Author Topic: Japanese Black Pine Acidification  (Read 16236 times)

Chrisl

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Japanese Black Pine Acidification
« on: July 02, 2011, 01:01 PM »
Hello All,

My first post here.  This seems like a really well run forum with very knowledgable and nice people.  I'd classify myself still as a beginner though I've been doing bonsai for 20 yrs (based on results  :D  )

Anyway, I live in Chicago now, and had to start over on Black Pines as the two I had died in the move.  The water pH is 7.5.  I used a locally available bonsai soil (aggregates mainly) and I mixed in some peat moss when I repotted earlier this year.  My question is, do I have to acidify my water supply by saying using an Azalea chemical fertilizer, or something else?  Since it was new soil, I haven't fertilized it yet.

I'm just not sure how to acidify the soil and water supply in my pines, my two azaleas, and even I just learned, my japanese maples also like acidic soil.

Any ideas??

Thanks
Chris
 

MatsuBonsai

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Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2011, 02:37 PM »
Welcome!

Many of us on here choose to grow our JBP (and other bonsai) in purely inorganic soils.  The traditional Japanese soils or "Boon mix" are naturally slightly acidic.  Depending on where the latest debate is on soil vs water acidity is you may get different answers.  Regardless, inorganic soils seem to do well across the country as well as many other parts of the world.

The best option may be to find those in your area successfully growing JBP and what tips they may have for you regarding soil and water.  

My opinion, drop the peat moss, use tons of fertilizer in Spring, and quite a bit in fall.  I use mostly organic fertilizer with a mix of chemical from time to time.

Got any pictures?
« Last Edit: July 02, 2011, 02:40 PM by MatsuBonsai »
 

nathanbs

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Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2011, 04:27 PM »
i thought your post said Japanese Black Pine Addiction :) Sorry just wasting space no advice for you
 

Treebeard55

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Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2011, 08:31 PM »
Have to chuckle at Nathan's comment. There's an addiction you don't want to break ...

Might be useful too, to check out the pH they're used to in their native range and habitat.
 

Chrisl

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Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2011, 11:46 AM »
Thanks for the warm welcome John, and advice from you and Steve.  I appreciate any responses.  You're right about checking out local bonsai for conditions of best growth.  I just joined the Chicago Bonsai Society and went to their spring show.  Some beautiful bonsais that were just magnificent.  Right now, I'm awaiting my first meeting actually after the holiday.   You mentioned Boons soil, I moved out here from Berkeley never knowing Boon was in Alameda.  A wasted opportunity for me.  But his videos looked informative, and visual vs. a book, so I bought them both, on the JBP and JM.  Very very good job, and, I learned how to wire properly....though I am still trying to properly implement if I can say ;)

But anyway, you are suggesting an inorganic medium, and that upon itself, will provide an acidic enviroment in the roots, despite watering it with my high pH water supply??

Thanks again guys!!
Chris
 

Chrisl

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Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2011, 11:48 AM »
Oh, I can get a photo of the pine, which is still un styled from when I bought it at the Spring Bonsai Show.  But I don't know how to post a pic, nor have I uploaded any shots to a photo server to post before.  Can you give me some hints as to how to do it?  Thanks John!
Chris
 

MatsuBonsai

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Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2011, 11:53 AM »
But anyway, you are suggesting an inorganic medium, and that upon itself, will provide an acidic enviroment in the roots, despite watering it with my high pH water supply??

That's usually where the debate lies.  I will say that with my inorganic soil, mostly organic fertilizers, and local water often in the 8's I've seen no problem that would make me think pH problems for me.

How to post photos
« Last Edit: July 03, 2011, 11:58 AM by MatsuBonsai »
 

Chrisl

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Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2011, 01:37 PM »
Thanks John!  "Wow", pH of 8...boy thats basic!  It's good news to hear your success with inorganic media and organic fertilizers...same as the other John ;)  Browsing the forum I've seen some awesome trees by both of you guys, so I know it works. 

And Thanks for the photo link, I'll try to post a pic tomorrow....embarrassingly as it might be hehe
 

Chrisl

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Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
« Reply #8 on: July 04, 2011, 05:34 PM »
Here are some pics.  I just bought this in may and transplanted it in the wood box to help develop the trunk and nebari.  It was somewhat yellowed when I got it, it's looking much healthier now.  So I thought I'd give it till this fall to begin styling, and then put in ground.  After seeing all the fantastic trunks that you all have posted that were grown in the ground motivated me to give it a whirl.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2011, 05:40 PM by Chrisl »
 

mcpesq817

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Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2011, 12:05 PM »
Hi Chris,

I think the problem is that you have it in way too big a box for the size of tree.  I've found that even 100% inorganic mixes can stay too wet when in a container that is too big, particularly in the case of conifers.

 

Chrisl

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Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2011, 11:55 AM »
do you think it's too late then to give it it's first styling and put it in the ground now?  Or put it in a smaller  pot and put in ground this fall after a first style??

 

Chrisl

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Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2011, 11:07 PM »
Anyone??  I have the next couple days off and have time to work on this pine finally!  I've been really looking forward to styling this tree and getting it in the ground, whenever that might be.  It was decandled mostly in June.  But as you can see, it's really full and I'd like to thin it out a bit before putting in the ground.
Appreciate any help guys!

Oh, and mcpesq817, I forgot to say "Thanks" for the hint on the box.  I read how this works on Maple in Mr. Adam's book on Maples.  So I figured....wrongly ;) 
 

MatsuBonsai

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Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2011, 08:14 AM »
Transplanted in May, decandled in June, then wanting to repot or plant in the ground again this year?  Probably too much work for one year.  I would leave it then if you must, repot or plant next Spring.
 

mcpesq817

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Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
« Reply #13 on: July 07, 2011, 10:09 AM »
Hi Chris,

Sorry about not responding sooner - I checked BSG early yesterday morning and missed your reply.

You're correct that people use boxes, and I know that Adams talks about the technique in his maples book.  I think you have to remember though that conifers are different, with roots in my experience taking much longer to grow and colonize a pot.  I learned this the hard way when I planted a pretty good sized scots pine in a 100% inorganic mix into an anderson flat, which has perfect drainage underneath.  It was overpotted, and slowly died because the soil, even with the inorganic mix and the drainage provided by the flat, stayed too wet under the tree.  So for my pines and junipers, even if I am trying to grow them out a bit, I try and use a container that is not too much bigger than the root mass.

Here is a good article from Brent that addresses overpotting:  http://evergreengardenworks.com/earthpot.htm

As for your current situation, how tall is the box?  If it is very shallow, it might be ok.  If not, you can probably do a few things right now to reduce the soil volume and not disturb the roots.  One would be to remove some soil from the top of the box, taking care not to go too far and hit the roots.  Another alternative to reducing the soil mass, if your root spread does not come too close to the edges of the box, would be to remove the soil around the edges of the box and replace it with something like styrofoam that takes up space, is light, and not water retentive.  It's a bit hard from your pictures to see how overpotted your pine is, but these are some suggestions.  I certainly would avoid a second repot, as you've already put the tree through stress with the first repot and decandling in only the last two months.

Three other things - first, if the goal using the box was to grow the pine out, you probably shouldn't be decandling it.  Second, if I remember correctly, Boon and others recommend that you don't decandle pines in the year that they are repotted as it ends up being two insults to the pine (which are less hardy that way than deciduous trees).  In my experience, JBPs tend to put out shorter candles in the year that they are repotted anyway, lessening any need to decandle.  Third, I'm not sure that I would be putting peat moss into a pine soil mix - I've had good success going 100% inorganic.

Hope that helps.  I'm certainly no expert but these are a few thoughts I have had since working with JBPs over the last three years.

« Last Edit: July 07, 2011, 10:11 AM by mcpesq817 »
 

John Kirby

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Re: Japanese Black Pine Acidification
« Reply #14 on: July 07, 2011, 10:57 AM »
You can decandle and repot in the same year, just be more cautious as to the degree of work you do. If your tree has been on a regular decandling and repotting cycle, they should not miss a beat. Typically, we might decandle, wire, pull needles in the fall, repot in the spring and then decandle in the summer. The caveat is, the tree has to be growing strongly and be well fertilized, healthy, etc.

John