Japanese White Pine
A pine needs
attention in order to succeed the growing of this specimen.
are growing in a variety of climates, it is important two
understand their needs as bonsais. This is a general
description and guideline to take care of the Pines as
bonsais. Please remark that attention must be taken into the
fact that different species of Pines needs different
conditions, according to the climate of the area they are
Full sun. Lack of light
will make the needles extend. Plenty of sun will keep the
Tolerant of low
temperatures down to 20 Ė 30 Celsius or lower, depending on
If not snow covered, keep
the trees from frosty winds, which will dry them out.
Donít let the Pine be too
wet. It is important to let Pines get lightly dry between
In the period when new
needles develop it is important to keep the Pine to the dry
side, in order to develop shorter needles. Keep the needles
from being too wet in this period.
Especially the Japanese
Black Pine is very sensitive to wet soil, and easily gets
root rod. In general it is extremely important to keep a
very well draining soil for Pines that allows the water to
sieve right trough the soil when watering. A well draining
soil will add gases to the roots, that is especially
important for Pines.
In springtime fertilizing
starts using a mild solution of 0-10-10 NPK. Until buds
begin to develop the strength of fertilizer is increased
with a normal fertilizer. I always use organic fertilizing
pellets like Biogold for this purpose.
When buds begin to swell,
the fertilizing should be stopped immediately, and being
withheld until the new needles are fully developed and
hardened. This is when the needles are dark green and feels
hard. The non fertilizing period will keep the needles
shorter. If you need extended growth on a week tree, skip
After the needle
development period, it is time to add fertilizers again.
In midd-autumn until end of
autumn, a 0-10-10 NPK fertilizer is used. This will
strengthen roots for the winter.
The soil used for Pines has
to be very well draining. Constantly wet soil will kill a
Use a very coarse soil with
grit, and Pine-bark added. Pine-bark will help the formation
of the helpful fungi called Mykhorriza. The fungi help the
Pine getting nutrients and water, and the Pine gives back
hormones to the benefit of the fungi.
My successful soil mixture
that is good for the climate in Northern Europe is:
25% Sphagnum, 25%
Pine-bark, and 50% grit.
In warmer climates Akadama
are very useful. Akadama is Japanese hard burned clay that
can be used where the air humidity is relatively high.
Every experienced bonsai
grower will over time develop their own recipes for a
successful soil, that should be adapted to climate of the
area the trees are living in.
As a ground rule Pines
prefer a deep pot.
There should be tree too
four years between the repotting of Pines. Young vigorous
specimens might be replanted every second year until growth
The roots of a tree develops slowly the
first year after repotting, and root pruning. The second
year the roots grows faster, and the third year the root
growth is at is strongest. After this year it is advisable
to repot and root prune in order to develop new fine roots.
The time schedule of replanting is also
taking into account that the soil mixture will be broken
down in a time scale of tree or four years, and needs to be
Always pay attention to the
well being of the tree. If it is week or seems to be too
slow growing without visible signs on the tree, it nearly
always has to do with the health of the roots. Simply replant the tree
immediately, and in the case of root rot it is strongly
recommended to plant the tree in pure grit.
It is important only to use
dry soil when replanting, in order not to press the soil too
tightly when replanting. After replanting is ended, the soil
should be watered thoroughly.
The time to prune depends
of which kind of Pine that should be pruned. In general it
is time to prune when your tree is in slow growth during
autumn and winter. This will prevent sap loss, which is
stressing the tree.
When pruning it is wise to
leave a small stump that will dry out during the next
months. This is done to give the tree time to find new ways
to lead the sap from the cutting area, and will leave back a
natural Jin/ dead branch.
Always use a sealer to
cover the wound after pruning, in order too reduce sap flow.
There are two kinds of
pinching. New candles are pinched back when they develops
during spring or early summer, and old needles are pruned or
pinched during summer or autumn. This is one of the more
demanding and difficult techniques of growing Pines as
bonsais, and a section on this website is dedicated too
explain the rules of pinching. A different specimen needs
The ideal time to wire
Pines is during winter. At this time the branches donít
thicken and the new buds are hardened, and are not damaged
as easily as during autumn. In autumn the Pine develops new
buds that are very fragile, and breaks of by just a small
An alternative time of year
to wire is in midd summer, after the new needles are
developed. Take care though, that branches is thickening
faster, and especially in autumn when root growth are
extended. A branch that is expanding will get scars from the
wire, and on Pines they might never disappear again.
Japanese Black Pine newly pinched to let sun and
air into the branches enhancing back budding.