The decandling season is starting earlier than normal for me this year. I’m looking to prepare a few trees for an exhibit in September but the pines in my garden usually grow through October and into November. By decandling early, I can increase the odds that a tree will look good in September at the expense of it looking slightly overgrown by the end of the year. (See “Overview of decandling” for details.)
Here’s one of the trees that needs to be decandled early. It’s growing well following a big bend and repotting in January.
Cascade black pine
In addition to decandling, I want to thin branches that split into three shoots by selecting two to keep and one to cut. Here’s what that process looks like.
Branch with three spring shoots
Although it’s hard to tell from the photo, the shoot on the left is the smallest of the three. The two on the right are about the same size.
Selecting a shoot to remove
After removing the smaller shoot
Next comes decandling – the removal of the spring growth.
Some needle-plucking followed. First the two-year-old needles were removed.
After removing the two-year-old needles
And then a few of last year’s needles were plucked.
After removing a few one-year-old needles
This still left about 12-15 pairs of needles per shoot. While the count is higher than I’d normally leave on a tree like this, the needles are relatively short and the branches aren’t very dense.
Here’s the tree after decandling, cutback and needle-pulling.
After decandling and thinning – 25″ from top to bottom
The next step – once a few more trees are decandled – is wiring.
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