Summer Sessions: Japanese Black Pine Needle Reduction 2019

Welcome to Appalachian Bonsai. Today, we’re going to be talking about some needle reduction techniques for a Japanese black pine I learned this technique from the Bonsai Learning Center of Charlotte, North Carolina I’m gonna leave the information for that website down in the description below. Japanese black pine has a very interesting way to produce new buds when pushed under stress. I say that because I’m about to put this tree under a lot of stress. Therefore, this tree needs to be extremely healthy before we perform these techniques. The specific technique I’m going to be doing is taking off most of the needles of this tree.
Now, part of this technique which will not be seen today is the removing of all the candles from this tree. I did that in early June, which is part of the Northern Hemisphere’s timeline for this technique. So, it’s gonna be late for everybody watching this video as it’s put out. but, Japanese black pine has the ability to produce two flushes of buds within a year. This is not the case for all other pines. So please be careful whenever you try this technique. Do not try this technique on pines that are not 2 or 3 needles. So 5 and 7 needle pines will die if you perform this technique on them. In the first week of June, I removed all of the candles from this pine. Every one of them right at the base from where they first grew. This is something that’s very unusual about the black pine. It will have the ability to produce new buds this year. Now it has to produce new buds. Otherwise, it won’t have new needles for the following year, which is important for the health and the life of this tree. The black pine can handle this. So when you reduce them all the way down to the base, they will put out new buds. Whenever they elongate, they will elongate shorter because they don’t have enough resources and they don’t have enough time to get longer. What we’re also going to do is we’re going to remove the majority of the needles from this tree which allows a lot of light in here. This can help the tree produce more buds as well as produce back buds. What I mean by back budding is that the tree will produce buds further back down the branch and this will allow us to ramify the structure of this tree To balance all of this out, we’re going to be doing this in phases. So again, as I said at the first of the month, I reduced all of the candles completely to nothing. TO NOTHING! Within a couple of days of doing that I came to all of the lower branches and I reduced each little cluster of needles to about two or three at the very tips. So as you can see here, I’ve only got a couple of needles coming out from each of these tips. I have a tip here, And I have a tip here and a tip here and a tip here and only a couple of needles are left. That’s the same on all of these One week later. I came in and I reduced all of the needles from about the middle of the tree. And so again, we can see that we are missing the majority of needles from this section from this section from all of these little tips There’s only about two or three needles.
Now that it’s the third week of June, I’m going to reduce the rest of them from the top. What I’m doing is I am allowing these bottom branches to callus over, to produce new buds, and to allow those buds to elongate before the top does, and this will balance the amount of energy that’s within the tree. Because this is apex dominant, it pushes all the energy up to the top leaving these lower branches weak. When we let the first branches, the weak branches, be pruned first they have a longer time to be able to heal, and to be able to produce new buds while the top continues to grow. When that top is finally cut, the rest of that energy is being filled into these branches that have already recovered. Therefore the balance of energy is complete. When the buds elongate, they will be approximately the same length around all of the tree. So, what I’m going to do now is remove all of the needle clusters from the top with the exception of two or three needles clusters towards the tips of each. I’m just doing this with my fingers. Just pulling these needles from the base. In little tricky spots I do have a pair of regular tweezers that I can use. You want to pull in the same direction that these needles are growing. You don’t want to pull down because you’re gonna rip the branch. And we don’t need any more damage done to these than what we’re already doing. So there! This particular branch has at its tip only two… three needle clusters and that’s it. Let’s move on to the next one. There! And that one only has one, two, three needle clusters. One, two, three. I have these down here at the base that should have been pulled last year. Never were. Again, three weeks ago, I came in and I pruned off every one of these candles from the top. Already, I have new buds. There’s one, two. One, two buds coming off of these. One, two, and then one, two, and three buds coming off of this one. You can see there’s new buds right here, here, and here. So that’s pretty much it for this needle reduction technique. In the fall time, the new buds will have elongated, the needles will have opened, and they will have hardened. New buds will be produced for next year. When that happens we can take off the rest of these old needles from last year and the tree will have a nice, clean, overall appearance with very short needles. Next year though, you will not perform this technique. You will only remove the buds that you don’t want down to one or two specifically two to continue forked branches. Then let it grow and recover its health. This is a very invasive very stressful technique to do on black pines. So, you should only do this every other year. As also mentioned before, this is specific to Japanese black pine and maybe a few other species of two or three needle pines. You cannot perform this technique on white pine or other five and seven needle pines. I hope you have enjoyed this video. If you want more information about Japanese black pine and needle reduction check out the Bonsai Learning Center of Charlotte, North Carolina. They have a lot of good information on their website that’s available for free. Follow me on Instagram @appalachian_bonsai
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