Remove the new growth from your pine bonsai and you’ve decandled the tree. Within a month or two, new shoots like these will appear:
Summer growth – Japanese black pine
Easy enough. Place another pine on the turntable, pick up the scissors, and get started. How to make that first cut? I typically consider the following:
- How healthy is the tree? If the tree is not strong, I’ll try again next year.
- How much fertilizer did the tree receive in spring? I’ll only decandle if the tree has been fed heavily.
- Was the tree decandled last year? If so, did it come out strong? If not, I’ll wait.
- Large tree? Start decandling sooner.
- Small tree? Decandle later.
- Decandle in one day or over time? I usually decandle show trees and dramatically unbalanced trees over time.
Relative shoot strength affects my decision of when to cut, whether or not I leave a stub, and how many needles I pull. Along these lines, I ask:
- Am I working with big candles (stronger) or small candles (weaker)?
- Exterior growth (stronger) or interior growth (weaker)?
- Apical growth (stronger) or primary branch growth (weaker)?
- Are there many old needles (stronger) or few old needles (weaker)?
- Removing fertilizer slows new growth – leaving fertilizer in place after decandling gives summer shoots a boost.
- Over watering yields longer needles – less water yields shorter needles.
Even if I get everything right, the tree will still be subject to a final, and very important variable that is quite out of my control:
- Warmer summers produce stronger summer shoots.
- Cooler summers produce weaker summer growth.
Together, this great mix of variables contributes to the final result. Sometimes it’s pleasing, other times it’s disappointing. But as long as the tree remains alive, I’ll have another chance to get it right next year.
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