Wish me luck…

I candle-cut this pine on 7/1 hoping it would finish the new flush of growth in time for the September show. With 50 days behind and 20 days ahead, it’s going to be close. Typically it takes 100 days for JBP to grow and harden off a second flush after candle cutting. I’m banking on short needles, and not completely hardened off by show time.

Here is a shot from earlier this month:

And a close up from today:

It’s gonna have to hurry. We have had blazing heat in July, followed by cloudy days and intense rain in August, which hasn’t helped. Had it been the other way around, it may be different. I moved the tree to the sunniest place I have, and loaded up the soil with fertilizer.

I’ll know in a couple weeks if I blew the timing or not. Once the candles start showing needles, photosynthesis picks up, and growth accelerates. But, wish me luck.

JBP Summer Candle-cutting time

Throughout this tree’s 12 years of training, I have photographed and documented every step in detail, to study the cause-effect response of each technique applied, as well as the timing of that response. One thing I have learned is that candle-cutting in summer should be done about 100 days before your area’s average first frost. This gives new growth time to grow and harden off before winter, but not so much time that needles get too long.

Summer candle-cutting is the removal of this year’s growth, right down to the base. It leaves last year’s growth in place, so basically it makes the tree look like it did in March before it started growing.

New growth extends past the wires
The candle is cut here

Why summer candle-cut? It is a refinement technique which forces the tree to produce multiple shoots from the point where a single shoot was. This increases ramification and density. It also results in shorter internodes and shorter needles.

Here is a progression of this year’s growth.

March, 2021
May 2021
July 2021
Top decandled
Continuing down
Nearly done

This tree was candle-cut just a bit early this year because it was accepted into the 7th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition in New York this September. My timing is to have new shoots just open in time for the show, so the shoots will be full, but needles will be short. Most of last year’s needles will be removed just prior to the show.

For more on the process of training this tree, check out my book, 100+ pages of photographs showing a virtual time-lapse training of a JBP.:


Japanese Black Pine winter work

Wired in 2019, repotted in March 2020, candle-pruned in July 2020. Here is how it looked in December 2020:

Time to clean up moss from the soil and lower trunk as well.

After pulling old needles, balancing strength by also pulling some new needles, and reducing shoots down to evenly-sized pairs. Upper part complete:

Lower branches complete:

Needle pulling and balancing complete, and moss cleaned up:

Night shot shows the profile nicely:

Since it had grown considerably after it was wired last, it was time to remove the wires and prepare it to wire again. Wires removed, and soil top-dressed:

Now the tree is ready for a new round of wiring…which was done by Bjorn at Eisei-en in early February. Here is the result of this round:

The plan is to allow the lower branches to continue extending to accent the trunk: