Developing nebari on Japanese White Pine

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Developing nebari on Japanese White Pine

Post  D Chet on Thu Nov 28, 2013 6:09 am

Hey all,

Just joined the club and I have so many questions, but I'll be sure to fire them off one at a time. I was wondering if anyone has had great success with any nebari development methods with pines. I've read a lot about ground layering and on the upside have pulled off my two attempts at air layers so far. However, I'm wondering if there is a better way of achieving this on a pine. I've read that air layering pines can take an extremely long time and I assume that ground layering techniques would be no different. Other than a graft what would work best, wire tourniquet, repotting over top of a tile or board, or something else? I can't go the hole in tile route either because the trunk splits in two and then spreads about 13 inches.

And if it makes any difference it's a nursery tree and I'm pretty sure it's was grafted on to a black pine trunk in the past.

D Chet

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Re: Developing nebari on Japanese White Pine

Post  marcus watts on Fri Dec 06, 2013 6:45 pm


Once a pine tree is fairly well formed and getting older you basically have to make do with most of what nature has given you. The perfect trunk bases and spreading roots you see on mature specimen bonsai are there because the tree was born to be a bonsai - the trees were started from seed, the roots cut off in the first year and a new set of flaring roots regrown. This removes any chance of a tap root forming and the spread of new roots also create a nice flare to the trunk base too.

Nursery trees are grown to be planted in the ground so the roots are never pruned if it is a container tree but you can sometimes be a little lucky if the tree was grown in a field and then dug up and potted. This cuts the long thick roots shorter so at least there is a slightly denser root pad to work with. The best way to progress is to rake away the surface soil to expose all the buried trunk and to see how the (now) surface roots look. In time you can slowly remove the ugly, coiled and overlapping ones and just keep the ones best positioned...if there are any, but if they aren't there it's just one of those things...the nursery trees are much cheaper to buy but they may not have what's needed to be a perfect bonsai very often..

Pines are usually weakened severely if you totally bare root them too, so it is not so easy to spread the roots with wires or on a tile etc at repotting time. Depending upon what is buried in the pot it may be best to concentrate on the trees best visible bits. Junipers and pines don't really need stunning nebari to be good bonsai - it is more an important feature of deciduous trees.

More important is to get the trees front right based on the trunk line, if you get roots looking good from the same angle it's a bonus

cheers Marcus
marcus watts

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