Bonsai Study Group Forum

Species Specific => Japanese Black Pine Bonsai Discussion => Topic started by: MatsuBonsai on May 04, 2011, 10:44 AM

Title: Japanese Black Pine and logic
Post by: MatsuBonsai on May 04, 2011, 10:44 AM
It was pointed out to me recently that JBP care can be somewhat tricky and confusing.  It was further conveyed to me that short answers (of which I am guilty of giving more often than not) often compound the confusion, as the nuances are often lost.  To me, JBP is no longer confusing, but can still be somewhat tricky.  Before doing anything you must ask yourself why?  What am I trying to accomplish?

I deal in logic every day, and think best in logical ways.  JBP care has almost become second nature to me, and I no longer give it such detailed thought.  However, I thought I might try to put together a diagram of the types of thoughts and decisions I make when following several of the distinct practices for JBP.

This should (hopefully) give you some idea of what goes through my head (scary, I know).


Mid April
So, it's mid April and optimal time (for me, in my location) to pinch back overly long candles.  Let's start at the top of the tree and work our way down.



Should I pinch?
Do I want to extend this branch or apex?
Yes
No
Is the growth too strong already?
Is the growth too strong already?
Yes
No
Yes
No
I may pinch to roughly the length I wish it to be, careful to leave plenty of needles below the break
Leave it for now
I may pinch to roughly the same length of the next strongest group, careful to leave plenty of needles below the break
Leave it for now




Rinse and repeat the evaluation process every few days until the end of the April.  This will likely be the time when the needles will begin to open slightly, too late to pinch.

Please note, regardless of the tree's stage of development I still evaluate each candle, each branch, and it's relative strength, it's height, it's location.  JBP are apical dominant.  Further, the interior buds tend to be weaker as well.  All of this must be taken into account when caring for JBP.

See?  Easy!  :)

I know that it can get overly complex very quickly, but it's just a matter of thinking it through and doing what you think to be correct.  If you try something and you don't get the results you were hoping for, think it through and adjust accordingly.
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine and logic
Post by: MatsuBonsai on May 04, 2011, 10:51 AM
Naturally, too, you will want to take into consideration the stage and development of the tree in question.  The process is relatively the same for an older, more refined tree with 3/4" candles as is for a relatively young seedling that you're growing out, with 18" candles (on top). 

This is when it's important to think about the future.  If you allow that leader candle on the seedling to grow, it will inhibit those tiny dormant buds at the base from growing.  This may be ok if you're after big/think massive trees.  If you're after shohin, however, you will want to trade off from time to time the big coarse growth, and perhaps pinch and/or even decandle every 2-3 years to stimulate back budding.

For the more mature trees, hopefully pinching won't be too much of a guessing game for you.  These should be more refined, and energy balanced.  A few rogue candles will likely need to be pinched, but with proper candle and needle management you should be able to get the tree in pretty good balance.
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine and logic
Post by: MatsuBonsai on May 04, 2011, 10:52 AM
Don't over think it.  But, when you do give it some though, think it through, keeping in mind your ultimate goal, and what it is you're trying to accomplish, and the steps you will need to take to get there.
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine and logic
Post by: MatsuBonsai on May 04, 2011, 10:58 AM
So, what about mid June, time to decandle (for me, in my location)?

Well, I've posted about that before (http://bonsaistudygroup.com/japanese-black-pine-discussion/japanese-black-pine-decandling-techniques/), too.

Timing is important here, too.  For larger trees, decandle early, allowing the needles to grow longer, for better proportions.  For smaller trees, wait a little longer, for shorter needles. 

For seedlings, young trees, trees in development, that tiny branch you're trying to thicken to be more in proportion with the rest of the tree?  It may mean that you skip decandling that branch, that apex, that tree all together.

Again, what are you trying to accomplish?
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine and logic
Post by: MatsuBonsai on May 04, 2011, 11:03 AM
What about fall work? 

For me, around mid to late October and into November I will typically go in and cut back to two buds and start pulling old needles.  For more refined trees I'll pull some of the needles as well.

How many needles?  Well, again that depends on what I'm trying to accomplish.  More needles means more energy will be pumped into the Spring buds.  Keep in mind the size, health, and zone of the particular cluster you're working with.  Remember, you can always finish the needle pulling in late Winter, say mid to late January or February.

JRob asked a similar question with some good thoughts posted, here (http://bonsaistudygroup.com/japanese-black-pine-discussion/plucked-jbp/).
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine and logic
Post by: MatsuBonsai on May 04, 2011, 11:05 AM
The techniques are distinct to JBP, but the premise and thought process translate well to all trees.
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine and logic
Post by: John Kirby on May 04, 2011, 12:34 PM
Very nice.
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine and logic
Post by: Larry Gockley on May 04, 2011, 01:29 PM
Very nice indeed. Thanks for posting John. That's a good point about trimming down to two buds in the fall. Let the wagon wheel of buds grow to add energy to the tree, and select the two you want for either size or growth direction in the fall, right?  Just wondering, how many growth periods do you get a year in your location? I got two growth periods, spring and late summer in deep south Texas. Here in east Texas, I expect the same. Thanks. Larry
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine and logic
Post by: garywood on May 04, 2011, 01:46 PM
John, very good post.
Wood
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine and logic
Post by: bwaynef on May 04, 2011, 03:27 PM
Let the wagon wheel of buds grow to add energy to the tree, and select the two you want for either size or growth direction in the fall, right?

I've always understood it to be an additional means of balancing energy.  If you reduce to 2 buds after the summer decandle, those remaining buds get all the energy that would be spread across 3-5.
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine and logic
Post by: MatsuBonsai on May 04, 2011, 06:18 PM
Let the wagon wheel of buds grow to add energy to the tree, and select the two you want for either size or growth direction in the fall, right?

I've always understood it to be an additional means of balancing energy.  If you reduce to 2 buds after the summer decandle, those remaining buds get all the energy that would be spread across 3-5.

Well, yes and yes.  When the tree buds out after decandling you can select 2 buds to keep, removing the rest.  These 2 will grow stronger than they would have if they had to compete with others.  Conversely, if all buds were left on they may be smaller, but the increased number of buds will add energy to the branch/tree, especially where they emerge.  Care must be taken to avoid the area growing too strongly and forming an unsightly knuckle.

Again, this knowledge can be used to your advantage, if understood and used correctly.
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine and logic
Post by: MatsuBonsai on May 04, 2011, 06:21 PM
This is all under the assumption that the tree is healthy and growing strongly. 

I use Boon's soil mix (akadama/pumice/lava).  I water thoroughly in Spring.  I fertilizer well the Fall before all this work, and fertilize AGGRESSIVELY in Spring.

By timing of fertilization at and around the time of decandling growth (needle length) can further be controlled.  Another advantage to using (removable) fertilizer cakes.
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine and logic
Post by: akeppler on May 05, 2011, 12:10 AM
This is all under the assumption that the tree is healthy and growing strongly. 

I use Boon's soil mix (akadama/pumice/lava).  I water thoroughly in Spring.  I fertilizer well the Fall before all this work, and fertilize AGGRESSIVELY in Spring.

By timing of fertilization at and around the time of decandling growth (needle length) can further be controlled.  Another advantage to using (removable) fertilizer cakes.

Thinking in logical terms, and useing a little science about how organic fertilizer works, it would seem to be more logical to use a chemical fertilizer months before sudden stopping is necessary. Organic fertilizer takes months before it is usable and is working for weeks possibly months after removing from the soil surface......
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine and logic
Post by: MatsuBonsai on May 05, 2011, 06:57 AM
The results I'm seeing seem to indicate otherwise.  Your mileage may vary, of course.  I'm just reporting what works for me.  Feel free to share your own experiences.
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine and logic
Post by: Billkcmo on May 05, 2011, 07:38 AM
No matter how much I read I always learn something.  For years i tried to do what I thought they were telling me  to do and now I have many JBP's   Some good and some bad.   Thanks
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine and logic
Post by: boon on May 05, 2011, 11:58 AM
using combination of Boon mix and organic fertilizer, the tree can absorb nutrient.  the branches are more flexible.  i use about 10% miracle grow or miracid or peter's during growing season.  i use a lot of differnt kind of organic fertilizer. 

but i stay away from animal waste base.  it create too much heat and acid in bonsai container.

from over 15 years experience as full time professional, the tree that only receive chemical fertilizer, the branches are brittle.  it also takes longer to recover from stress.
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine and logic
Post by: boon on May 05, 2011, 07:50 PM
John,
i forgot to mention.   you have done a great job on this article.
Boon
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine and logic
Post by: MatsuBonsai on May 05, 2011, 08:06 PM
Thanks Boon, that means a lot. 

I was going to entitle the post "Japanese Black Pine simplified" but, well, it's not really simple, I guess.  :)
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine and logic
Post by: jferrier on May 11, 2011, 03:13 PM
Thanks for all the great  info. I'm wondering, when is the best time to graft small branches on to a JBP?
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine and logic
Post by: MatsuBonsai on May 11, 2011, 08:50 PM
The best/easiest time (with the greatest chance of success) is in very early Spring, just as dormancy breaks.  Read more: Grafting using Parafilm (http://bonsaistudygroup.com/advanced-grafting-discussion/grafting-using-parafilm/), Grafting for Bonsai (http://bonsaistudygroup.com/advanced-grafting-discussion/matsu-bonsai-study-group-grafting-for-bonsai/), and Japanese Black Pine Approach Graft (http://bonsaistudygroup.com/advanced-grafting-discussion/japanese-black-pine-approach-graft/).
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine and logic
Post by: Treebeard55 on May 14, 2011, 11:07 AM
Thanks for posting this, John. The thread title is certainly attention-catching, and that's a good thing, because your posts are worth reading.

Even tho I've been doing bonsai for most of the last two decades, I never took much interest in pines until 2-3 years ago. So on some aspects of proper pine care, I'm still filling in the gaps! Frequently feel like a newbie when it comes to pines, embarrassed to reveal my ignorance. (And yes, that feels a bit ironic sometimes.)

The Pine Study Group on Bonsai Vault was very helpful, until the Study Groups were discontinued.

Thanks again.  :)
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine and logic
Post by: BONSAI_OUTLAW on May 14, 2011, 03:46 PM
It would seem like since the key players from the Pine Study Groups now frequent this board that it would be a good thing to have here. 
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine and logic
Post by: MatsuBonsai on May 14, 2011, 05:10 PM
We're all here to learn.  No sense in keeping your questions/answers to yourself, as others may miss out on the information they're looking for.  This is, after all, a discussion forum.  ;)
Title: Re: Japanese Black Pine and logic
Post by: Treebeard55 on May 14, 2011, 09:36 PM
It would seem like since the key players from the Pine Study Groups now frequent this board that it would be a good thing to have here. 

I didn't realize that there are that many of us here. Hmmm. Maybe it's something to ask the admins about.

At least with the level of pine knowledge I've seen, John Kirby wouldn't have to teach the Pine SG if he didn't want to.