Styling a Jack Pine Bonsai

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This is a Pinus banksiana, also known as the Jack pine. It’s a nursery stock, I bought it for around US$20-25.  I’ll show you how styling a jack pine bonsai using this material. After pruning and wiring, this was the result. [After] It’s got a nice bonsai potential, a nice trunk line, a lot of branches. And today we are giving the tree its first styling Meaning that we’re not touching the roots at all. It’s late fall right now So the only thing that we’re doing is cleaning up the tree. Selecting the branches that we want to keep in our design, so pruning some other branches Wiring the branches so we can set all the branches in position, and that’s it. The tools we use include wire, a wire cutter, and a twig shear. When pruning larger branches, we’ll use a concave cutter. All these are available at specialized bonsai nurseries or on our website. If you’re just starting out though, feel free to use any standard pruning shears instead. Okay, we’ve taken some time to study the tree and made some decisions And this decision making process is what’s difficult Designing a nursery stock plant like this with so many branches. But the first decision we took is there’s two branches here at the same height Same size more or less, so one of those will have to go. Otherwise it just looks like a tree that’s not so natural. The branch that we’re pruning away is this one. So this is the branch that we’re keeping. And then for example some other branches, like this one is very large So this, at least, will have to come down in size. So we’ll probably cut this section off And maybe use this branch to follow up the line of the trunk. But you know, let’s first take out this one. We leave a little stump Which could be a small bark-less part of the branch, which is called a jin. That already helps. We’ll take the bark off here later, and make it maybe a little bit shorter. Alright, so this branch is a little bit higher up, is very big So we’re cutting back all the way to this point And this side branch will continue the line of this branch.

Styling a Jack Pine Bonsai

 

Take this off. Again, I leave a little stump. Can take this off later. Alright, so first main branch. Second branch. We need something in the back as well Which will be created by these branches here. And then the trunk line. Let’s see if we can shorten the trunk And find a branch that maybe can continue the line of the trunk Because right now the trunk is not that big So the tree’s a little bit too high for the size of the trunk. So we’re trying to reduce it to make it look more like a tree, and less like a bush. Alright, so this could be the front of the tree And this would be a logical branch to use as the new trunk line Meaning that this here will go away. Alright, so First branch, second branch. It’s the new trunk line. We’ll use some wire to put this up. Then there’s two branches here that are very thick, and very large So we’ll shorten this as well. And I think these were the big decisions to take. So right now the tree’s really reduced in size, we made a selection in the branches So the next step is some more detail pruning, and then wiring the tree. We remove the bark from the branch which makes the tree look a bit older. We also remove branches that cross the trunk line Especially those blocking our view
on the front of the tree. We also prune heavy upward growth. Finally, we remove dangling growth, to prepare for wiring. Deciding on the design of a bonsai isn’t always easy Especially when a tree is as full and overgrown as this plant. Try to apply the pruning guidelines we just mentioned to your own trees. And if you are interested to learn more about these techniques Consider enrolling in one of our online bonsai courses.

Here, expert teachers explain the relevant techniques And you can ask them questions. For a free lesson, go to: bonsaiempire.com/courses Classic bonsai design usually starts with a main branch on the back of the tree Followed by branches on the sides of the tree. This pattern then continues up until the apex of the tree With branches higher on the trunk gradually reducing in length and size. The front is the most open part of the tree As you want to be able to see the trunk. You can safely prune up to 1/3 of your tree’s foliage. Next we wire the main branches Starting with the lower branches and slowly working our way up to the apex. Try to wire two branches with one piece of wire. Between these two branches make sure to wrap the wire
at least once around the trunk for stability. We aim to apply the wire at an angle of 45 degrees. The wire should be thick enough to hold the branch in the desired shape once we bend it. A rule of thumb is to use a wire of about 1/3 to 1/2 the thickness of the branch you are wiring. We apply a guy-wire to bring this relatively thick branch down. Once you finish wiring the branches you can start shaping them Moving your way up the trunk towards the apex of the tree. One more guy-wire is applied to this branch, to bend it downwards. Alright, we have finished pruning and wiring the tree. I think the planting angle will be more or less the same as it is right now. Maybe tilt a little bit backwards, but not too much. But for a first styling, I think the design has turned out quite nicely. So what will happen next? It’s late fall right now, so we’re going into winter So no repotting No more changing the wires or anything, just let the tree be. And then in the next spring it will respond by growing very strongly So all these little branches will start extending and new buds will also start growing. And then we’ll make sure to pinch back that growth To make the design a little bit more compact. Right now this branch for example, but also this branch, is quite heavy Especially compared to the other branches, more this section.

So over time we might reduce this a little bit in length. Same here. Whereas at the same time this will all be a little bit fuller. We reduced the length of the tree. The original height was more or less around here, so this is the new apex. And that’s it for now. So the next step, perhaps repotting in the next spring But otherwise we’ll wait for a full year from today to give it its second styling. Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel So you can see the progress of this tree over time. Now that we are finished styling the tree We place it in shade for about a month. Keep a close eye on the branches As the wires might create ugly marks on the branches as they grow thicker. Usually wires need to be removed in about 3-4 months’ time. [Before] [After] Learn how to create your own bonsai trees By enrolling in one of our online bonsai courses. We explain techniques like pruning, wiring and repotting And you can ask questions to the teachers. For the curriculums and free lessons, go to: bonsaiempire.com/courses

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About the Author: James

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