The new shoots on Black pines have matured so it is time to thin out all the new shoots that have grown since decandling.
It is important to know that this is part of the technique used to REFINE MATURE pines. Younger, developing pines should be allowed to grow freely to gain strength and size and cut back hard every couple of years. Decandling is used to ramify the branches on trees that are closer to being mature bonsai.
These 2 pines were decandled in mid December – early summer – last year.
Healthy pines respond to decandling by sprouting several new buds from the base of the candles that were cut. If lots of buds are allowed to grow from one place they quickly thicken the branch at that point leaving unsightly swollen branches.
Now is the time to reduce the number of new shoots so there are only 2 shoots at any one spot.
The upper parts of most pines are stronger so where possible cut off the strongest shoots and leave 2 of the weaker ones in the strong areas.
On weaker branches and interior shoots cut out the weakest and leave some stronger shoots. The aim is to balance the vigour of the whole tree and leave all parts of the tree equally strong so that budding will be even all over next spring.
Autumn is also time to remove any older needles from the tree and reduce the number of needles on the new shoots to equalise vigour. I try to leave around 8-10 pairs of needles on each shoot but if the tree is very strong in some areas and weaker in others you can leave more in the weaker areas to help build up strength for next season.
Here’s the same tree after reducing the number of shoots and equalising needles over the whole tree. Now the tree has been thinned it is also a good time to wire any areas that need repositioning.