So, what if I’m somewhat new to bonsai and I think I have a tree that could benefit from decandling but I don’t know where to begin? Easy – keep it simple. If you’re having trouble finding a starting point and there are no decandling pros in the area, try the following:
- Remove all new shoots on June 15
- Don’t leave stubs
- Leave no more than 10 pairs of needles per branch
That’s it – for now. By taking a simple approach, you can learn how your tree responds to the decandling and you can begin making adjustments the following year. Is the summer growth too weak? Try feeding more, decandling earlier, or waiting until the tree is healthier before decandling again. Is the summer growth too strong? Try decandling later or removing more needles. Is the summer growth unbalanced? Feel free to experiment with the various techniques for controlling vigor.
Unhappy or completely surprised by the results? Take heart – many pines respond unpredictably to the first few decandlings. Red and black pines often settle into a pattern with 3-5 years.
Black pine on display at the 2011 Gomangoku exhibit
Still have questions? Ask away or take part in one of the many active bonsai forums like Bonsai Study Group – experts are standing by now to help! Up next: Decandling aftercare.
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I’ve been following your posts on handling pines with great interest.
There’s one points that kind of bugging me :
You wrote : Remove all new shoots on June 15
Could you translate that in terms of seasons ? Early winter? mid winter? late winter?
June 15 = mid winter where I live = mid/late summer in some places in Europe.
When you are writing June 15th what season are you implying ?
Thanks in advance
Jonas Dupuich says
Hi Xavier – and apologies to the Southern Hemisphere! Decandling happens at some point after spring shoots harden off, typically just ahead of summer solstice or a bit later if you live in a particularly warm climate. See “When to decandle” for details about timing and adjust the calendar for your area. And if anyone in your area has experience decandling pines, see if they have good advice to share.