In my ongoing effort to develop interior buds on two of my black pines, I tried decandling them in fall almost two years ago. I decandled them again last year, and to really push these trees, I cut them back heavily after decandling. The result has been very vigorous growth and a number of new buds. Most of the new buds, however, appeared at the ends of the branches, close to where I cut last summer. To keep pushing for more interior buds, I decandled the trees again this year.
Black pine before decandling
Right side decandled
If the tree looks a little bare, that’s because it has almost no needles from last year. I cut more than a single season’s growth last year, so I ended up with nothing but fall shoots on the tree. I decandled this year’s spring growth near the base of these shoots, leaving little more than a few needles and protective bracts at the base of each branch.
I followed a similar approach with a second pine. Last winter I repotted the tree into a larger pot because I want it to become more vigorous. I plan to let some branches run for a few years to help thicken the top part of the trunk. I considered not decandling this year, but I wanted to preserve the basic structure that is already in place. As a compromise, I decandled all but a few branches so they can grow freely until the trunk reaches the desired size.
After decandling all but a few branches
If all goes well, the tree will look fairly strange in another year or two – about par for the course in my backyard.