are going to be 2 extremes to practice on because I have a ton of seeds I’ll be growing this spring so I’ll be able to start then properly rather then having “boring” nursery stock.

Thanks for the details. Yes, raffia blocks buds, and I wouldn’t expect buds to pop simply because raffia has been removed from an area. Major cutback tends to lead a tree to push more growth on branches near the cut. New buds are most likely to pop where there are already needles.

Well I planned to do a major cut back in spring about 2 years worth to also help increase taper and hope for back budding on trunks lower and to try and strengthen the branch on the lower of the other tree.

The cutback, if not too severe, is typically good for encouraging growth lower on the tree at the expense of slowing it down quite a bit. If you go that route, you can see what comes out and then work with that.