Pinus Pumila as a Bonsai

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Pinus Pumila as a Bonsai

Post  Orion on Wed Feb 01, 2012 12:37 am

I've never worked on a pine before, so I made a New Year's resolution to do just that. There are several nurseries that sell JBPs, Ponderosas and the like, but I'm looking for something different.

I've only seen pumila pines, aka Siberian dwarf pines, in older pictures from Japan and I'm intrigued by their characteristics: five needled, more horizontal growth than vertical and extreme hardiness. From what I understand they are similar to a mugo, but I'm not sure of the pluses or minuses when compared to each other.

Anyone out there have experience with this species regarding growth expectations, trainability as a bonsai, etc.???

Any info. would be really appreciated.

With thanks,

John

Orion
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Re: Pinus Pumila as a Bonsai

Post  Fuku-lvb on Wed Feb 01, 2012 8:49 am

Dear John,

i'm trying to grow some Pinus Pumila in my place (i live in the Alps). Because it's difficult to find not grafted materials in France, i've bought some seeds and i'm growing them for 2-3 years now. In my place, it is very slow growing, and a little weak. I have the feeling that it doesn't like the wet and cool winter we can have sometimes in western Europe.

It's important to provide a very draining soil. I suppose it's very similar to grow as japanese white pine, as they live in similar conditions in their natural environment and are very closely related trees (i guess that there is an hybrid between p. pumila and jwp in the nature in the northern part of Japan).
The needles are beautiful, same color as pinus cembra, but smaller and thinner. You probably won't have to shelter them during the winter, even if you live in a cold climate.

The trainability as bonsai is undoubtedly good.
I have a pictures of a p. pumila as bonsai (a pretty strange one) from a french bonsai magazine. It has been trained by Hideo Suzuki. I don't know if i can scan it and post it here. I don't know exactly why it is so rare to see some of them as bonsai in books or magazines.

Compared to Mugo, my opinion is that the needles are more beautiful, but it is maybe more difficult to grow, as mugo are a much more plastic species (it can be grown and adapted in various climates). It will really depend on your place of living (a cold and snowy winter would be a strong plus to grow pinus pumila!), and i'm sure it's worth the effort.

I also can suggest you to grow another very hardy tree: pinus banksiana. Beautiful small needles, beautiful bark, easy to wire, and not so common in Europe. It's one of my favorite species.


If anyone more experiences will read this post any further info. would be really appreciated!
Thank you!

Louis



Fuku-lvb
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Re: Pinus Pumila as a Bonsai

Post  Orion on Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:33 pm

Hi Louis,

Thank you for the reply and info. I've seen seeds for sale on the internet and I've also seen where people use the pumila as a landscaping shrub since it grows so low, that's what I am hoping to find, yet it seems difficult to find a nursery that sells them. I'll look into the banksiana. Do you have any pics of what you are growing??? I'd love to see them.

Thanks again and keep me posted on the progress.

John

Orion
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Re: Pinus Pumila as a Bonsai

Post  Fuku-lvb on Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:06 pm

Hi John,
my seedlings of Pinus Pumila are now under 20cm of snow. The weather we are having now in western Europe probably remind them their homeland! That's why it's gonna be difficult to send you some pictures of them, but i have to tell you that they are not very spectacular plants, just looking like 2 y o seedlings of any kind of 5 needles pine.
I will try to find the picture of this japanese bonsai of Pinus Pumila i've seen in an old french bonsai magazine.
I will wait for the spring to send some pictures of my (very) small Pinus Pumila.
A good link:
http://www.conifers.org/pi/Pinus_pumila.php

Fuku-lvb
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