Fall Balancing Act with Japanese Black Pines

Nebari Bonsai

I was asked to respond to a post about balancing a Japanese Black Pine last month. The problem was that summer candle-pruning, or care thereafter had resulted in a pine that was growing less balanced in strength.

As an homage to Peter Warren’s Rastafarian Pine from 20 years ago, here is a shot of the pine under consideration, color-coded by strength:

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Since we are in the fall season, the right work to do at this time is what we’d normally do with pines in the fall…pull needles, prune excess shoots, and reduce terminal buds to pairs.

How to start? Find the weakest areas of the tree (lower, interior, shaded branches). Count the needle pairs from this season’s growth on those shoots to establish an average. Next, size up the buds…determine the average size of the weakest buds. Consider this as the average weak shoot for our example. It has about…

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