Pinus Mugo advise needed

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Pinus Mugo advise needed

Post  Jonas Freeman on Sun Aug 29, 2010 12:30 am

Hi all,

I did get this Pinus Mugo and want to turn it into bonsai. It is about 20 inches high and 30 wide. After cleaning it up from dead branches and needles I did some temperorary wiring to see what the options are. After reading different books and on the internet I am a bit confused and could do with some advise what the styling options are and some tips about the care because there are a lot of contradictionary opinions like when to repot (spring vs autumn Exclamation ), soil, needle plucking etc. I know I need to lower or even remove the left lower branch, bend the main trunk and thin out the top but I am in doubt wich branch to remove. Every advise on styling and care tips is welcome, also . Hope you can help me out.

Thanks, Jonas


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Styling basics

Post  jgeanangel on Sun Aug 29, 2010 12:39 pm

Hello Jonas, I will attempt to offer you a little styling advice via a video. 5 mins is a short period of time when it comes to talking about styling trees...without doubt there is much more that could be said on the subject and about your tree. For me there is a whole process to go through when picking material to style. This process could be thought of in a series of questions. (These questions are based on the assumption that you are already horticulturally familiar, and even better - successful, with the species...you know how vigorous it is, how it back buds, and the appropriate season to successfully carry out work. In my opinion it is a mistake to begin styling a tree before you are comfortable caring for that tree...inevitably mistakes in care will lead to the demise of the material.)

Once you are ready to style here are some things to think about...

1. How is the trunk? Is it the diameter that I imagine for the final tree? Does it have character or can I create character in it? Can I pick a (trunk) line that has good taper? How is the movement? Is the trunk shape-able?
2. How are the roots? I am talking specifically about the area where the roots will be exposed..the rootbase. Are there roots all the way around the tree? Do they come from the tree at about the same level? Are there any roots that are too big and out of scale for the size tree I am imagining? How do the roots look from the side where the trunk looks best?
3. How are the branches? Are there enough to choose from? How is the placement? Does the size of the branches and the distance between them reduce as you move up the tree? What is the distance between the trunk and foliage on the branch? Are the branches shape-able?

There are certainly other questions you will learn to ask yourself but this is a good start. Now with that in mind, watch this video where I think about your tree from a styling perspective...it is not a great critique, but its a start:) Good Luck, John


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Re: Pinus Mugo advise needed

Post  Jonas Freeman on Sun Aug 29, 2010 5:11 pm

Thanks John, You went a great lenght to give me advise. I agree upon the taper in the trunk, there is a little bit to the top upwards but not that much visible in the picture. Perhaps I can improve it by carefully removing the bulges underneath the branches in fases. Grafting is also an option I am willing to take, if it doesn't work at least I always can perform a trunk chop you suggested. About the roots, well I did take it out of this pot en looked for them but the soil is momentarily to moist to do some digging without destroying the top roots. I noticed however it is to the bottom of the pot rooted with white new roots and there is a fair amount of micorhyzza present so I hope this will not be a problem when I repot it it soon in a training pot when de soil is dry. Anyway, thank you very much for the advis. It is my first pine, perhaps not the most easiest species to start with, but I will enjoy the learning experience. In the meanwhile I will stick to my chamaecyparis, picea and other conifers in the making.

Jonas Very Happy

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Re: Pinus Mugo advise needed

Post  Vance Wood on Sun Sep 12, 2010 2:29 pm

This is the problem with Mugo Pines from nurseries; long expanses of very vigorous growth void of character and full of knuckles. If you look at the tip of any pine in the fall after new buds have formed you will usually see one central bud and up to five lateral buds surrounding it. When this configuration pops in the spring every thing is going to grow out vigorously because the nursery system fertilizes it to do so. The end formation will now have long shoots where once there were buds and as they grow the base where they started will swell making what we call a knuckle. These defects are quite prominent in Mugos and Scots Pines and can be difficult to deal with if allowed to develop without intervention.

On your tree you will notice the long trunk extension that goes off to the right has a knuckle formation starting where the most vigorous branch formation is starting. If you try to develop this tree as you are thinking to do so, you will probably never be satisfied with the end result. It would be to your advantage to cut the main branch out altogether back to the smaller branches nearer to the base. From this point you can regrow the tree, thicken the trunk and avoid knuckles. I grow a lot of Mugos from nursery trees and I have several that I have had for nearly forty years. Over the years I have had to restyle most of them having learned a lot from this tree and discovered the mistakes that I have made in the beginning now need to be corrected.

If this tree were mine I would reduce this long branch down by 50% now, and place it in a screen sided container and allow it to regrow. An effort to develop a good bonsai with this tree the way it is now without drastic changes will not make you Happy, even in ten years. A note for any who are wishing to do a Mugo Pine; Start with a good sized tree, 3 gallon size or better and reduce it down. Very few Mugos that fall into the one gallon size or smaller will yield a good bonsai without treating it as a grown from seed tree.


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Re: Pinus Mugo advise needed

Post  anttal63 on Mon Sep 13, 2010 11:03 am

Hi Jonas heres my tree. cheers



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Re: Pinus Mugo advise needed

Post  Jonas Freeman on Mon Sep 13, 2010 6:07 pm

Thanks for your replies,

I am waiting with it to late autumn/winter start to begin pruning it because I understood this was the best time because of the sap flow. How ever I wonder if it could be repotted prior or wait until to see if it survives my abuse Sad Anither idea was to get some practice to try a jin on the top site. If that doesn't succeed I always can remove it afterwards.

Jonas

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Re: Pinus Mugo advise needed

Post  Vance Wood on Mon Sep 13, 2010 8:20 pm

This solution is a good design possibility but if you cut it back this far all at one time you will most likely kill it. Mugos do not take kindly to being hacked back this far all at once. Earlier I suggested the cut you should take as being safe. You have to remember that you are removing the most vigorous and effective growth on the tree. If you remove it all right now or at at any one point in time the chances are very good you will lose the tree. I've tried it, on more than one occasion, and have lost trees because of it. They can be cut back this hard but it should be done over a couple of growing seasons giving the tree time to adapt to the change in growth dominance. Another issue you may encounter is die back on the trunk where the life line to the top is rendered useless because it has no target, the associated root or roots will die causing the portion of the trunk they inhabit to die as well.

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Re: Pinus Mugo advise needed

Post  tim stubbs on Mon Sep 13, 2010 8:28 pm


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Re: Pinus Mugo advise needed

Post  anttal63 on Mon Sep 13, 2010 9:04 pm

Sorry Vance i disagree, this tree will have no problem what so ever being hacked back to this point. The growth in that 1st left hander is more than vigorous enough to take over. My suggestion is that Jonas chops it late winter just before it wakes, leave a stubb and then any die back can be made into jin and shari. Safe is not a necessary option here, only to make a good tree.
Jonas there is also some other options in the chop where you can bring the foliage around and back on to its self, if you turn the tree a little anti clockwise. In the end your decision, enjoy it! Wink cheers

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Re: Pinus Mugo advise needed

Post  Jonas Freeman on Mon Sep 13, 2010 9:28 pm

All is extremely usefull information, thank you all.

The plan I now have is to repot it to a training pot without to much root pruning this year and see if it will survive. Then de the next three or four years reduce the top part and prepare one of the lower branches to become the new trunk. All by all a start of about five years wich keeps me of busy and of the streets study

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Re: Pinus Mugo advise needed

Post  Vance Wood on Tue Sep 14, 2010 4:44 am

anttal63 wrote:Sorry Vance i disagree, this tree will have no problem what so ever being hacked back to this point. The growth in that 1st left hander is more than vigorous enough to take over. My suggestion is that Jonas chops it late winter just before it wakes, leave a stubb and then any die back can be made into jin and shari. Safe is not a necessary option here, only to make a good tree.
Jonas there is also some other options in the chop where you can bring the foliage around and back on to its self, if you turn the tree a little anti clockwise. In the end your decision, enjoy it! Wink cheers

With all due respects the question I need to ask is your personal experience with Mugos and how many have you cut back this severely to what is no doubt its weakest growth? I have done this on several occasions and have seen the trees start to regrow then die. Mugos are a strange group of pines that do not always respond like other two-needle pines. They seem to be very top to root dependent and need to be coaxed a little or portions of the trunk that supported the major growth areas will die. Cutting back this hard should be done in two stages which will allow the weaker branches you hope to develop to become stimulated enough to take over. It seems, according to my theory, that the weaker growth is tied to portions of the trunk that has been abandoned and the allocated roots that support the weaker branches become overwhelmed causing the demise of the tree.

The weaker branches in this case are already in decline as the obvious vigorous growth seems to be moving along without them. The branch or branches that it is suggested the tree be cut back to are already in the process of being abandoned by the rest of the tree and as such will not be able to continue without some of the influence of the vigorous sections powering the tree and its healing response. Once those weaker branches show evidence of new and vigorous growth it will be safe to cut back where you want. Personally from my point of view I have spent a great deal of time with this species, more than some people would suggest is seemly and I do not wish to come off as argumentative but I believe that doing what has been suggested will only yield fresh compost, not a good bonsai. In this case I do not wish to trust to luck which would be the outcome of success.

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Re: Pinus Mugo advise needed

Post  Vance Wood on Tue Sep 14, 2010 4:47 am

Jonas Freeman wrote:All is extremely usefull information, thank you all.

The plan I now have is to repot it to a training pot without to much root pruning this year and see if it will survive. Then de the next three or four years reduce the top part and prepare one of the lower branches to become the new trunk. All by all a start of about five years wich keeps me of busy and of the streets study

You don't have to wait five years to complete the cut you have invisioned, but you should wait at leat two.

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Re: Pinus Mugo advise needed

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