Next step Black Pine

(Merlin) #1

Hi bonsai enthusiasts,

First of all, I think the Bonsai Tonight blog is great! I’ve learned a lot going trough all the old posts and the new.

1,5 years ago I started a batch of JBP from seed. They still have a long way to go.
Luckily I found a nice and affordable JBP last june to work on in the meantime. The seller helped me along and de-candled it for me and I came home with this:

I was very happy with it. My girlfriend on the other hand thought is was a sad blob with needles and didn’t understand why I would spend so much money on it. :stuck_out_tongue:

Anyway, I didn’t touch it all summer and didn’t fertilize until today (fish emulsion), although I don’t think the needles have hardened off completely. They are sharp but still light green and I’m able to pull them out with my fingers with a firm tug. But if I wait any longer it won’t make sense to fertilize anymore because it will be too cold. Where I live (The Netherlands) it is around 15 degrees celsius (60 F). Any lower and organic fertilizer wont’t work, right?
Should I have started fertilizing earlier? I didn’t because I was afraid the internodes and needles would get too long.

This is what it looks like now:

What would be the next step for this tree? I did a Bonsai Beginners Course a while back and read a lot about bonsai care so I have a general idea of what to do. But having a real tree in front of me I have actually no idea what the most ideal front for this tree would be. And would this be the right time to pull needles and select shoots?

Any advice and tips would be appreciated!


(jamie swords) #2

Jonas will answer all the technical aspects of the question but from a asthetic point of view I love the tree!! I think it’s gonna get awesome within a couple of years​:+1::+1::+1:

(Jonas Dupuich) #3

Thanks for posting, this looks like a nice tree. You could pluck some needles now and possibly thin a few shoots, if need be. You could also wait until spring. I’d imagine winter is cold where you are and the tree doesn’t look overly full.

As for the feeding, you’re right - following the approach where you don’t start feeding until the needles have fully hardened off may not work if the weather turns cold this time of year. One option may be to use liquid fertilizer like fish emulsion or inorganic fertilizers that are immediately available to the tree. Giving it some food now will help it come out strong in spring.

I’d actually like to find a resource that gives a better idea of the rate at which organic fertilizers become available as I’ve had similar questions. In lieu of that info, I know plenty of successful pine growers that start feeding gently about a month or two after decandling and they have good results.

Beyond that, the tree looks really healthy - keep up the good work!

(Merlin) #4

Sorry I never thanked you for the reply, so thanks!

A small update:
I plucked some old needles and selected shoots at the end of winter and three days ago I repotted it. It was in this red soil. Lava and I guess some sort of clay? Or is lava also able to break down like akadama? Because the top layer was quite solid and when watering it, the water would form a pool to the brim of the pot and take 20 seconds to drain away. So I thought it was a good time to do a repot.

I did notice the roots where very fine (skinny) and dark brown to blackish in color. Much different from the 1 and 2 year old pine seedlings I repotted which had a light brown color and looked more firm. I saw only a few small tips of new root growth. And I also noticed tiny white worms in the soil. Not sure if they can do any harm.
Is a darker color of the roots always a bad thing? I don’t notice anything else on the tree and the buds are extending. Should I be worried or just be paitient? Some pics from today:

(Jonas Dupuich) #5

It could be that the roots hadn’t started growing as much as on the younger trees you repotted. In general, brown and white/yellow roots are the healthy ones while black roots are older and/or dead roots, but new roots can emerge from the darker colored roots.

Cutting into the roots is the best way to tell if they’re healthy or not. If they’re dark inside too, that’s likely bad.

Lava doesn’t break down in the pot - you may have seen akadama:

(Merlin) #6

The buds are slightly larger, so it seems to be doing fine.
Could have been akadama, it was pretty much al dust, so hard to tell. Right now it is in a mix of 50% akadama 25% kiryu and 25% pumice.

I was wondering what you do after repotting? Because there seems to be a lot of contradicting information about aftercare. One states to put the tree in the shade for about a month since the freshly cut roots are unable to provide enough moisture to the foliage. Another would state to put it in the sun so the roots can recover due to energy produced by photosynthesis and the sun is able to warm the pot which also promotes root growth. Though they all seem to agree to protect it from wind.

(Jonas Dupuich) #7

I leave trees in the full sun after repotting. I’ve heard lots of different advice on the topic but have yet to see anyone measure the results when following different approaches. Winter and spring are mild where I live so it doesn’t typically get too hot or too cold. In general, I want the pot and soil to be warm to encourage root growth - the approach taken when using heat pads for propagation.

(Frank Corrigan) #8

If it is a pine, i deliberately put it in full sun after repotting. I always repot in the spring so the sun is not extreme and i want to encourage as much warmth and photosynthesis as possible. One time i would be careful is under hot/windy conditions or if the repot was an emergency for a tree with compromised health. Then i put a priority on humidity as well as sunlight. If the tree has been grafted recently then i take care to shade the new grafts. ( tape on the bag)

(Sely) #9

If I do extensive root work I put them in the greenhouse. If I do minor work I put them in full sun except Japanese maples, due to the fact that they can’t stay in full sun in the heat of Texas.

(Merlin) #10

These are the replies I wanted to read, because I also put my repotted trees in the sun this season! They are all doing great, even the Maples.
The last two years I did put them in the shade for about a month, and it felt a little weird. Looking back now, it feels like some sort of torture for them; cutting the roots and being helt back one month worth of growth… :sweat_smile:
I recently joined a bonsai club and one of the members also advised me to put it in the shade (will be an interesting discussion next time I’m there).
But I guess it depends on the local climate and type of tree. Here in the Netherlands the spring warmth slowly builds up so the trees can get used to it. I can imagine the heat of Texas can be a little too much at times.

(Merlin) #11

I let it grow all summer and most of the shoots didn’t get very long, the needles did get long when I started fertilizing though.

In the meantime I followed a bonsai course and last week my teacher and I styled the tree for the first time. Very exciting to see it’s starting to look like a bonsai!
Because the needles had gotten quite long, the teacher told me to pull out all the new needles and leave 8 old needles per branch. This to improve access to sunlight and air circulation, and to promote backbudding.

The goal for the next growing season is to improve the ramification. My thoughts are decandling in june is the way to go. My teacher is more cautious with this technique and was talking about pinching the candles because of unpredictable weather in july.

So if taking the decandling approach, would the lack of last years needles be a problem?
And I’m very curious what the results will be if cutting just above the two-year old needles, like Jonas talks about in this post: cutback-decandling-technique.

I would like to hear your thoughts on all this and suggestions from everyone are welcome.

This is an example of one of the longer shoots without current year needles:

(Jonas Dupuich) #12

Looks like the tree is coming along nicely. I haven’t practiced removing the new needles as it really slows the tree down but it’s possible that the standard approach to decandling will work fine.

That said, the example in the above photo looks like a great opportunity for cutting back to the previous year’s needles (cutback-decandling, for lack of a better phrase).

It’s a bit interesting that the needle size was a concern. I typically don’t worry about needle length as the needles tend to come out short after decandling and if I don’t decandle it’s usually because I want the tree to gain strength. If I want the needles to be more uniform or they end up long after decandling, I’m more likely to cut the needles to a consistent length.

I expect the back budding next year could be good as a result of pulling the current year’s needles. And as long as you don’t need buds where this year’s needles were growing, the tree should be fine without them.

(Ανδρέας Γάβρης) #13

It’s not funny. The weather of every place and temperature plays a big role. I live in Greece. I see there is a great difference between the way we treat the trees in Northern Greece in Macedonia and in Athens, at a distance of 300 km. Atser in Thessaloniki thrives while in Athens they can not withstand the heat
Imagine the difference between longer distances and different climates.
Everyone should learn to operate on the basis of the climatic conditions of his place.