JAPANESE BLACK PINE
When looking for the perfect tree to train for bonsai, the Japanese Black Pine
should land on the top of the list. This strong tree responds quite well to a
number of techniques while providing excellent growth characteristics. Because
of the Japanese Black Pine being so hardy and versatile, it makes a great choice
for beginner or advanced bonsai enthusiasts.
Keep the soil well drained and a mixture of 50/50 pumice and akadama. If you
have a younger Japanese Black Pine, then you should add a little more grit
whereas the more mature trees like more akadama. The key is to go with soil that
drains well to eliminate the risk of root rot. In addition, the Japanese Black
Pine must be kept evenly moist, never too damp. In fact, when watering, we
suggest you keep the soil a little more on the dry side in that this tree can
withstand some drought. Just remember that water for the Japanese Black Pine
should have a pH level between 5.5 and 6.5 for the best results.
The Japanese Black Pine loves full sun and in the summer time, can easily
tolerate temperatures of 100 degrees or more. Keep in mind that when kept in
full sun all summer long, the color of this bonsai tree will change to a
green/yellow color whereas in the shade or partial shade, the color would turn a
beautiful, deep green. Because the hot sun can cause the bonsai container to
become too hot, thus baking the tree’s roots, you should cover the container
with some type of material that can block out sun.
During the springtime, the Japanese Black Pine must be significantly pruned.
Interestingly, while other deciduous trees need to be fertilized, this species
does not. However, this type of bonsai does appreciate products like Bio Gold in
mid-spring through early fall. For pruning, this would be performed in late fall
or early winter to help stop sap bleeding. Once a branch has been cut off, use a
sharp knife with putty cut paste around the edges of the wound.
The key with the Japanese Black Pine is to work slowly. In fact, training of
this type of bonsai tree should take place over several years. Unfortunately,
dramatic pruning causes too much stress on the tree. Then, once the tree has
been pruned, make sure it stays in shade for about three to four weeks.
Additionally, the Japanese Black Pine should not put in locations where there
are extreme temperatures.
To help promote ramification, shoot trimming should be done but only after the
growing season is over. While you can prune this tree in the fall, be sure this
is done only on well-fed and mature trees. Typically, the best time to wire this
tree is late in the wintertime. Wiring any other time of the year causes sap
leakage, which damages and even kills branches. The repotting schedule for the
Japanese Black Pine depends largely on the region in which you live. For this,
you would need to talk to your local gardening center or nursery for the best
advice. Regardless, be sure you do not remove too much root at the time of
repotting and be aware of root feeder channels during the trimming process.
For the Japanese Black Pine, you want to rearrange the roots gently each time
you repot the tree. This tree will need good surface root structure as well.
Once the tree has been repotted, it should be set in partial sunlight or bright
shade for about three to four weeks. Finally, the red spider mite is an enemy of
this tree, attacking stressed or weak trees. Therefore, make it a part of your
overall maintenance to check for these insects weekly, appearing as red specks
on the tree’s needles.