Ponderosa first steps

Hi folks. I haven’t touched this ponderosa yet, other than cleaning out old needles. It’s healthy and will probably be ready for some basic structural work this winter or next year. I’m just not sure where to go with it. Building the apex will oddly require wiring branches up, I think, rather than down. It was growing under a larger tree and had a minor mistletoe infestation, which can cause this kind of morphology but appears to be resolved now. Here are some closeups of the front and top down/bottom up of the branching:

Any thoughts on how to deal with this mop top? I’ll start implementing Michael Hagedorn’s prescription for ponderosa needle reduction and refinement in 2-3 years, but for now it would be nice to get a jump on some basics, as it can take a couple of years at least for coarse branches to set. Thanks!

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I think that you might want to go with the downward trend since the ponderosa is typically straight as a pole. What I wonder is how you were able to get rid of the mistletoe infestation?

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I would consider repotting in a way that you can view the tree from the side. you could simply cut the box sides down without disturbing the tree. Then i would take picture of all four sides and post. That would allow others to view and respond to your questions in a more informed manner.
I love the ponderosa for their character and unusual movement.
thanks for posting.

Fun material - the first photo shows good interest along the trunk but it looks like the apex is growing away from the viewer. Unless the other side of the trunk also has interesting features, the side with the deadwood makes sense as a front. That said, the apex may be tricky (hard to get sense of perspective from photo). It looks like there are enough branches to outline a basic silhouette with the branches going down a bit but mostly staying near the current level.

It appears wiring the branches upward would be a way to extend the trunkline - is that one of the options you’re considering?

Thanks for the feedback everyone. @Lblack, it only had a minor mistletoe infestation. Physical removal, water and plenty of sun took care of it. Fertilization has helped with other trees I have, but this one wasn’t ready for fertilizer yet. Mistletoe infestations on ponderosas seem to be more a symptom of a weak tree than anything else.

@Riversedgebonsai, thanks for the suggestion, I’ll be sure to get it into a better container following the next transplant. I don’t like sawing boxes while the tree is in it, seems like too much vibration. I’ve also put it away for winter and don’t want to pull it out again, it weighs a good 80 pounds. But I did take the following pic after doing some basic wiring over the weekend

I tried to open it up a bit, and as @bonsaitonight suggested I extended the line a bit by initiating an apex a bit above the gnarly part of the tree. Also as you pointed out one of the difficulties is many of the branches being in the same plane. I’ll lift the branches on the right up a little bit, and there are plenty of buds to prune back to. I’ll also greatly reduce the visual weight of the stub on the upper right. Will post updates in a year or two. Thanks again!

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How is the tree now?

Doing great, leafed out well this year and has tons of new buds ready to push next year. I’ll post pics then, after I have it into a pot that will allow for better viewing.

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