An Observation on Pinus Cembra Dean Atkinson

An Observation on Pinus Cembra
by Dean Atkinson, Four Seasons Bonsai Club of Michigan

This past summer, I’ve worked on two Swiss Stone Pines. Both were styled in club demonstrations. They were bought as seedlings, about 6 in., and placed in the ground six years ago. They grew very strong, putting out 3 to 5 candles on all branches and apex. In August the first fall, I chose the branches for pine tree style, taking out the excess. Each spring I removed the center and largest of the candles completely, cutting all the others about half.

In April 1997 they had grown to 15 and 20 inches with trunks from 11⁄2 to 2 inches. They were taken out to the ground and placed in plastic dishpans in the bonsai mix. One demo was done in May, the other in June.

In the pre-styling preparation (removing dead needles and trash), I discovered many back buds and tiny branches on the trunk and larger branches.

During the styling, all the needles except the new ones were cut off, leaving the inside exposed to the sun. This is the formula for five needle pines; Cembra has five needles.

Someone might object to the overly long needles of the Cembra as not being good bonsai material. Using both methods, cutting candles in the spring and needles in the fall, could provide desired results. “Try it, it might work” has always been my way of looking at material. I’ve had some disappointments but some surprises also.

One tree is an informal upright, the other is a semi-cascade. The semi-cascade branch could be removed leaving a very nice informal upright. Maybe in the future.

There is a variation in the color of these two, one has a blue stripe, similar to Japanese White, the other is bright green.

In the first week of November, the growing pans were given a liberal application of cotton seed meal and placed in the ground. This application should help in the back budding. I’ll know next spring.

If someone with more experience than I would like to comment on this method, please do so.