I have three JBP’s that have been cutback from 6’ stock and maintained for three years to include candle/ needle removal and re-potting to include half-root reduction. Some back budding has occurred. The needles appear healthy however no new candles are in evidence. I would like to style them as cascades but the absence off needles is a concern. Also I have not found a guide that deals with the time to do styling and I assume February would be appropriate. Because they have no candles and they otherwise appear healthy what actions should I be taking now and till Feb?
Sounds like an interesting project. Typically you can work on pines when they aren’t actively growing. The main reason to avoid working on pines in spring - or summer if you decandle - is to avoid damaging tender growth. Late winter is great for heavy bending.
As for when to work on your trees, it might be easier to make a recommendation if you can upload a photo or two.
Thanks for the pics (uploaded below). The tree appears healthy - am curious about the absence of candles. It’s a bit hard to tell from the photos - could you describe what’s happened this year and maybe how it differs from what happened last year, if that’s the case?
e.g. spring candles came but no buds appeared at the ends of the branches; or removed spring growth (decandled) but no summer buds appeared, etc.
Apart from the missing candles, some light thinning could happen at any time - I’d do most of the major work at the end of winter. I’m assuming the trunk has reached the desired size - if not, I’d let the tree grow and feed heavily.
Last year the candles on all my pines appeared in April after February potting. Heavy fertilizing was started and developed candles were removed in late June or early July. Very small candles developed in early August. Needles were pulled in December. All my pines were repotted in mid March this year with only half the roots cleared of their previous soil and replaced with and an APL mix. Fertilizing was increased in April and May. Heavy rains occurred in May and June. In May, I noted needle cast and treated it with a copper fungicide. Candles did not appear in April or May or June. I asked several members of my club about the no candle issue which caused no alarms. We had a scheduled meeting with a visiting guest in July who would not be conducting a demo. It was to help session for problem trees. We had that meeting last night with Owen Reich as the guest artist. Members brought in trees that had issues. Owen would inspected them and offer corrective advice. The pine I brought to the meeting was not the one in the above photo. It was a second pine that also did not have candles that was potted in a colander.
The list of my errors he provided was long to include the terracotta pot had I used. I told him had added cottonseed, blood and bone meals and Ironite and mixed it into the top half inch of the pot in April increasing the amount each month, scraping the old fertilizer off before adding more. Apparently doing that and watering as required for our area, the soil/fertilizer mix formed a half inch cap that apparently did not let enough fertilizer run to reach the roots. Owen then spotted what is also apparent in the above photo, needle cast. I had detected the needle cast in all my pines in May this year. I did spray them using a copper based product at the suggested time and amount levels. Using the copper product and the almost daily rains apparently washed the fungicide off the trees without doing what the product was supposed to do. Owen suggested alternate use of two different fungicides. He closed my time by advising me to remove all pairs of needles that had a cast appearance, an action I have done for the above pine and the one he reviewed. I will start using two different fungicides thru September or October and I will see if candles develop. If they do I will take appropriate candling and needle actions in December and January and re-pot my pines in February to get them back on a proper pine growth schedule. Although no definitive cause for the lack of candles was detailed, I will assume that my errors and the almost daily rain out of the fungicide in May and June has resulted in the lack of candles at this time.
Thanks for providing the care notes - it sounds like the trees haven’t had an easy year. I wouldn’t want to do any work on them until they start producing more vigorous growth. Getting the trees into good soil is the first step and it sounds like you’ve made a good start on that.
On that note, I’m a bit curious about the fertilizer. Was the crust preventing water from reaching the roots below? If so, I’d recommend another approach or even liquid fertilizer to ensure good drainage. If drainage was good through the crust formed by the fertilizers then the water would bring the fertilizer with it to the roots below. I’ve used chopsticks to check drainage after watering and am often surprised how easily water can run off the sides, especially when using colanders.
Keeping the fungus in check will be the other focus for the year. This can be tricky. In some cases it requires spraying something like Daconyl every 7-10 days throughout the rainy season (and if it rains on a day you plan to spray, wait until the rain stops and spray within 24 hours of when it stops raining).
It’ll be time to work on the tree when you see long candles appear - either next spring or the following spring.