Mugo pine design critique please

Critique please!
My first proper wiring job following proper “Mirai” principles.

As you can see from the before pics, this mugo didn’t really have any particular shape or style.

I Picked a bloody hard tree to start with because this tree has such long spindly branches. Especially in contrast to the trunk thickness.

I’m not 100% satisfied with the wire application. I made a lot of mistakes resulting in heavy application in places. I will redo next year after some growth.

I managed to get a significant defining branch stretched out low and to the left.

I had to lose the lowest left branch because the bottom was resting on the ground and it was ridiculously long with growth only on the tips.

I also pulled the apex together to the left in harmony with the flow of the trunk

I really had to snake the branches to pull them in and form a pad because they were so long. Hopefully when I get some interior growth, I can reduce the length.

I really need to encourage some interior growth and hope I can get a bud to fill the upper right shoulder.



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I’m new to posting on the forum, but don’t you want the top two (maybe 3) branches that you’re using as an apex to sweep downwards and match the angle of the other two branches beneath them? It also seems like it would be favorable to the design to remove the bottom right branch because it can’t match the angle set by the other branches (unless it’s there to keep the trunk thickening).

You did far better untangling that tree than I could so I don’t mean to criticize, but I think those are some of the design concepts I’ve seen in Mirai videos that stuck in my head.

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Critique welcome.

Removing the branch on the right would leave the tree too bare. I know what you mean about the angle though, that bit is bugging me too

As for lowering the bottom branch from the apex, there is not enough growth on it at the moment with only one needle cluster so looks silly.

Maybe once it fills out more I can lower it

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I like the tree, so please don’t think that I’m coming off as being mean. These are things I would do if it were my tree. Sadly, my mugo doesn’t look good. I did a poor job in picking it, but I don’t run across conifers much where I am and got impulsive lol.

Given the size of the trunk the branch on the left feels way too big. Idk if mugo back buds or not. If it does, I would work towards building up that interior and eventually cutting back to developed interior branches. There’s a lot of negative space between the left branch and the apex. Idk how you’ll fill that out. Perhaps try to drop the movement of the apex a bit to the left. That will give you a harmonious design. The right branch will be pivotal if you go that way as it balances out the movement to the left.

Again, just saying what I would do. The tree looks nice and healthy and the candles look great. It’s going to be a cool bonsai no matter what you do.

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Thanks and no offence taken.

What you outline above is exactly what i intend to do.

If you look at the original tree, all the growth nodes are at the tips of very long branches (long spindly internodes). I don’t know why the original owner went this way, but those are the cards I was dealt :smiley:

In order to make any short of shape, I had to snake and pull those nodes in to the edge (see top view) I have pulled the foliage in as close to the trunk as I can.

My hope is exactly as you mentioned, that some interior growth develops so I can pull the foliar mass into the trunk.

I’m going to try the telperion farm approach next spring. Leaving the new candles, and removing the old growth by needle plucking, and hope that generates some back buds.

I also tried moving the apex over more as a harmonious design was my goal… but the ally wire I used doesn’t have the strength to hold it.

I will try again next year with copper. I’m hoping I have created enough foundation to correct later

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Are you going to plant the tree in the ground to do the Telperion method for back budding? I think I remember Ryan saying that’s a method that works in field conditions but necessarily with potted trees. My guess is that your best bet to get back budding is the method Ryan promotes: heavy feeding all growing season, no candle pruning until back buds are present. Then, the year after the back buds have formed you candle prune (after they’ve hardened off) to redirect energy to the back buds to activate them and promote interior growth.

Then to your tree. I, on the other hand, really like the lower right hand branch, the rise at the beginning doesn’t bother me at all, I see it as a feature. And the branch is dropping nicely after that initial upward kink.
Other than that, I agree with what @Bonsai_Bentley said. I also think the left branch is too thick but hopefully that can be rectified once you get back budding. The large negative space between the apex and the left branch is the other big thing I’d change if it was my tree. As Bentley suggested, I’d try to drop the apex down on the left hand side to close the gap. This might not be possible to do now, but over time I’d try to achieve that objective.
All in all, you have a really nice tree to refine over the years! The trunk has really great movement and you have branches in good places. I look forward to updates of how this tree develops over the coming years.

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Great feedback thanks!

I think I will try Ryan’s method first then and if that doesn’t work, then maybe I plant it in the ground.


Made a little tweak following your suggestions

Just need girth now

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Easy for me to say, but I feel like there’s a cool tree to be had using just the first right-hand branch…


You mean like this?

I do like it you know…

I think the only issue is the branch is so long if I un snake it into a more typical fan shape

Plus it would be a tiny tree and I much prefer larger trees

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I do like small trees :slight_smile:

It’s your tree, I respect your choices :sweat_smile:

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Huh, when I first read “only the right branch” I was like “nope”, but it actually does look good. I too prefer larger trees though.

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This tree as a great flared base and nebari and cutting it down to this will maintain the correct proportions.

I will keep it as a back up plan if I can’t get it to back bud


I have a couple of dwarf mugo that I don’t think are ever going to be what I want them to be. Perhaps I can make those small trees in a similar fashion…or just plant them and be done with it. :man_shrugging:t5:

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It is a nice tree now. Patience…
The only thing I would do is listen to Mirai’s fall single flush short needle video. Do what you can now to set up for next spring.Two springs from now, the tree will be completely defferent! Follow up with the spring and summer bud/shoot care. Oh ya, organic fertilizer…
Mughus will bud back to the trunk. I’m being over run with buds this year…

Possibly consider bring down top left branch even further to match angle of 2nd right branch and shortening big left branch about 20%? Also using small twig just above afore mentioned upper left branch as back branch as they seem absent otherwise:wink:.

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