Substrate on Talperion Farms grow bags

Hey, I will start field growing pitch pines and I want to follow the methods of Talperion Farms. I listened again to the podcast but I have a question. Any help, hints, vague ideas, suggestions are welcome. Thank you in advance Mirai community. The starter trees I have are in 1gal or 3gal nursery containers in my mind they seem to be 2 or 3 years years old with trunks about pinky finger size. They seem to be some sort of high drainage modern substrate but very badly handled, I can see the square shape of the seedling starting pot. That is to say, I need to do root work - and the earlier I do it the better. My plan is to keep them in the cold greenhouse and next spring at the appropriate time do the root work and repot the trees in the root grow bags. Then a month or so later plant them in the ground. So my questions are:

  1. What substrate do the folks at Talperion farm used in their grow bag. I can imagine that the same issues of great variation in humidity between the surrounding soil and the substrate in the container may happen if I use a fully modern substrate. At the same time, I know from the podcast that the field soil at Talperion was very heavy on clay. So what did they use inside the grow bags?

  2. I might have missed this in the podcast but at what point in terms of the development of a tree did they start to perform the needle plucking to get the tree low in sugars without affecting the hormone production/distribution, which is the reason in their view why they got so much back budding? Do I start doing this early like next year or the year after or say after 5 years in the field for example. Is it even necessary in pitch pine that is so prone to backbud?

Thanks a lot to all of you and mostly to Talperion Farms that were so kind to share freely their knowledge. As you all know, they were heavily affected by the wild fires so if you haven’t done so, please consider donating to them and their caretaker (two different go fund me campaigns) even if like myself I never had the chance to visit and can/could not ever buy their trees being in Canada.



I think this Mirai thread covers the substrate part of the question…


Glad you’re doing this. I live in Philadelphia and every time a dive this the beach, I drive past the biggest pitch pine forests. Yet it is super hard to get my hands on good pitch pine material.


Thanks @DonPettit! I missed that post. Great info in there.

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For those interested in Pitch pine, this site has a very extensive review on many aspects of the species with a lot of information that seems directly applicable to this specie’s use for bonsai purposes.

Hi Rafi, i meet you at Natures Way workshop last fall. i have been working with pitch pines for several years. Take a look at these. Also table mtn. pine(pinus pungens) which i have found is a multflush pine also. I have never heard of people using this pine. the last 3 pics are table mtn pine.

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Wow Peter, fantastic trees! I had never heard of P. pungens. It looks like the more we explore with find out how much mire than Japan we have to use in terms of species. Hope we can meet again at NWN. Stay safe!

Hey Rafi maybe some small help with #2 but not #1 for you. At Telperion Chris did not pull needles(as far as I know). He did let a long leader grow 12’ or so after wiring lower trunk for movement to develop the trunk, trimmed off most branches above a selected height(1 1/2-2’ or so) so low ones got lots of sun and maybe did some minimal low trimming to help ramification and eliminate shading out of growth. Did you ever visit there? Aren’t Pitch Pine one that grows epicormic branches?


Hi, I never had a chance to visit. I saw some images of their pines growing in the field as you describe. It is probably the approach I will follow. Yes, pitch pine has epicormic growth and also extremely easily back buds everywhere. I think it is probably one of the best and most under-utilized pines we can use in North America given its multi flush nature ease of back budl.

my understanding of the talperion process is, they would pluck all the previous years needles on the leader, leaving only new growth.

I believe this can be seen if you look at some of the picks of their pines in the ground.


Hi Rafi, where did you acquire the Pitch Pines? What size?