Decandling season, typically late spring through early summer, can entail a lot more than removing spring growth from pine bonsai. It’s also a great time for removing extra needles, light cutback, and even wiring. Because the timing of the decandling is of some importance, I usually decandle my trees at the appointed times and then fit in whatever needle pulling, cutback and wiring I can manage. For me, that means decandling on the weekends and pulling needles after work.
In preparation for a recent Bay Island Bonsai workshop, I decandled the weakest tree in my red pine forest 10 days ahead of the workshop (see “Decandling season arrives“). I decandled the rest of the spring growth as planned in the workshop.
Pre-workshop preparation – decandling the weak tree on the left
Decandling the other trees at a BIB workshop
To further reduce the tree’s vigor, I started removing excess needles. I left weak areas – and the weak tree on the left – alone, and removed all but a handful of needles from the stronger shoots. The result is a pretty bare-looking tree.
After removing extra needles
I’m doing the same thing for a number of my pines. After decandling, I pull needles. And if I have time before summer buds develop, I’ll wire as many branches as I can.
Black pine after cutback-decandling
Black pine after removing excess needles
Of course, I have yet to decandle, let alone pluck, let alone wire, my smaller pines. I’ll decandle these in early July and then pluck and wire until the summer buds develop. And if I don’t finish all of the plucking and wiring, I can always wait until fall.
To be decandled – and plucked? and wired? – in early July
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