Bonsai Tonight

Refining a black pine

Posted in Bonsai Development by Jonas Dupuich on December 20, 2013

One of my longer term projects has been a black pine grown in the ground at Lone Pine Gardens. It looks like a somewhat normal tree save for a few extraneous over-size branches. The large branch in the front is the new apex – the branch on the right is helping the trunk thicken.

Japanese black pine

Black pine – December 2013

Japanese black pine

From the right side – note how far forward these branches extend

After closer inspection of the base of the new apex, I figured it was time to remove the escape branch growing to the right.

Japanese black pine

After removing escape branch

Leaving the remaining escape branch intact will help the trunk continue to thicken while healing the wound left by removing the branch on the right.

With the main cutback done, I removed old needles from the remaining branches.

After cutback

After removing old needles

Close up

Close up showing something closer to the final silhouette

It’s possible that the new apex will reach the desired size in another year or two, at which time I can remove the last escape branch. In the meantime, I’ll let the tree grow so the apex can continue to thicken.

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10 Responses

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  1. Dirk said, on December 20, 2013 at 4:59 am

    wonderfull tree…

  2. Zack Clayton said, on December 20, 2013 at 5:51 am

    Jonas, how much will the trunk thicken in the pot? I always thought that once the tree is potted, that process essentially stops. I would think that would slow down the callousing of the branch scar also.

  3. John Demaegd said, on December 20, 2013 at 6:06 am

    It sure looks like you did everything right and will eventually be rewarded with a fine pine!

  4. Jonas Dupuich said, on December 20, 2013 at 7:34 am

    Good question Zack – I don’t expect a perceptible difference in most of the trunk, however, I do expect the base of the remaining escape branch to thicken and that’s the one bit I want to be bigger. In the past few years it’s gone from a new shoot to around an inch across which is almost the desired size.

    Callusing too is slower in the pot, but at some point there’s a line between branches that best develop (and scars that best heal) in the ground and those for which it makes sense to develop in a pot (e.g. I don’t need the tree to be in the ground to heal every tiny cut). Finding that line can be tricky – I’ll make a note to say more about that in the future.

    Thanks for the note!

  5. Gerald said, on December 21, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    (I was not able to comment on a previous posting- so I put it here. I wanted to ask where I might purchase black/red/white pine seed from Japan?)
    Thank you

  6. Lee Squires said, on December 22, 2013 at 7:17 am

    Hey Jonas – good looking tree. Did you grow it in the ground for awhile to get the trunk ? I’m working on 50 Nishiki now for the future


  7. Jonas Dupuich said, on December 22, 2013 at 11:08 am

    Hi Gerald – I don’t know of a good source for Japanese seeds. Could be a good question for

  8. Jonas Dupuich said, on December 22, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Hi Lee – the tree grew in the ground for around 10 years at Lone Pine Gardens. I dug it and have kept it in containers since.

  9. Adair Martin said, on December 23, 2013 at 7:20 pm


    Have you tried Boon’s technique of cutting escape branches off in stages? Making a V cut about half way through, and back filling with cut paste. Next year cutting another half, and finally cutting it off entirely the third year. I’m doing that on a JBP Boon and I worked on in Atlanta this summer.

  10. Jonas Dupuich said, on December 23, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    Hi Adair – I have removed branches over several years, it’s a great technique. I didn’t do it in this case because the branch in question wasn’t very big. Here are some photos of the technique: Thanks for writing!

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