Nursery Ponderosa timing questions

Greetings! First post at Mirai. Trying to learn as much as I can, but the curve is steep.

It’s late spring now, and I think I’ve missed some windows on developing some trees I got in the early spring. Looking at two issues with the Ponderosa…and this is a grafted tree of the Mary Ann Heacock cultivar. It’s still in nursery pot in nursery soil. Not a collected tree.
First is the inverse taper forming, as in the photo. Obviously, one of the branch pair needs to go, and soon. The question is: too late now to prune that branch?
Second: I don’t quite know what to do about candles. Take half? All but one and leave the one alone? Half of all? The candle on this tree is getting pretty long and is starting to show the first signs of needles forming. So, same question: Too late in the season? And is there a good resource to learn what to do about candles on Ponderosas? Most of what I read or watch seems to deal with JBP or JWP.

Location: Colorado Front Range

I have another question(s) about a sick Pinon, but I’ll put that in a different thread. Thanks!

right. so, back to the video library it is.

1 Like

Wish I could help, but I’m a complete beginner. I don’t have any pines myself, so I haven’t bothered to do any targeted research on them. I will say that I don’t think removing a single branch will be a problem, especially if you get some cut paste on the scar. I vaguely recall that removing candles completely is to induce back budding; half the candle slows elongation?

Good luck!

If you are concerned about the inverse taper and the tree is still in development you can prune that trio of shoots now. However the tree is actively pushing growth so expect it to bleed quite a bit, you can pack the wound with sphagnum moss to soak up the sap. Ideally, I’d wait to prune the trio until fall. The tree should outgrow any inverse taper with time.

As for the candles, again you are developing the tree let them all extend and cut back in the fall. More needles equals more resources for the tree. The more resources the more areas of growth you will get.


I would wait until the fall to remove that branch. As for the candles…what are you trying to accomplish. What stage is the tree in and what is your next big action going to be. These would be the questions to ask yourself. I would leave them this year if this still in nursery soil. Repot or Style in the fall.

1 Like

By June, my pines have stopped bleeding very much sap at the cut sites. IMHO, although I may be wrong, I cut branches off as soon as I notice inverse taper forming, and I try to be proactive about reducing to twos at the proper pruning season so that the situation is not allowed to get that far, but there is often a branch or two that eludes me :wink:

I have a Ponderosa pine and know that they are handled differently than multi-flush pines, but haven’t nailed down knowledge in that area. Before you remove candles, study the videos in the library to figure out the best way and time to prune them.

I would say now is not the best time to remove the candles.

1 Like

Thanks, Fletch. I understand some of how candles work in the resource dept. I was concerned that if I didn’t remove them now, a thick whorl would develop that would be harder to fix later. I have a bristlecone, also nursery stock, that had a 7 candle wheel at the top. I removed all but 2 candles on it, for better or worse.