While decandling is a great technique for refining red and black pine bonsai, knowing when to decandle is just as important as knowing when not to decandle.
When is decandling not appropriate for red and black pine bonsai?
- When the goal of training is to increase the size of the trunk. Let these trees grow until the trunk reaches the desired size before decandling.
- When a tree is unhealthy. Decandling is stressful for pines – only decandle trees that are healthy, vigorous and insect-free.
- When a tree is weak or under-fed. If otherwise healthy pine bonsai have not received adequate fertilizer in spring or have been weakened from stresses like repotting or inclement weather, take a break this year and decandle the following year when the tree is stronger.
Feel free to decandle when your red or black pine bonsai are in refinement phase, are healthy, well-fed, and growing in soil with good drainage. Following are some examples of when to decandle and when to hold off.
The trunk needs to develop – do not decandle (3 years old)
The trunk has reached the desired size – start decandling (9 years old)
The tree is entering refinement phase – decandle (15-20 years old)
The tree is in refinement phase – decandle (19 years old)
The tree is entering refinement phase – decandle (20-25 years old)
The tree is less vigorous than normal after repotting – do not decandle (35-40 years old)
The cork bark black pine is less vigorous than normal after repotting – do not decandle (40-50+ years old)
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