Pruning Pines

Pines make wonderful bonsai, however they are not the ideal 'first tree'.There are skills you will need to aquire to cope with their growing patterns.

Unlike deciduous trees and indeed most other conifers, pines will rarely produce buds back on old wood, that is to say wood which has shed its needles. Unless you learn to deal with this you will end up with pads of foliage at the end of long denuded branches.

Deciduous trees tend to split in two at a leaf node, Pines are capable of producing a bud wherever there is a needle, but generally will only bud at the tip of this years growth. As you can see from the illustration the central bud is usually the strongest, this bud or candle as they are called should be removed as soon as possible. together with any 'spare' buds, leaving only two.

Now your course of action depends on wether you are developing or maintaining the bonsai. If developing, the remaining buds are allowed to grow on. In late summer, late July early August in the UK, these candles are cut back to a desirable length and soon side buds will appear.

If you are maintaining a mature tree you should not allow to much extension of the candles. This is achieved by breaking off most of the emerging candle, do not cut it as this will damage the tips of the new needles and spoil the look of the tree. Again this will cause side buds and some back budding, but without to much thickening of the branch.

This tree had its growth cut back last summer, and is now a mass of small buds

Allen. C. Roffey 09:46 13/07/2008