JBP initial reduction question

Black Pine newbie here.

I’m in Los Angeles, where JBP never really stop growing, they just sort of slow down for the “winter.” I just got a JBP that was in a nursery can for at least 10 years, maybe closer to 20. The soil is thick and heavy.

I took about 1/2 the foliage off and the same amount of roots (most coiled in the bottom, probably the only place there is any oxygen in the thick soil.

Given that I certainly am putting the tree under a lot of stress until the roots can fill in the new, good, airy soil around the reduced root ball…

Should I still pluck needles down to 10-12 pairs on each shoot as ryan describes in his whiteboard discussion in the multi-flush pine stream? He says this is spring work that you would do on a new acquisition. My instinct is that I took enough foliage off already and I’d like to leave as much as possible to help regrow the roots. Also, there is not a huge imbalance in strength over the tree that needs correcting.

In the photos, the cloth covers a branch that will be removed later–same deal, I figured I should leave it so I don’t remove too much at once and to help the roots recover faster.




This is amazing piece of material and I would definitely wait a year to see tree’s response to the work you’ve done/it’s recover. Esp. cos you removed some roots where all the energy of pines is stored.
Give it some TLC now :slight_smile:


I would say let the tree recover. Looks like you have a pretty even distribution of needles on the tree right now. If you get good growth next year then you could probably reduce in the fall. Awesome tree btw!


Nice material, where’d you purchase?

One of the mentors I have is Roy Nagotoshi at Fuji Nursery here in Los Angeles. He teaches and has a nice selection of material, and has had these growing in pots for years. This one caught my eye (I’ve been looking for a pine like this for a long time), and it is my first non-shohin JBP.

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Great starter tree. I question why not leave the second low trunk/branch? Seems to me it makes this look more like a mountain tree smashed under years of snow than with a single trunk. Once gone cannot be replaced but can always buy another single trunk tree:wink:
Also should grow sacrifice branch if wanting any bigger trunk.

True if it was a maple tree @WLKeugene but here I see the removal of the lower branch beneficial for the trunk itself. I see it highlighted and it looks so gorgeous that it would be shame to put it ‘in a shade’ of that branch. Looks a bit older too.
But that’s my perception hence agree with style of the owner :slight_smile:

Whats up Keegan - I remember getting into the art and fighting the urge to prune, shape and reduce all the new material that I brought home. While I vote for leaving the bottom branch, let the tree recover and acclimate to it’s new environment for a least a year while you study how it grows in your garden. Looks like you’ve taken a lot of foliage off, and you’ve also taken it out of a #5 container into a colander, removing and disturbing the root mass considerably. The thing is, you don’t have a reference of what this tree looks like when it vigorous, and you really only want to work on vigorous material. From year to year, you’ll see your pines respond to seasons, even in LA, specifically summer dormancy or some heat stress, and you 'll know when its in peak health as opposed to just getting by - this will take a few years unless you work with a lot of pines. I live in Santa Cruz, but my back yard is a hot mirco-climate 6 months out of the year. After reading Jonas (Bonsai Tonight) blog I stared growing pines in colander. The problem is I cannot keep optimum moisture levels in the colanders; in my garden they dry out very quickly. I’m finding terra cotta or less open pots are working better for my pines in development, in my garden (I work full time, 2 kids and other hobbies). You may find this is not a problem, just something to be aware of - I lost a nice old pine the summer after I took 50% of the foliage of and 50% of the circled roots off the bottom during the previous winter. Although the tree was healthy and putting on new growth, it wasn’t vigorous enough for that kind of reduction. I didn’t know the difference because I did not have a point of reference as it was a newer tree.

Add top dressing to this pot, and you may want to add an additional colander or 2 to slow down evaporation this 1st year. I would not suggest removing more needle mass, you want the foliage you have to help develop a healthy root system.

Nice find, it’s already a great looking tree.

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Thanks for the stellar comments! I work from home, so keeping it watered is not a problem for me, which is a luxury for sure. I do think the root ball I left will hold water really well, and if I keep the surrounding soil watered properly, I’m expecting the tree to prefer that to the root ball where there is little oxygen.

I do plan to “do nothing” (but will fertilize) to the tree for the next year and see how it does. The idea would be to get it into a too-large bonsai pot next year. If it really does well, maybe remove half of the nursery soil next year and then the other half the next. I’ll just have to see how it responds.

Ryan often harps on pines needing more air, larger particle size, less Akadama, etc. then deciduous trees. But I hear the JBP like more water than most other pines. And, an even bigger BUT, he lives in the wet pacific northwest. Here in very dry and very hot Los Angeles, it seems hard to overwater anything in well draining bonsai soil. And things like Bald Cypress and wisteria simply can’t get enough. I use 40% shade cloth in the summer and it has helped a lot. But some of my shohin need water 3+ times a day when its 100º and 0% humidity. Last June 18th, when it hit 118º on my (all concrete) back patio, my bald cypress started to wilt and so I brought them into the house for a couple days. Brutal.

Re: the lower branch. For me it throws off the scale of the tree. I agree with @coffeecherry’s comments about it.

Thanks everyone for the comments!