Bonsai Study Group Forum

Species Specific => Japanese Black Pine Bonsai Discussion => Topic started by: Anthony on March 04, 2011, 03:37 PM

Title: Help
Post by: Anthony on March 04, 2011, 03:37 PM
This is my Japanese black pine. It is from seed and about 20 or so years old. A gift packet from a Japanese teacher.
I have never seen a Japanese black pine in the flesh.
Been working from Bonsai Today, 1 to 30.

I am from the Caribbean, and this is the true Tropics.

I would like to encourage my pine to sub-branch on the main branches. The present branches have many small candles, riding on each other.
Should I attempt to thin out these candles?

Will my tree bleed to death from so many fine cuts?
When this tree candles, the tops will grow needles, but not the entire length of the candle. If I cut one of these candles, new shoots will form.

The pine slows around November, but is never truly dormant. I do not get spring flushes, just continuous candles forming.

Tree is grown in 70 sifted crushed silica based sand for construction and for organic material, compost and cocopeat.

Rather than pull needles, I cut back to the sheath and a few weeks later the needle that is left falls off.

Is anything else needed ?
Title: Re: Help
Post by: Treebeard55 on March 04, 2011, 06:36 PM
Anthony, JBP does best with a true winter dormancy, I believe. Could you stick it in an old refrigerator from November to January? (Seriously.)
Title: Re: Help
Post by: MatsuBonsai on March 04, 2011, 07:18 PM
Looks like you've been doing well keeping it alive and healthy for 20 years down in the tropics.  Is there some discoloration on the needle tips at the top right, or is that just a trick of light and shadows?

There are two main ways to regulate growth on "refined" trees.  Pinching is used to slow down aggressive candles in early Spring (middle of April for me).  Decandling is done in Summer (mid to late June for me) to help balance energy and promote ramification. 

Knowledge of how JBP grow can also help while you're developing the tree.  Once you understand this they can be quite predictable on how they react.  You may have to play around with the timing, etc., but you should be able to figure it out for your area relatively quickly.

Check out Boon's DVD series ( ( 

The Stone Lantern "Pines" book ( ( is also pretty good, though some of the articles can be quite confusing and may seem contradictory at first.
Title: Re: Help
Post by: Anthony on March 04, 2011, 07:25 PM
Oh dear, Steve,

if Japanese Black Pines really needed a refrigerator, they would have been dead by year 4 as Japanese maples tend to do if they are not given a period of dormancy.
What I am trying to determine is how much the tropical conditions might have shifted or altered the response seen in say zone 8 Japan, and if I just need to shift the techniques backwards so many months or treat the JBP more like a normal tree and let the intense sunlight do the needle reduction.

Not easy questions as I am working from only photographs, and never having seen the real thing. So I am attempting to find  someone to talk to who might be able to make a link.

It's me by the way,  ;)

Never expected to need to post to this site, so I used the name of the Saint sitting on my computer's desk, as my handle.
If I say, Serissa in the Tropics, rings any bells.

* As you know I keep Celtis o. or l. or a, Ginkgo, and a trident maple in an old refrigerator already. April 1st is the end of winter in the refrigerator.
Title: Re: Help
Post by: Anthony on March 04, 2011, 07:37 PM
Thanks for replying MatsuBonsai,

Bonsai Outlaw suggested the Boon DVDs and gave me the address, so I am working on that presently.

Thanks for the dates, they are very helpful. Yes, I have the Stone Lantern magazines, 1 to 34 have 3 specific articles on JBP and I recently got another in the later set [ 71 to 94 ], I believe they took the articles from the magazines and made them into a book.

The old needles were getting ready to brown and fall, I have since taken the cautious way and cut them back to the sheath. I have two sacrificial branches at the back where I also took out some of the excessive candling, and made notes. On a younger tree I had also cut one of the longer candles that only grow needles at the top, back to 3-5 mm, it responded by producing smaller candles, notes taken again.

I spread the tests over several pines, at several different ages, so I wouldn't damage any one tree to severely.

Once again thank you for the response.
Title: Re: Help
Post by: MatsuBonsai on March 05, 2011, 08:38 AM
Fall cleanup (end of October, beginning of November for me) is another important time for "refined" trees.  During this time old needles are pulled (or cut at the sheath) and cut back to 2 candles of relatively equal strength.  This is all about energy balance and planning for the future. 

This knowledge, again, can be used for trees in training as well.  For major cuts they are typically done in Winter (February for me).  If you're worried about bleeding you can leave a stub to dry out. 

I'm not sure if it was covered in early Bonsai Today issues, but there's a technique to leave a "spike" of sorts, and seal the base with cut paste for large cuts.  The point of the spike continues to draw sap while the base begins to callous.  Later the spike will be removed.

Title: Re: Help
Post by: Anthony on March 05, 2011, 09:14 AM

once again thank you. Yes, the pine was once 3 plus feet tall and every time I reduced the height, I left a stub. In fact I am just coming indoors, after cleaning up two other stubs and you can see the callus is forming. Plus an old cut is almost completely closed off and healed.

This year is the 3rd year in the same soil and I think I will return the tree to one of my larger earthenware training pots, I need to thicken the base. My own fault, I skipped that part in Bonsai Today.

Here are the issues that have the JBP information.

[1] BT 2   pg.58 short needles
[2] BT 12 pg.20 growing pines from seed - this is the one that shows how to rapid grow a JBP.
[3] BT 10 pg.25 pinching and pruning
[4] BT 20 pg.39 For small Black Pines - from seed and for cascades [ I use this one for roots of other trees that can resprout all over the root - serissa or malpighia punicifolia for example - the cascade information.]
I haven't added in the latest one.

All dates have been saved.

I am sure all of this is in the Book on Pines by Stone lantern.
Thanks again.