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3 Year Bonsai Progression - Shohin Japanese Black Pine

I love bonsai progressions! Each Thursday, I give an update to a tree in my garden. This week, a shohin black pine I've had since 2018.

I first highlighted this tree last fall. If you’d like to see the initial progression, you can check it out here. I’ve taken this tree through the basic black pine process. Which, for many, can seem intimidating, but I assure you, once you have the basics down, it’s not difficult. Be that as it may, I’m not a black pine expert, but I did write a post on where to find the best black pine information on the web, so if you have questions, you can check that out.

Basically, a typical year for black pines goes something like this:

*Spring - Fertilize

*Summer - Cut Candles & Stop Fertilization

*Fall - Pluck Needles. Wire and style, and Restart Fertilization

Now, there’s some nuance there, for sure, but you get the basic idea. Here’s a year in the life of this black pine, with photos.

Spring 2021

The tree coming out of winter dormancy. Looking good and healthy.

(Quick aside, I go back and forth on the proper angle of this tree. It may be difficult to see, but from the other perspective, the top is straight up and down, which is something you try to avoid in bonsai design. So for now, I’ve decided this is the better angle.)

Summer 2021 - Before Candle Cutting

The tree is very green and healthy. The candles are long and strong. This is the best indication that the tree is ready for the stress that is candle-cutting. I performed this work on July 4th of this year.

After Candle Cutting

Fall 2021 - Before Needle Plucking

As I mentioned before, after cutting candles, I really don’t do much, except water as needed. The new candles have come in well and I can now do some needle plucking. Needle plucking (my definition, yours might be different) is removing all the year-old needles that are long and reducing each extending candles to sets of two. This work can be done anytime in the fall.

After Needle Plucking and Wire & Style

Last weekend, the great Shannon Salyer of Kusa Farms came to our Nashville Bonsai club meeting. Shannon is a shohin master and gave me some great tips for this tree, including changing the apex just a bit. Reason #2,345 that going to bonsai club meetings is the best! Thanks for your help Shannon!

Shannon Salyer and a shohin japanese black pine
Bonsai & Beards, A Great Combination

Final Before & After

So, what do you think? Do you prefer the angle from 2021 or 2020? Leave a comment below and don't forget to subscribe to my monthly newsletter, which will ship out next week! Until next time, Peace Love Bonsai!

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