Generating new shoots on Japanese black pines is easy. If a healthy tree is pruned, you can expect lots of new growth.
Over time, however, crowded shoots can prevent light from reaching the tree’s interior. When this happens, the interior shoots we rely on for future primary branches can die off.
The best way to avoid this is to periodically thin trees in development. Here’s what this looks like on a young pine.
Last year I cut back and decandled several neglected exposed root pines in an effort to generate new branches (see “Cutback and decandling” for details).
After cutback and decandling
The tree grew well over the following year and is now quite full.
Although pruning the tree will slow the thickening of the roots, it will allow me to preserve small interior shoots I can use as the future primary branches.
Most of this work involved removing young branches from crowded areas.
Crowded area with many small shoots
In more developed areas, I created rudimentary pad shapes.
First branch on the right
Here’s what the tree looked like when cutback was complete.
Although it’s too early in the tree’s development to focus on wiring every branch, it’s a great time to set curves in branches I plan to keep.
After wiring – 20″ tall
I also exposed a few new roots by cutting away the top of the container.
After reducing the container
Most of the roots are still small so I plan to keep them covered until they thicken.
View from the front
Although I typically wait until late October or November to work on pines, I don’t hesitate to prune trees in summer that haven’t been decandled. I’d definitely wait if I only had a few pines, but as I have more than I can count on two hands (or twenty), I find that getting started early is a great way to start the fall season.
Subscribe to Bonsai Tonight
New Posts Delivered Every Tuesday and Friday