Mugo pine fall design and timing

Hello everyone. No one in my local bonsai club has had success with Mugo Pines so I am glad you are all here.

I bought this Mugo from nursery stock in 2019, did a light pruning in fall of 2020. (You can see the scars from the cuts in the photo)

Had a nice repot in the spring of this year. I pruned less than 10% of the roots. The tree has grown well and is finishing the last of its third year leaf drop.

Would you feel safe removing the three left branches and doing an initial styling as a semi-cascade to the right? I plan on leaving the two largest pruned branches as larger Jin to help with the scaring.

Also, of the branches remaining on the right of the tree; I was thinking of using the first branch as the semi-cascade instead of the furthest branch to the right as it forms a junction of 3 and I worry about developing a knuckle there.

Most importantly, should I do it this fall?

I look forward to your feedback. Thank you in advance.

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Hi @ABrown,

This tree is great!
I have also had poor luck with mugo pine. In my limited experience they need to be handled slowly. Can you work this tree this fall after a repot earlier this year? Others will have to chime in on that, but from a design standpoint I like what you are proposing. Those branches on the left side look like they could make some really nice highly ramified jins.
Regarding the right side of the tree I would probably keep almost everything for the first styling. All that foliage will lay out nicely and produce a tree that looks pretty full and finished. I think if you thin that side you’ll end up with a pretty sparse tree. As the tree ramifies you can make some revisions to the structure without setting the tree back developmentally. What a fun project!




I would wait.

I have a good pine. Repoted in spring, grows very very well in summer. Stylend in Fall. Die died in winter.

I was so sure I was doing the right thing.

Next spring is the better time i‘am thinking.


Watch Mirai single flush pine videos…
NOW is the best time to do work on Mugu pines. Major trunk and bud decisions.
I WOULD start by cutting EVERY LIMB back to 2 strong or 3 weak buds. This includes the long branches, back to shorter bracnches.This will help push buds on older wood. This will also help reduce needle legnth in future. Fertilize NOW.
Decide NOW on the MAIN trunk line. Design a finished tree plan. Eliminate threes and fours. Maybe not ALL right now. A couple in each spot a year…Make a sketch or write it down. Plan on NOW and in in future.
It appears all of your limbs come from two junctions… maybe 4 if you squint. All of your limbs are way too long, unless your plan is for a LARGE tree. If that is the case, let one or two limbs just run crazy long, don’t trim or de-bud. Sacrifice branch in 3-4years. The whole tree WILL get larger faster.
Use cut paste.
I would reduce the roots by half next spring…
I had a 5 gallon mugu octopus. Trimed, pushed buds back. Repot. Trim, push buds back. Repot Trim, push buds back. Repot. Took 8 years and three repots to reduce the roots before I saw a trunk line I liked. Wired and designed last fall. Crazy healthy tree. 108 F, fried the roots this summer… RIP…
Also, if you are in a cold zone, I would REALLY protect that rootball above the pot. Heat reflective bubble wrap and mulching up to the neck! Especially below 25F.
Good luck.
Bonssi On!


I think that @KurtP has a good plan for the development, but that @shadowman25 has very good advice to wait a year to implement it. Particularly since the folks in your region have not had good luck with Mugo pine.

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