Care and maintenance of bonsai pines
Pine bonsai

Pine bonsai

There are a wide variety of pines used for bonsai. These tips will apply to most. This advice is not a comprehensive guide, it's intended to tide you over until you can consult an authoritative source.

Watering. Don’t allow your tree to dry out. The easiest way to establish a watering schedule is to dig a half inch into the soil. If it’s moist you can go another day. If not moist, it’s time to water. Almost all pines do well in very coarse soil.

Light. Pines do best in full sunlight. Anything less will have an affect on budding.

Pest control. Pines will have pests like wooly aphids and mealy bug on new candles. You can either use a broad spectrum systemic insecticide or blast the critters off with the pressure nozzle on your hose. Needle cast is a fungal disease that manifests a orange band in the middle part of the needle. Control is difficult so consult a local arborist for the treatment of course in your area.

Pruning. Pine needles are persistent for up to 5 years. With ponderosa and bristlecone pines you can remove needles older than 3 years. Most other pines you can leave one year’s needles. Ponderosas do not bud on old wood. They are slow growing so what you see is what you have. Other pines can be pruned back, but, be sure to leave a fair amount of green at the end of the branch. When the buds have elongated into candles you should break the candles in half.

Repotting. Every three to five years remove the tree from it’s pot. Trim an inch or so around the entire root ball. Trim off about one third from the bottom of the root ball. Add soil to the pot and around the edges and you’re good to go. You will do this as the tree is budding. Use a little of the old soil to inoculate the fresh soil.

Temperature. Pines are wide ranging so you’ll need check your particular variety.

Fertilizing. Any houseplant fertilizer will work. Apply once a month at the recommended level.