Sometimes the reasons why we decandle pine bonsai can get lost in the discussion of how we decandle. In short, decandling is the single-most important technique used to develop beautiful pine bonsai.
Black pine exhibited at the 2011 Taikan-ten
Why decandle red and black pine bonsai?
- To stimulate back budding. The stress caused by removing spring growth can activate dormant or adventitious buds on woody growth. Back buds – buds that develop not at the ends of branches but from within the tree’s interior – allow us to maintain the size and shape of our trees. Without them, bonsai would grow larger and larger each year.
- To increase branch density. Decandling adds density by replacing single spring shoots with multiple summer shoots. Decandling further increases density by stimulating adventitious buds at the base of spring candles – barren areas that don’t typically produce buds. And as summer shoots are usually smaller than spring shoots, internodes are further reduced yielding more refined ramification.
- To regulate vigor. Decandling is a useful technique for keeping new growth on pine bonsai in check.
- To promote balance. Various decandling techniques can be used to decrease vigor in strong areas and increase vigor in weak areas to improve overall balance.
- To reduce needle size. Red and black pine bonsai are at their most beautiful when the needle size is a good fit for the tree. Decandling can let us produce short needles on small trees and larger needles on larger trees.
Up next week – how to prepare trees for decandling.
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