Pinus/ Pine Bonsai

Bonsai Species Guides: Page 2 of 2

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Give pines as much sunlight as possible during Spring, Summer and Autumn. Insufficient sunlight will result in extended needle length and dieback of shaded branches. Though very hardy in Winter, Pines should be protected from freezing winds when their roots are frozen.

All Pines dislike permanently wet soil though care should be taken to ensure their soil never dries out completely. It is important that a very fast-draining soil-medium is always used. Pines also benefit from regular misting.
It is often recommended that Pines are given minimal water during the Spring to reduce needle-length, as is discussed in an article on pruning pines elsewhere at, my personal feeling is that the withdrawal of water is an unnecessary risk to the health of the tree.

The normal recommendation for feeding pines is to feed with a low-nitrogen fertiliser once in Spring and then to withdraw all feed until new needles have hardened off in late-Spring. The idea being that by 'starving' the tree, needle length will be reduced. The tree is then fed a high-nitrogen feed every 2-3 weeks until early-Autumn.
My personal view is that withdrawing feed is unnecessary as following the correct pruning technique as outlined elsewhere at, can reduce needle length. By correctly pruning, Pines can be fed with a balanced feed throughout the year, resulting in strong vigorous growth, and still retain reduced needle length.
Pines benefit from an occasional replacement feed with Miracid, two or three times a year.

PRUNING Pruning Pines Pinus mugo/Mugo Pine Indepth Japanese White Pine/P. parviflora Pruning and Care Guidelines Pruning Pines 2: Needle Plucking and Summer Pruning of Pine bonsai
When styling, be wary of reducing a nursery Pine's top growth by more than 50% in one vegetative period. Reduce the height of the trunk (and foliage) slowly.

The general rule with mature (over 30-40 years) Pines is to keep to 'only one insult per vegetative period'. After repotting, drastic pruning, wiring or styling you must then wait until 12 months elapses before carrying out any further work. This also means that if a Pine is styled in the Summer, it cannot be repotted the following Spring.

Immature, young pines will take more work than this each year without weakening but it must be remembered that Pines should always been developed slowly.

Trunk chopping and heavy branch pruning; carry out in Autumn when the sap flow in the tree is slower and sap loss will be reduced. Prune back the branch or trunk leaving a short stump. Seal the wound with Vaseline/petroleum jelly, this will seal the wound well, stop sap bleeding and not leave a hardened congealed mess at the wound-site. Allow the stump to dry out over the following year before either jinning it or removing the stump.

REPOTTING Repot in mid Spring every two to five years, depending on root-development.

Repot as the Pine comes into active growth (the candles have extended and the new needles can be seen held tight against the candle), do not repot too early. Mugo pines react far better to Summer repotting.

Use a very free-draining soil-mix. When repotting, pine soils will often be seen to contain a white, thread-like fungus called Micorrhiza, which are very beneficial to the health of the tree.

When repotting, retain a small quantity of the old compost to ensure that Micorrhiza is retained in the new soil mix. For the same reason, do not wash the roots. Remove old, compacted soil by hand.

It is not necessary to prune any of the foliage of the pine after rootpruning to 'balance' the tree. The waxy needles of a Pine require relatively little moisture uptake from the roots and there is no need to try and reduce transpiration through the above-ground growth. The more foliage the tree has after root pruning, the more strength it will have to repair and regenerate the rootball. The tree will 'balance' the roots and foliage itself.

PROPAGATION Sow seed of species outside in early Spring, the seed needs to be exposed to frosts to germinate. If the seed is fresh, germination can be rapid.
Cultivars need to be propagated by grafting in late Winter.

Aphids, sawfly larvae, and various needle cast diseases. Some 5-needle pines are susceptible to white pine needle rust.

Suitable for all forms except broom.

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