Monterey Pine Care vs JBP?

I’ve been growing Monterey pine seedlings - the oldest is maybe 7 years - and have been looking for information from more experienced growers because they seem to differ a bit from JBP. For example, I came across an old Golden Statements article (circa 1980) quoting Katsuma Kinoshita from Monterey. This article suggests a calendar of care that includes candle cutting in June or July as follows-- completely remove the strongest candles, cut typical candles down to about 5-6 needle groups, and less to no cutting of weaker candles. Presumably this is being done all at once. What I have noticed on my young trees is that they grow almost continuously with a profusion of buds and back budding in response to any reduction. I have experimented with trimming long new growth as it arises (apart from sac branches) from around May through August. Compared with trees that were candle cut in a more typical JBP fashion, this approach seems to result in tighter and faster development. I would love to hear from people with a longer view and more experience with this native species.

I’m glad to hear that you are growing Monterey pine from seed. I think we need to do more experimenting with our Native trees. However, the challenge is that if you work on something that not many have done before it’s more difficult to get feedback on what is working and what is not from others. I’ve only worked on one Monterey pine, so unfortunately don’t have much info for you. However, we decandled and treated it just like JBP, thinning to two buds . I believe this was during an intensive at Boons. The results seemed to be very good and it reacted similar to JBP. It’s interesting to me how you can decandle Monterey and Black pine which both live on the Coast, where as you don’t decandle White an Ponderosa which are both high mountain trees. Sorry I was not more help.

I grew a few knobcone, which are very similar. Unfortunately, they all died from pitch canker infections at the site where I cut the tap roots when they were young. So I switched to black pines. I’ve read the same article that you likely did by Kinoshita. Actually looking at it now. In 1984 there were two golden statements issues with articles. Unfortunately, they contain conflicting information on Monterey pines.

The convention issue advocates the black pine techniques while the earlier issue from may/june of that year advocates techniques more similar to those used on Japanese White pines (bud shortening in spring, no decandling.)

On the whole, I’d not put much stock in these old articles. The techniques used at the time did not promote the best health of the plant. I think they were largely similar to some of the horticultural advice found in Naka’s books. E.g. Kinoshita advocates using 8 parts native soil with 2 parts pumice. I don’t think anyone would advocate that these days.

Best to rely on your own experience…which I hope you’ll share more of.

Thanks to both of you for your replies. I plan to get more scientific with this project in the spring. I will randomize groups of new seedlings to the two different care strategies discussed. The first will be a modified white pine-type regimen that takes into account the extended growing season of Monterey pines - essentially bud/shoot trimming while growth remains vigorous. The second will be a typical black pine approach. Based on Eric’s experience, I will not root prune the seedlings as Jonas describes for black pines in the blog, but I might study that separately. I’ll keep you posted with all the results as the trees progress.

I too look forward to hearing how the experiment goes. I have a little experience with Monterey pine bonsai but have cared for Monterey pine landscape trees for a number of years. When younger trees are happy - lots of water, fertilizer and sunshine - they can grow almost any time, and as you noticed, reductions can produce a profusion of growth at the site of the cut as well as down along the branch. The older and larger specimens I’ve worked on are a bit easier in that they respond more predictably to something like decandling. When decandling (landscape trees) earlier in the season I end up with very dense growth in summer. When I decandle and cut back in fall they look good for a while but come out extra strong in spring. It’s always been a bit of a balancing act.