Pine Year 3 Advice

Hello - I’m doing a bonsai in ignorance of what should be done because every time I thought of taking it up in the past, the information & purchase of equipment was so daunting to me that I froze. The only way to get over that, I thought, was just to do it & see if I’d enjoy it & look up solutions as I went along; so in Dec '14, I went online & bought myself a pine.

This is its 3rd year. The sketch is the shape I’m going for. Should I decandle the 3 prominent ones at the end of the trunk?

It is now early Spring here in London, UK, & the plant lives outside on a south facing window sill.

My thanks,


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Thanks for sharing! If you’re looking for the trunk to grow thicker, you might consider letting the apical shoots grow for a few years without cutting them back or decandling. This is the fastest way to thicken the trunk.

As for the branches, you have a couple of nice small shoots just below the apical shoots. You can create a new apex and all branches from these branches.

The trick at this point is to keep these branches short while the apical shoots run. They’ll be fine this year without cutting, but maybe in a year or two some cutback, or even limited decandling, may help.

More importantly, I like your approach of simply getting started and seeing how it feels - it can be a great way to get into bonsai!

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Thanks for your prompt reply, Sensei! My favourite kind of advice - do nothing :slight_smile:

Yes, I’d like the trunk thicker, so will do.

I’ve taken a close up as I’m uncertain of the branches you’re referring to. In any case, why create a new apex from the lower branches rather than bending back one of the 3 strong apical shoots? Don’t I then also lose the upward curve of the trunk I’ve been forming if I need to cut it back to form a new apex?

There might be an ignorance of botanical terms on my part here, my apologies - I had to look up ‘apical shoot’.

Which leads me to my other question:

To form the shape I want, do I bend back one of the apical shoots (sketch A) or develop the branches/shoots along the trunk, B?


A shot of its container to show you the context of the work. It’s by Takeshi Nagasaki, a gardener & designer based in Tokyo who used to live here in London. I would have liked to develop an even deeper curve, pulling it down well below the lip of the pot, but lacked the courage, but I assume this is possible at a later stage with side branches when I gain confidence.

It’s been a release writing to you; thanks so much! My mind’s buzzing with ideas now!

A practical item - it looks like it’s time to remove the existing wires from the trunk as they appear to be cutting in.

As for the branch/trunk questions, here’s some more food for thought:

I’ve gone through both articles twice now & am not sure I understand them. I’ll go through them slowly. Thanks for the links.

I was deliberately letting the wires cut in as I thought that was how you created a gnarled bloated trunk. I’ll remove them immediately.

Thanks again.

Hi Jonas - does the “do nothing at this stage” advice apply to needle plucking too? If not, might you direct me to a tutorial on what to do? I found yours, ‘Pulling Pine Needles’ dated 25 June '13, but assumed that applied to more mature trees?

Also, do you leave moss as part of the design or does it take too much food from the tree?


I tend to only remove needles from crowded areas on pines at this stage, and if I’m short on time, I leave all needles alone (haven’t written much about that yet, but you can see what I’ve done with similar trees in past posts).

If you have no insect trouble (they can hide in dense needles) I’d leave the needles be for now.

I don’t think the moss will make much difference either way - feel free to leave it if you like it :slight_smile:

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No insect or vigour issues so will leave needles & moss for now - thanks again!