The term decandling gets a lot of attention. Rightly so – it’s a key technique in the development of black and red pine bonsai. It’s the technique that helped me get from here:
in three years.
By itself, however, the technique is fairly limited. Cutback and needle-pulling are equally important to pine development, though these phrases leave less to the imagination. We know how to cut and we know how – and often wish to avoid – needle-pulling.
Without removing selected branches and thinning needles, decandling alone leaves us with impossibly full trees.
June, 2016 – after decandling
I say impossibly full because while it’s clearly possible to make a tree look like this, it would be impossible to maintain this silhouette and branch density by decandling alone.
I find decandling – simply removing spring growth – to be fun and easy. The various approaches and techniques require some practice for optimum results, but the cutting part is straightforward.
I find cutback and needle-pulling satisfying. Knowing that interior buds are getting adequate light feels good. Knowing that I’ve done my part to balance the tree’s vigor also feels good. I’m free to wire the tree at this point, or simply put it back on the bench for the next few months. But more about needle-pulling next time.
Subscribe to Bonsai Tonight
New Posts Delivered Every Tuesday and Friday