Yamadori Ponderosa Pine

I collected a ponderosa pine on September 25, 2020 near Flagstaff AZ, near 8000 feet altitude. I conserved as much of the roots as possible, wrapped it all in burlap and kept the soil damp until I got back to Dallas. The tree browned up significantly in those four days. I transferred the tree to a deep bonsai pot filled with 50/45/5 mix of the tree’s native soil/ pumice/lava/akadama /organic. I was pretty sure the tree wasn’t going to make it, but now with winter approaching (such as it is in Texas), it looks like the tree has stabilized. Half of the needles are browned up, but the other half are pale yellowish-green and most of the buds connected to the green needles are alive and plump. So what I am looking for is some guidance from someone who has experience with ponderosa pine yamadori who can tell me if the tree might survive, and if it does, how do I treat itt going forward.

1 Like

I think that the most important things right now are:
Stabilize it in the pot so the roots can’t be move by any forces on the trunk. This may take an external frame that holds the pot and tree perfectly rigid in relation to each other
Balance of O2&H2O. Wet roots will rot instead of growing


It’s a little hard to see the size of the pot you’ve chosen, but my understanding is that yamadori should rarely, if ever, be placed directly into bonsai pots. A better choice is something with excellent aeration and drainage, to promote root recovery and growth to the maximum extent possible. Folks often use homemade boxes out of lumber, with mesh screens for a bottom. There are also “air pots” or “air pruning” pots one can buy online.

I’m fairly new to bonsai myself, and this is just my 2 cents. I’m happy to hear your tree seems to be stabilizing. Good luck!

1 Like

Thanks Joe. It’s actually a “faux” bonsai pot. I chose it because of the amount of soil I had available. It’s deeper than a genuine pot and the roots have plenty of space to grow if the tree survives. If it does, I will likely move it over to a grow box for a couple of years.


Tim Ahlen


Les, Thanks. Good word, esp. on the wet roots. Ponderosa pines like it dry. :wink:

My success rate is real good using only pumice. Now is not the time to add any other soil medium.
You might try a healing bed, which is the tree planted in a bed of wood chips.
I am going to give the tree a very low outcome of survival, since most of the foliage is showing an unhealthy root system and pines energy comes from their roots.
The plump buds might be the last of the trees energy being used to survive.
Good luck :evergreen_tree: :smiley: :love_you_gesture:t2:

I agree that a heat bed may help but at this point, in Dallas, we’ve only had night of temps into the upper thirties (My Basal is still growing, pesto at Thanksgiving). Daytime temps this week have been in the mid 70’s.
The tree does not look very stable in the pot. If this is true, then stabilization is critical.

I’ve wired it down through the drain holes. This is the way it was laying on the landslide I took it from. You are right. I don’t want it moving.

Yes. I thought it was a goner when I got home with it. But it’s been almost two months now, and it hasn’t totally dried up. One of the things I was wondering is if it would help or hurt if I trimmed off the dead needles to give more air and sunlight to the ones that are still green.

1 Like

I think that what is dead is dead and you risk getting into something that’s not quite dead yet. Another thought would be to set it up on a mister that runs 2-3 times /day. This might decrease the water column tension on the roots a little. This is pretty easy to do with a Home Depot valve control, 10 bucks of PVC and Fog It nozzles
If you’ve not looked at the boxing collected trees in the library, it’s a good 26 min video.

Hate to say it, but once a pondo starts to turn like that it’s been dead for quite awhile. Just don’t want you getting your hopes up.

Thanks, Brad. Yeah. I haven’t had much experience with ponderosa pines. I’ve always been reticent to take them from their natural subalpine environments to Texas. I do well with JBP’s. I’ll just leave my :evergreen_tree: aspirations with that.

Some positive reinforcement. Don’t keep damp or in fog. However what I personally do with mine when I want to encourage survival or growth where really desired Is spray all foliage with spray bottle with solution of 1/2 strength fertilizer(20-20-20) and HB101 a couple times a day when will not dry out too fast and since not too cold down there suggest watering with same mixture once a week IF needing watered. As mentioned: no wet feet please. Ponderosas are pretty tough and maybe you’ll end up with fewer branches but still something interesting to develop. Don’t prune off anything until absolutely positive is dry and dead.
I have 11 Yamadori Ponderosas from several collectors. Since you’re in TX you should go and visit with Alvaro of ChoBonsaiYamadori.com. I think he’s in your area and I have a couple of great trees from him :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:.

1 Like