Balance is one of the top priorities when developing black pine bonsai. In spring, as new shoots elongate, it often becomes quite apparent which shoots are stronger than others.
Strong shoots near the apex of the tree
Strong shoots on the back of the tree
Although decandling is a very effective technique for balancing vigor on black and red pine bonsai, it’s not the only technique. By reducing the longest spring candles ahead of decandling, I can begin reducing branch vigor today.
This is the one pine technique that doesn’t require tools – I identify strong shoots and break them with my fingers.
After reducing the growth on a strong shoot
Depending on the strength of the shoot in question, anywhere between 1/3 and 2/3 of the needles on a shoot can be removed.
Do note that the timing of the shoot reduction is flexible. It’s best to do this work when the shoots are even younger, but it’s OK to do it later too. And as new shoots continue to elongate, I’ll continue to reduce the strongest of them throughout spring.