A traditional Bonsai tree is the Japanese White Pine
Caring for Japanese White Pines - Pinus Parviflora and Pentaphylla - The Japanese White Pine
requires careful attention to maintain its health and train it as a bonsai. When you consider the White
Pine, all of your
Bonsai skills must come into play. You must utilyze your cleaning techniques, growth, re-potting, soil,
pruning, wiring, water, spray, feeding, etc. Additionally, you will be dealing with peat, pests, disease, and
This may seem challenging, but as you master your Bonsai skills, taking care of many of these
areas become almost instinctive. Extensive details on what to do are not possible in the space here, but
I can provide you a few helpful tips to get you started in growing Japanese White Pines as bonsai.
How to clean: Cleaning the pine trees is easy. Use your "thumb and index
finger" to pluck old or aged pine needles. These pine needles often turn yellowish during the fall.
Next, prune the internal undergrowth or foliage and get rid of any decaying and/or injured sections. And
don't forget to get rid of any debris or decaying elements lying on the soil. This is a process
you will do from time to time. Remember the growth of the
Japanese Whites is a slow process.
Pruning the Roots: In early spring or around mid-March, is a good time to prune the roots.
Cut back the roots around 1/3 length and get rid of the aged or unhealthy roots. You can leave old soil
about the roots as this will make it easier for the plant to re-establish its growth. Avoid cleaning at
this stage. After you re-pot the plant, you want to, carefully watch its growth.
Adding Soil: Adding the right soil is important when growing Japanese White
Pines. Start with fertile workable soil that consists of a mixture of clay, sand, silt, and some
organic matterial. Add some course sand, around 1/3 of the total soil added.
Pruning the Tree: A fair amount of Pruning is best handled in April, this is when
you can prune back the young spring shoots or "candles" as needed. Candles are covered in brown or whitish
bud scales and point upward at first, then later turn green and spread outward. The candle(s) should be
pruned back about 2/3 before the candles open. Use your
index finger and thumb to pinch them off. If the plant grows thick crowns, you will want to remove at
least one bud. Typically there are around three buds per growth, and you will only remove one per
growth of the three. You can leave the buds alone, if you want a thicker plant.
In October, it will be time to prune the branches. This is not about cutting the needles, rather
cut 1/3 of the branch. You may need to pinch the buds back for a few weeks to balance the needles.
How to water: The Japanese White Pines require less water than many common plants;
therefore sparingly water your plants as needed.
How to spray: During the summer, you will want to spray the undergrowth, or foliage.
Fertilizing Your Pine: Fertilizer is used to feed nutrients to your bonsai. The
Japanese White Pines require feeding during the spring months and fall. Use slow-processing, natural
fertilizer to feed your plant. At the end of fall, amplify the amount of fertilizer and add a moderate
amount of chemical radicals, or nitrate. If the tree is sick, or recently been re-potted,
do not add fertilizer.
Re-Potting: Wait five years before you re-pot the plants into a larger pot, with
a deep bottom.
Ultimately, eperience will be your greatest guide to growing great Japanese White Pines. Start
a few pines each year and before you know it you will have a vast minature forest of beautiful Bonsai trees.
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