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Growing and Caring for Bonsai Trees

Growing and Caring for Bonsai Trees

Bonsai - Japanese White Pines

Japanese White Pines (Pinus Paviflora) is one of the striking elements in a garden landscape. Very solid wood and harsh weather resistant. I happen to visit my relatives in downtown, it’s always amazing to admire the white pines in their backyard nearby.

Japanese White Pines (Pinus Paviflora) is one of the striking elements in a garden landscape. Very solid wood and harsh weather resistant. I happen to visit my relatives in downtown, it’s always amazing to admire the white pines in their backyard nearby.

Often seen as a dense, conical form when young, Japanese White Pine develops into a 25 to 50 foot tall, irregularly-shaped tree, with an equal or greater spread, and a broad, flattened canopy. The 1 to 2.5-inch-long needles are stiff and twisted, forming blue and green tufts of foliage at branch tips, and creating an overall fine texture to the tree's silhouette. The brownish-red cones are one to four inches long and persist on the tree for six to seven years. The needles grow in groups of five, so this tree is also known as "five-needle pine". During June, and sometimes up to mid-July depending on the climate and the specific characteristics of each plant, new shoots on pines should be cut back with scissors. These new shoots are buds that have become candles and have sprouted needles. The aim of pruning new shoots is to keep the lengthening of the branches under control, to encourage dormant buds to be roused and consequently to form dense, compact ramification, as well as reducing the length of needles.

Pinching Pines

The months of May and June are a period of intense activity in pines. If you want make a pine into a bonsai, pinching candles and pruning new shoots are absolute musts. If small branches are not slowed down, they will continue to grow longer in all directions, seeking out as much light as possible. They will then be impossible to make more compact in order to create foliage pads. The energy will then be concentrated around the thickest areas – the branches at the top of the tree and the ends of the other branches – as is the case for almost all plants, which will increase the energy in these spots, to the detriment of the thinner areas which will end up perishing. To reverse this tendency, you need to cut off a greater or lesser amount of the candles. 
The period to do this is difficult to establish a priori, because it varies according to the specimens concerned and the geographical region. What you need to remember is that, on vigorous specimens, candles should be pinched when they have developed adequately, to somewhere around 3 centimetres (an inch and a quarter). To pinch them back, take the candle between your thumb and index finger and cut it off, while gently twisting it. You should not use scissors, because if you do, the ends of the needles will turn black as they develop. When candles do not open all at once, you need to pay careful attention and pinch them all back bit by bit, as they develop.

Pinching candles on vigorous pines, using fingers and a slight twisting gesture.

Watering is very easy!

As with other Pines, good drainage is very essential.

Pruning and wiring

The root system should be pruned gradually in the course of repotting, so as to always leave a strong root system. Branch pruning and wiring should be done in late autumn, and the wire left on the tree for 6-8 months at most. Pinch new shoots in spring to 1/3 of their length. Every 1-2 years it is possible to remove all of the new shoots in late spring, if the tree is healthy and well fed. This will result in buds forming in the fall at the sites where the shoots were removed. The reason this might be done is to form very short internodes on the branches.


Interesting Books on Bonsai can be found here:

The Complete Book of Bonsai --> I've been into bonsai for 25 years and this is the basic Bible for beginner and intermediate bonsai enthusiasts. It has an excellent section on techniques, including pruning, wiring and whatnot, and it has a large species-specific tree guide. If you're into bonsai and want only one book, this is it.

Indoor Bonsai The Great Selection --> Creating beautiful, healthy bonsai is a wonderful skill that anyone can learn, with a little time, patience, and this all-inclusive manual. With color photos and drawings to illustrate the points, it introduces all the cultivation techniques; offers expert advice on location, soil types, watering, and pest control; and provides intricate instruction on training the bonsai--including pruning, wiring and stretching it.

The Secret Techniques of Bonsai --> In The Secret Techniques of Bonsai, the author of the groundbreaking Bonsai With American Trees teams up with his son to offer not only the basics for creating perfect bonsai, but also secret techniques they’ve developed over years of careful work and observation.

Bonsai Survival Manual --> Problem solving when your Bonsai get sick. Expand your gardening repertoire as you create a captivating and exquisite miniature world. In this introductory guide, Colin Lewis covers everything you need to know to design, grow, and successfully maintain attractive bonsai.

Bonsai and the art of Penjing --> Bonsai & Penjing, Ambassadors of Beauty and Peace describes how Chinese penjing and North American bonsai were later added to the Museum, making its collection the most comprehensive in the world. Stories of individual trees and forest plantings are featured, as are the roles played by the skilled and talented creators of these living art forms people such as John Naka, Saburo Kato, Yuji Yoshimura, Harry Hirao, and Dr. Yee-Sun Wu.

Bonsai with Japanese Maples --> With their delicate foliage, seasonal color changes, and intricate pattern of branching, Japanese maples are among the most popular and suitable plants for bonsai design. In this long-awaited book, internationally renowned expert Peter Adams discusses both the specific horticultural needs of Japanese maples as bonsai subjects and illustrates proven techniques for creating and maintaining beautiful specimens.

The Modern Bonsai Practice --> The most current, useful information on growing Bonsai. Fresh, practical, definitive, comprehensive reference guide to the finest art of horticulture: growing miniature trees. Common sense bonsai answers separating myth from fact with depth and detail. Appropriate for both bonsai hobbyists and experienced practitioners.

More Bonsai articles can be found here:

Please click here for more information on --> Chinese Penjing Bonsai
Please click here for more information on --> The Origins of Bonsai
Please click here for more information on --> The Art of Saikei Bonsai
Please click here for more information on --> Japanese Tanuki Bonsai
Please click here for more information on --> How to Water a Bonsai
Please click here for more information on --> Bonsai Healing Methods

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