Large JWP advice

Hi all, I picked up a JWP recently that looks like it is grafted onto a black pine. Currently the needles are massive, I believe the tree has been sat in a corner for 5 years plus :cry:

Im looking for some advice on next steps for this tree, should I start working on reducing needle size over the years? Is it healthy enough. It looks like it also needs to back bud as branches are quite sparse. This year’s growth on bottom branches is only about 5mm and there are single buds on the tips. Should these be clipped now it’s hardened off?

Also, the trunk has a nice curve at the bottom, but after that the trunk is quite straight and then splits into two. Any feedback on if one of these trunks should be removed now.

Finally, any idea how old this tree might be?

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I see this is your first post - welcome to the community. My answer below may not be what you wanted, but I think it may be the best way to develop the tree.

With growth only at the tips I would think the tree is not ready for styling work. I would fertilize consistently this year and repot in the spring. The goal is to get even stronger growth that will promote back budding. You might clean out the top and bottom needles on the upper, stronger branches to get more light to the lower weaker branches to promote back budding as they gain strength.

I would remove one of the branches where it splits - keeping the one with the most branches/buds that are close to the split. I think this is going to be a bit of a project tree as it gains strength so you can use the lower branches. You might even end up cutting it back severely and wiring up branch above the lower ones to be a new leader to eliminate the straight section. I have an Austrian Black Pine from nursery stock that is similar and I am getting good back budding and a good bud what is left of a whorl about 30 cm above the base. It has been a 3 year project to this point and the top will be cut off next spring after it has contributed to a second repot from a box to a more suitable container.


I agree with Marty on this.
The tree is way to weak to be styled right now.
The only thing I’d do this year is fertilize it and if it has any bugs or other health issues, deal with it accordingly.
Next year maybe repot it if needed.
If you want backbudding you need to let it grow and gather strength.
For that straight part on the trunk, I see two options, you could try some notch cuts once it’s strong enough and getting rid of that biforcation and if that fails, cutting it back hard, maybe at the third brack to start a new leader.
As for age, that’s pretty much a guessing game since there are too many factors in play.
I’d say it’s at least 20 plus years old.
Good luck!

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Thanks, this is all great information. My main concern was if it was worth trying to save as a bonsai. Seems to have some potential!

Any pics of your black pine progress?

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I got it at an end of season sale in fall 2018. Here are the pictures from styling in 2020 where I cut off 2/3 of the lower branches, removed the up and down needles, and wired and todays picture which I did not bother to tilt. A rather large difference in budding and branching in one year (and a reminder that it needs a cleanup and rewiring).


Hi @Lunarbonsai,

This tree has great potential! With trees like this I feel like I’m always seeing the same move, which is to chop back to the lowest branch. Certainly let it get strong and maybe reduce in a couple of moves over the course of 2 years.
Making a chop like this will help you achieve the taper in the trunk that will really give this tree some age as well as put some meaningful movement into the trunk line.



I agree with the other comments you have a nice tree there and it would be best to take you time with it. As far as age it can be hard to tell but I would say a minimum of 15-20 years. Search the library for white pine and learn the very specific methodology for JWP.


I was thinking the exact same thing, @ryan.marin . Maybe stick it in a box and planted at a slant away from the first branch to give more movement to the trunk and make it easier to turn the first branch into the new leader. I’d do it in two or three chops, though, not all at once.

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I’d wedge cut before I did a major chop. If the wedge cut fails you have the option for the major chop as mentioned.

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@Lunarbonsai why do you think this pine is grafted?