I’ve been working on the black pine below for twenty years. Every year, near the end of May or the beginning of June, I remove the spring growth and reduce the number of old needles.
Japanese black pine
I typically begin the work by removing the spring shoots (decandling) before reducing the number needles on the tree.
Instead of plucking to a pre-determined number of needle-pairs per branch, I usually work on a small area of the tree until I see the density that I’m aiming for. In this case, I left about five needles per branch near the top of the tree and six-to-seven pairs on the lower branches.
Along the way, I removed small branches in crowded areas. I save most this work for fall, but enjoy making these small improvements mid-year as it can help refine the silhouette.
Here’s what the tree looked like after this work.
After decandling and thinning old needles – 16″
The silhouette is fairly well defined as the tree was lightly wired last year. I’ll make a plan for doing more significant cutback and wiring when I see how the tree looks this fall.
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