I’ve been growing black pines for a long time. My approach has been pretty consistent the past few years and I can dependably produce trees that look like the following after 2½ years.
2½-year-old black pine
This past year I made a small change to the process. Here’s the same 2½-year-old pine next to a 1½-year-old.
2½-year-old and 1½-year-old black pines
And this 1½-year-old wasn’t the biggest of the bunch.
The big change was using a bigger pot. Here are the two sizes I used this year.
4″ plastic pots
For the past few years I used smaller pots based a recommendation to limit growth in the second year to keep internodes small. Here’s the pot size I’d used until recently.
Small plastic pot
And here the three are together.
I typically use a 3-4″ pot in the tree’s second year as a transition between whatever they’re growing in during their first year and a 6″ colander – the usual pot I use once the trees have been wired for the first time.
Why the desire for more growth? The main reason is that I was curious to try something different. Pines can produce buds wherever there are needles so I know I have good options for future branches and/or sacrifice branches, and I’m pretty familiar with my options based on what I’ve been doing in recent years. This will let me try something new.
I can’t say I’m totally surprised that a bigger pot produced a bigger tree, but I am surprised that the size more than doubled in half a year.
Some may wonder if the1½-year-old trees above are actually older as there are three distinct areas of growth on the trees.
1½ year old black pine with low branches, long slender trunk, and branch divisions above
In general, my pines will grow 1-8″ the first year. In this case the tree only grew about 2″ – the spot where the low branches emerge.
This is the tree’s second year. In spring, the tree produced extensions of the lower branches and the long, straight trunk in the center. As vigorous, young, pines are likely to do, this tree sent out the top branches this summer – the tree’s second flush of growth for the year.
Am looking forward to seeing how these trees develop and whether they are better suited to making small, medium or large-sized trees. Will report back as I learn more.
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Once again thank you for this excellent article.
I do grow some pines too,and wondering if this difference is determined by pot size or seed genetic…
Richard Dorfman says
Been doing a similar experiment and have had similar results. How often do you transplant to a larger size pot?
Jonas Dupuich says
Hi Richard – good question. I typically repot once a year for the first few years, but I’ve gone as long as 3 years in the 3″ pots (which I don’t recommend). I generally try to repot as soon as the roots have filled most of the container.
robert gardner says
I have about nine Ponderosa Pines that I grew from seeds. They are now two years old really curvy as they came up. When will be able to apply wire to them
for more detailed training. This is the start of my 2000 year project.
Jonas Dupuich says
Hi Robert – the pines will be ready for wire when they’ve grown up a bit and are maybe pencil-sized in diameter.