While repotting a batch of two-year old pines this past winter, John Eads and I paused to create a handful of miniature exposed root bonsai.
We hadn’t intended to make small trees, but when we found that the roots we were working with weren’t as good as we had hoped, we decided to make exposed root trees instead.
Now that the the spring candles are elongating, it’s time to reduce the new growth to reduce the trees’ overall vigor.
Here’s what this looks like.
Two-year old pine before pinching
After reducing the new shoots
By reducing the new growth I can encourage the tree to invest resources in the lower branches and avoid additional thickening along the trunk.
Removing a portion of the new shoots slows the tree down without stimulating the adventitious buds that I’ll want to encourage in June or July when it’s time to decandle the tree (see “Decandling black pine bonsai” for details).
When it is time to decandle, I’ll have several options for where to make the cut. Here’s another example.
Two-year old black pine
If I want to create a relatively long tree, I can removing the spring growth at decandling time as indicated by the scissors in the photo below.
Cut location 1 for making a relatively long tree
If I want to make a more compact tree, I can cut closer to the base of the trunk.
Cut location 2
Cut location 3 to make an even shorter tree
As long as there are healthy needles left on the tree after I prune at decandling time, I can expect to stimulate needle buds near the location where I cut (see “Stimulating back buds” for details).
I may opt to make the tree much smaller. If I go this route, I’ll cut here.
Cut location 4 to make a very small tree
The most compelling reason to make the tree so small is that the smaller the tree, the more I can highlight the exposed roots.
I have a couple of months to decide where to cut. In the meantime, I can pinch the long shoots and continue fertilizing the tree until June or July when it’s time to prune again.
Reducing the new shoots by hand
After reducing the new shoots
This technique works for big trees too. If you see extraordinarily long shoots on trees you plan to decandle, feel free to reduce new shoot length before the candles finish elongating.
News and Updates
The Bonsai Society of Portland is hosting “Farm to Table: Bonsai Development from Field to Show” next month on May 14th and 15th.
The event features lectures, demonstrations, critiques, and workshops that focus on core development techniques appropriate for field or container grown bonsai.
Many of the trees featured were grown at Telperion Farms by Chris Kirk, Lisa Kirk, and Gary Wood. Gary and the Kirks will be presenters along with Michael Hagedorn, Matt Reel, Andrew Robson, John Eads, and me.
A great selection of vendors will be on hand with field-grown bonsai and pre-bonsai, plus visitors will be able to see an exhibit of field and container grown bonsai in the final stages of development.
Registration for members and non-members is open now. See the Bonsai Society of Portland website for details.
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