Pine bonsai is a majestuous bonsai tree. It symbolizes a rigourous and robust bonsai tree. Most pine bonsai specimen has a massive trunk. Pine trees are from the Pinaceae family tree. Three major types of pine are known. They are the Japanese pine, American pine and European pine.
Japanese Black Pine
The Japanese black pine got a rough bark and dark needles. The needles will grow in group of two. It is one of the preferred Japanese pine because of its solid root system. It is often use as a root sytem grafted on Japanese white pine. This pine will not do well in hotter climates area as it prefer colder area and a time to rejuvenate during the coldest season. The Japanese black pine can be affected by a fungus causing irregular growth on a branch. This is called a witchbroom. This clump style growth is often praised in the bonsai world, and propagation of the clump with cuttings will produce a near to perfect bonsai. In Japanese they are known as “Yatsubusa”.
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Japanese White Pine
The Japanese white pine is also an ideal bonsai candidate. Its short needles, averaging 1-2 inch in size will help the tree gain its desired bonsai appearance quicker. On the downside, the Japanese white pine tree as a weak roots system compared to other pines. Commercial grower will often graft a branch on a Japanese black pine seedling. Also known as the five needles pine because the needles bud grows fine needles at the same time. It prefers colder area and will not do well in the hotter climates area.
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Japanese Red Pine
Japanese red pine is the less frequent of Japanese pine to be use as bonsai. In Japan it is popular in gardens but in a bigger size then common bonsai. The long needles make it harder to develop into a suitable bonsai specimen. Many cultivars have been found over the years and one of the most popular is the weeping pendula one. This species is more resistant to the cold then the other Japanese pine species, but as the other it prefer a colder climate area. The needles are also forming in a clump of 2. The orange to red peeling bark makes it an attractive bonsai tree specimen.
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Eastern White Pine
This pine is an unpredictable species if you compare the color of the needles. While the colors will stay in the range of gray-blue and green, variation is common. It’s 3-5 inch needles makes it a less desirable bonsai if needles reductions techniques are not applied at a young age. As all white pine, the eastern white pine grows five needles at same time. It is the only eastern native pine with five needles clump. It is a fast grower, but growth rate is diminishing as the tree matures. It has a smooth grey bark from a young age.
This is a very resistant species of pine. It will tolerate almost any soil and growing conditions. The needles are average length, being 1.5 to 3 inch in size, which makes it a somewhat good bonsai candidate. It is similar to the Japanese black pine but with a less robust growth and the girth of the trunk is usually lesser. It has a brown to purple thin flaking bark.
Mountain Pine is a small shrub pine with an average of 6 foot at mature height. Its small and compact growth habit makes it ideal for bonsai, but the growth rate, which is rather slow, makes it a less popular bonsai species. It is a very dense foliage pine. The needles are long-lasting and will stay on the tree for up to four years. The color of the needles is a constant dark green color. It is one of the most resistant to cold weather pine.
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Austrian Black Pine
Similar to the Japanese black pine, the Austrian black pine will respond well to the same techniques as the Japanese counterpart. It is a good replacement when mature Japanese black pine cannot be found locally. As all black pine, the needles will grow in pair. The main advantage of the Austrian black pine over the Japanese one is that it will tolerate heat. This means it can be grown in hotter climate area. The needles are very dark, almost black-green.
Italian Stone Pine
Also known as the umbrella pine because of its umbrella like growth habit, the Italian stone pine as been harvested for its nuts for ever as the seeds are edible. The tall trunk and flat top are the characteristic appearance of this pine tree. The bark is a red to brown color, very thick and deeply fissured. It is a type of pine that will not tolerate cold climate.
Basic Pine Bonsai Care
As with most of the trees, pine tree will require the maximum of light it can get. Rotating the tree during the day is ideal if natural light is blocked by a fence or something similar.
Most bonsai pine tree will prefer a well drained soil. It is also recommended to let the soild become near dry between each watering. This prevent an excess of moisture around roots that would cause disease.
Feeding and Fertilizer
As most conifers prefer an acidic fertilizer, the pine trees are not an exception to this rule. An acidic, more concentrate in nitrogen, fertilizer will produce a greener foliage. Some coffee waste spread around the root base will provide a strong acidic supplement to any coniferous tree.
Pine Bonsai Techniques
The most common bonsai techniques to apply to a bonsai pine tree are the needles reductions and the grafting of a needles bud on a specific branch. The first is much needed to balance the needles length with the reduced size of the bonsai tree. It is achieve by plucking undesired needles and to balance the growth power on a weaker side of the tree. The second technique of bud grafting is applied when the pine bonsai tree reach a certain maturity. It is used to plug a needle bud in a specific spot on a branch in order the get foliage more complete and dense. Both techniques are difficult techniques and are successfully achieved by more experienced bonsai adept.
Pine Bonsai Diseases and Pests
Too many pests and diseases could be listed here and they mostly vary on all species of pine. We suggest you research for your desired specific species pest and diseases.
Pine Bonsai Propagation
Propagation by seeds is the easiest way to propagate pine tree. Germination rate is usually very high. It is also a cheap and good way to develop a large collection of small tree.
Cuttings can be taken on most pine and rooted with success. Basic horticulture technique will provide good result with cuttings. Strong rooting hormones can be used on hardwood cuttings. Softwood cutting are the easiest to do with pine tree.
Air layering is also another possibility for propagation of the pine tree. Once again, general air layering techniques have proven success with pines.