I recently picked up an eight year-old black pine growing in an Anderson flat. It had grown in the ground for several years and had been in the flat for the last one to two years.
8 year-old black pine
As you can see from the photo above, most of the vigorous growth is located far above the lower part of the trunk – the part I’ll use to create a small to medium sized bonsai.
Trunk of the future bonsai
Fortunately, there are a number of small shoots along the lower part of the trunk that can be used for future primary branches. To ensure these branches gain vigor, I reduced the more vigorous shoots above.
After cutting back the more vigorous growth and reducing the leader
It was also time to remove the section of trunk that died back after pruning last year. This growth had been used to thicken the lower part of the trunk. By cutting back to a smaller shoot, the grower was able to create taper and add interest to the trunk line. Here’s a closeup of the section to be removed.
The original trunk line
After reducing the trunk line to a small stub
The next thing I wanted to address was the tree’s health. The tree has been growing in a mix of expanded and unexpanded perlite. I wanted to repot the tree into a mix of akadama, lava and pumice.
I first removed the roots around the perimeter of the rootball and then bare-rooted half of the remaining rootball. The perlite fell away easily.
After reducing the rootball
After bare-rooting half of the rootball
I planted the tree in a colander as I want to encourage vigorous growth over the next few years while I develop the primary branches.
After repotting into a colander
And here’s a closeup of the lower part of the trunk.
The lower part of the trunk
I don’t know exactly where the apex will be at this point. For now, the focus is on developing healthy roots and strengthening existing shoots. I’ll revisit the tree towards the end of spring to see how it is doing. I expect to begin decandling the following year.
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