To the uninitiated, a pine is a pine right? Wrong! There are many species of pine and even more subspecies. This meeting covered 4 different types and how to train/style/keep in shape each one. All pines like full sunlight and it invigorates them but they are really not keen on having waterlogged soil, so good drainage is essential.

Black Pine

This type of pine is characterised by its very dark, almost black coloured bark. It also is a two needle pine, and each of these needles are extremely sharp! The black pine is extremely quick growing with thick vigorous growth and long needles.

The key to styling etc. the black pine is to remove all new candles, this is because you want to encourage the secondary growth which is more compact. Also, if your tree creates a lot of buds at the end of the growing season, remove all buds that you do not want as this prevents swelling at this point.

Scots Pine

Pine Project tree April 2012
A scots pine belonging to John who is sadly no longer with us

If you have collected a tree from the wild (please remember to get permission from the landowner before digging). A scots pine has two needles joined  but the bark is quite different. You need to treat these quite differently. Remove the centre candle, this is the dominant one and can be too coarse for bonsai and ensure you only have 2 candles to grow on, otherwise you get swelling where 3 shoots are emerging at one spot. Once the candles have extended, trim back to leave 3-4 pairs of new little needles. If you want to encourage smaller needles, wait until Autumn, and then remove all of the new growth. The next season, remove the centre bud and continue as above.

White Pine

White pine 010617
White pine

This is a five needle pine. To maintain its shape nip back the candles to a bud, or if there is no bud, just after the new growth begins. If you want to develop a particular branch, nip out purely the growing tip.

Mugo Pine

Aka the mountain pine. It was advised at this meeting, that the mugo is a good beginner tree. This is a two needle pine. “Give it light and it will shoot”. This is an indication of how well it will back bud. You can prune back to any little shoot. If you cannot see any buds, leave two pairs of needles in the new growth.