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|Pinus (Pines) Needled evergreen trees and shrubs. Pines are classified by the number of needles in a bundle and by their cones. All White Pines have five needles and so on. Pines have differentiated evolutionally so that they appear in nearly all regions of the northern hemisphere. There are no true pines in the southern hemisphere. We are interested in pines that have great ornamental value without being too large for the small yard or garden and pines that are traditionally used for bonsai. The oldest bonsai plants in the world are pines. In general, they prefer full sun, well drained sandy soil conditions and watering that will allow them to get a little dry between watering periods. Most pines are cold hardy to most regions of the U.S. If a pine does not fit this pattern and requires special treatment it will be mentioned. Please see additional information under Pinus parviflora on grafting for bonsai purposes.|
Please note that spelling, punctuation and capitalization of Japanese cultivar names varies significantly. We have used Steve Pilacik's Japanese Black Pine, 1993 as our reference (available at Matsumomiji.com), except that we have left out the hyphens between the syllables representing the Japanese characters.
Pinus densiflora (Japanese Red Pine, Aka Matsu) -20ø Needles in 2's that are up to 5 inches long but usually shorter. Fast growing tree with reddish bark. In Japan it is thought of as 'feminine' because of the soft informal appearance. Not for hot dry areas, protect from any sort of strong wind.
7200 Pinus densiflora
'Oculus Draconis' A Dragon Eye type yellow variegated
Red Pine. The banding of the variegations is very sharp and quite
striking. Very vigorous and lanky upright growth that must be
controlled tightly for bonsai.
ONE GALLON SIZE Waiting List
'Pendula' A dwarf weeping form where the branches hang
straight down. Good for cascading over a wall or container. Can make a
fabulous larger bonsai.
ONE GALLON SIZE Waiting List
Pinus mugo (Dwarf Swiss Mountain Pine) Most popular landscape pine. Slow rounded growth to about 4 feet, however seedlings are quite variable and smallest densest ones should be chosen. Short dark green 2inch needles in 2's. Plants may be kept short and compact by removing the first flush of new candles in June.
'Valley Cushion' A dwarf form that is very dense and
short needled. Branches tend to be very short, usually less than 4
inches, but in bonsai culture 1 inch or less. Dark green foliage that
is slightly golden yellow in winter. Choice bonsai plant. Cutting
grown, no grafts. |
Specimen Plants available later in 2013
|Pinus parviflora (Five Needle Pine, Japanese White Pine) -20ø One of the most revered plants for traditional Japanese bonsai. Slow growth to 20 feet or more, but usually grown in situations where its growth is controlled. 2-3 inch green needles in 5's are white striped giving them a very blue appearance. Needles reduce quite nicely in older bonsai plants, but tend to be clustered at the tips giving the plants a very open appearance unless the new candles are removed in the spring to encourage shorter and denser side growth. Seedlings are quite variable, and growth is slow and often weak when on their own roots. We have discontinued selling seedlings.|
Most Japanese white pines used for bonsai are grafted cultivars, including a number of dwarfs. Nearly all of the cultivars were developed in Japan over the centuries and have been only recently put into commercial production in the US. There are very few large stock plants available for scion wood here and only a handful of nurseries grafting them, add to this the fact that most of the grafts are too high to be suitable for bonsai and you can see why these plants are so rare and cost so much. Our scion wood is very limited, so we continue to work to build up our stock before releasing plants for sale. We will collect new cultivars and graft as many as we can but it is a slow process.
To complicate matters even further, Japanese white pine is difficult to grow in most regions of this country, even when grafted to a stronger rootstock. It prefers a deep cold winter dormancy, mild dry summers without extreme heat or high humidity. It is susceptible to a number of fungal diseases. Those in the deep south and the hottest areas of the country should probably not attempt to grow this pine unless you have a lot of experience, or know of someone in your area who can successfully grow them. We had problems related to heat and light until we began to grow them under 30% shadecloth in summer (direct sunlight in winter). These pines really perform best in bright morning sunlight rather than under shade cloth as long as the temperature stays below 90F. There are two problems related to summer heat. Above about 95F under direct sunlight the needles will begin to scorch. Above 105F the scorching will be severe and you can expect to lose plants. The other problem is related to the soil temperature. Pots tend to heat up above ambient temperatures in direct sunlight. This can cause root decline and death of the plants. Growing under shadecloth in severe climates solves both of these problems.
So that you are not misled about the size of plants and the time needed to make them into bonsai, let me briefly describe the process. A new or one year graft will have only one shoot grafted onto the understock, it will be from 2 to 6 inches long depending on the cultivar and the length of the candles formed. Only rarely will it have any branches at all at this stage, wood is just too rare to use larger scions. Two year old grafts will usually have grown another center candle and probably some secondary candles (branches) at the base of the new center candle, another 2 to 6 inches. So a two year graft of a nice dwarf will be about four to six inches tall with branches just starting. We recommend that no pruning be done at this stage to insure the survival of the plant. With proper pruning and shaping your plant will not even begin to look like the ones in the picture books until about year five, -and for the slower dwarfs- ten years. We feel that pines are not safe to sell before they reach this two year stage.
Pines for bonsai should be grafted very low so that the union smoothly blends into the nebari (root crown area). It is more difficult and time consuming to graft this way and grafters are only beginning to recognize that there is a market for bonsai, making grafts of this sort very hard to find. The very best grafts are 'low' or 'root grafts' where the scion is grafted below the ring of tissue that marks the crown of the tree and just above some existing roots. These grafts should be buried right up to the graft union after the first year. After a few years it is impossible to tell that these plants were even grafted. We now graft all of our White Pines to Black Pine, Pinus thunbergii, understock. This gives them additional vigor and stronger, more disease resistant roots.
For more information on grafting pines see the article Root Grafts for Bonsai
We have selected several dwarfs that we think will make excellent bonsai. We will only offer two to four year old plants. These plants will be well established and are large enough to have a decent chance of survival. Some of the cultivars that will be available include: 'Koto Hime', 'Kiyo Hime', 'Ogon Janome', 'Hagarumo', 'Zuisho', 'Adcock's Dwarf', 'Ara Kawa', and 'Ko Ko No E'. Quantities released each year will be very small, so if you want them, don't hestitate to order. It is best to sign up for these using the Waiting List instead of waiting for them to be generally available. The waiting time may be one to two years.
'Adcock's Dwarf' This is one of the smallest White Pine
dwarf cultivars. It has short (5/8 inch) needles and a very compact
growth habit. It is a vigorous cultivar and one of the best survivors
of this difficult species. They will make a very fine shohin bonsai. It
has very distinctive long thin cream colored buds and lacks the red
hairs of most of the other cultivars. Pictured is a one of our two year
old grafts. |
7282 Pinus parviflora 'Aoi' This is one of the 'bluest' of the Japanese white pine cultivars. The needles are about midlenght at 1 1/2 inches. We have not grow these cultivar out, but it appears to be semi dwarf in habit. Its beauty is in the color of the needles and in the tight growth habit of the needle clusters, not at all a 'foxtail' appearance as is common in most dwarfs. If unpruned, it grows in an almost perfect closed pyramid. It is quite rare in this country.
'Ara Kawa' This cultivar is one of the 'cork bark' white
pines. It has 'warty' bark even when young which forms small scales as
it ages. It does not form corky ridges as does Nishiki Matsu. It is a
moderately growing cultivar with two inch needles with good blue color.
It is a fairly compact plant and will make fine bonsai over about 18
inches tall. It is absolutely essential that it be grafted low in order
to have a uniform bark transition at the graft union. Pictured is a two
year old graft in a one gallon container. |
Pinus parviflora 'Burk's Bonsai'
This is a shrubby form of very compact habit. The needles are are
similar in length and color to 'Zuisho' but the overall habit is more
ONE GALLON SIZE 2yr old graft $65
Pinus parviflora 'Fu Ku Zu Mi' A popular
cultivar of medium size and compact habit. Needles are a nice blue,
about 1 1/2 inch in length, and slightly twisted.
ONE GALLON SIZE 2yr old graft $65
'Hagarumo' 'Hagarumo' is reputed to be the smallest and most
congested Japanese white pine in nursery production. It is certainly
tiny, often forming no more than a bun of foliage. As it gets older it
begins to open up a bit, but is still very compact. Needle length is
about one inch full size, but will reduce to less than 1/2 inch very
easily. The foliage is a rich blue green color. Grafting these to Pinus
thunbergii understock gives them a marked increase
in vigor. Despite its small stature, it forms a stocky trunk. It also
buds back nicely. Pictured is one of our two year old grafts on Black
ONE GALLON SIZE 2 year old graft $65
parviflora 'Ibo Can'
This cultivar is another of the 'cork bark' white pines. It has also
has'warty' bark. It is similar to 'Ara Kawa' except that it is faster
growing and the needles are longer, about 3 inches full size. Bluish,
slightly twisted needles. Most useful for larger bonsai. It is
absolutely essential that it be grafted low in order to have a uniform
bark transition at the graft union.
'Kiyo Hime'A dwarf with short 1 to 1 1/2 inch blue gray
needles, slow growing, extremely rare in this county. Similar to 'Koto
Hime' except that the needles are a little longer and a bit more
striped. This is a fairly compact cultivar making it an excellent
candidate for bonsai.
'Ko Ko No E' This
is one of the smallest White Pine dwarf cultivars. It has short (5/8
inch) needles with a nice blue green color. It is very slow growing and
forms a broad pyramid. It is slightly more open with longer internodes
than some of the compact cultivars. These plants will make very fine
shohin bonsai. Pictured is a four year old graft.
'Koto Hime' This cultivar is extremely rare in this
country. It has short (one inch) needles and a very compact growth
habit. It is much more vigorous than many of the other dwarf cultivars
and will make a fine shohin. This is Brent's favorite White Pine.
Pictured is one of our two year old grafts to Black pine. |
'Zuisho' This is a short needled bluish green cultivar,
greener than most others. It is rather slow growing, and slower from
grafts than our other cultivars. The claim to fame for 'Zuisho'
is that it can be grown from cuttings, although it is difficult. Stems
are thinner and internodes longer on this cultivar than most of the
others, although with age it does form a nice thick trunk. Grafting to Pinus
thunbergii helps it form thicker stems with more
vigor. Pictured is one of our three year old grafts. |
(Southwestern White Pine) S\M\-20ø\Ls\B
Tall fast growing five needled pine from the Southwest with blue green
foliage much like Japanese White Pine. Very drought and heat resistant.
I believe this pine has a lot of potential for larger bonsai and will
make an acceptable substitute for Japanese White Pine in the hotter and
drier sections of the US where growing Pinus
parviflora is difficult. Needle length can be
reduced to about 1 1/2 to 2 inches from its full length of about 4
inches. It has the same smooth gray bark as other white pines. It is
vigorous and fast growing, developing a sizeable trunk much more
quickly than Japanese White Pine. Another fascinating feature of this
species is its great ability to bud back on older wood, much better
than either Japanese White or Black Pine, or Eastern White Pine, Pinus
I have done heavy trunk chops on this
pine, back to a lower branch, and they nearly always succeed, throwing
lots of new buds on the remaining trunk. I don't know how this species
will perform in the north or the more humid portions of the country,
but by all accounts it is quite cold hardy. Our 2 3/4 inch pots are
unpruned seedlings. One gallon size plants are at least five years old
and have been pruned down to 12 to 16 inches to force back budding.
ONE GALLON SIZE $30
|inus thunbergii (Japanese Black Pine, Kuromatsu) A wonderfully hardy, tough tree that is native to the sea cliffs of Japan, enduring gale winds and salt spray. In Japan, gardeners grow and shape this tree with bamboo and twine, lashing the branches to form broad flat foliage areas to recreate the look of the twisted and tortured cliff dwellers. A twice yearly pruning will create flat pads of very dense short branches and completely control the size and shape of this tree. In June (timing varies with climate) remove all the new candles that are longer than one inch. Many new shorter candles will form a whorl of short branches. In November reduce this whorl of branches to a flat forked branch. In this manner the 3 inch green needles may be reduced to 2 or even 1 inch. Some of the oldest living bonsai plants are Japanese Black Pine. It has been a traditional bonsai plant for hundreds of years.|
See the notes under Pinus parviflora for information on grafting techniques. Again, as in Pinus parviflora, scion wood and decent grafts have been hard to obtain, and our cultivars have been held back to obtain more wood for the future.
A progress report on our work to offer you cultivars: We have been collecting Pinus thunbergii cultivars now for many years and grafting them to build a stock plant collection. For several years we have grafted small batches in numbers that will allow us to now offer some cultivar selections. Others will be ready in a year or two. Our attempts to purchase suitable grafted cultivars has just not worked out. We suffered too many loses and the grafts were too poor to be used for bonsai, thus we have decided to offer only our own root grafts (very low grafts that can be buried up to the union). We are also evaluating the cultivars to see which will make the best bonsai.
In the dwarf category or yatsubusa type, we have settled basically on three, 'Koto Buki', 'Yatsubusa' and 'Shun sho Matsu'. All of these have excellent dwarf characteristics but are quite different from each other. 'Koto Buki' is very dark green, very short needled, somewhat open and thick stemmed, a true dwarf. 'Yatsubusa' (at least the one we have selected, there may be some trouble with the naming) is very much like the species except for shorter needles and very compact dense growth (short internodes). This cultivar breaks buds everywhere. The growth rate is similar to the species, but the internodes are very much shorter, creating an incredibly compact plant. The other short needled cultivar, although not a true dwarf is 'Shun Sho Matsu'. It has incredibly short needles for a full size plant, ranging from about 1 to 1 1/2 inch. We are still experimenting this cultivar to see if it can be controlled to make good bonsai, but we think it has real potential.
Especially exciting is the progress toward offering cork bark Black Pines, Nishiki Matsu. These pines are very rare in this country, and only a few are in commercial production. Some of the ones we have collected are unnamed, that is, the cultivar name has been lost, and we are attempting to identify them. Others are known. One of the most outstanding plants so far is 'Brocade' (naming is uncertain and it appears to be identical to 'Hayabusa'). It is a fast corking cultivar as well as a yatsubusa type. This is very exciting since most of the Nishiki Matsu tend to have long whisker-y needles. Other cultivars we are now grafting include 'Hachi Gen', 'Kyokko', 'Kyokko Yatsubusa', 'Katsuga', 'Akame', 'Fuji', 'Mi Nishiki', 'Nishiki Tsukasa', 'Tai Hei', and 'Hayabusa'.
And lastly, another new development is our success in growing the Nishiki types from cuttings. This completely avoids the severe problem of grafting cork bark types. Even the surface roots of cutting grown plants will be corked. Our four year old cutting grown plants are beginning to swell at the crown, a very good sign for a good nebari and lower trunk. Thus far we have had success with 'Hachi Gen', 'Mi Nishiki' and 'Akame'. Since the move to the new nursery, Brent has not been able to set up a suitable propagation room for pine cuttings, so it is possible that we will never again have a supply of these. Once they are gone, there are gone. For this reason, many are being held back for training as larger plants. Each year a few may become available.
The supply of cultivars is always limited. If you want one of these don't delay in ordering. They will sell out very quickly. It is strongly recommended that you use the Waiting List.
For more information see the articles Training Black Pine for Bonsai and Growing Black Pine for Bonsai. Also see our Blog for several more pine articles.
Our larger trees are seedling grown plants that have been continuously
pruned to form bushy plants suitable for bonsai or shaped plants. Our
larger plants will not look like the plants commonly found in
nurseries. We begin pruning them at the seedling stage to encourage low
branching. Unlike deciduous plants, pines do not easily break buds from
older wood, so that if you do not have low branching from the beginning
you will never have it. On our trees you will see many small branches
very low on the trunk so that there are many choices for branches later
on. But leave all the branches, especially those very low on the trunk
for several years to increase the diameter of the trunk at the base and
obtain good taper. Two gallon size are developed to
have lower branches, trunk movement and taper.
2 3/4 INCH POTS $8 Sorry, Sold Out
'Akame' A cork bark type black pine with
very long (five
inches or more) whiskery needles. It is popular in the US and the trunk
and branches cork up quite rapidly. It is a vigorous grower. This
cultivar roots more easily from cuttings than others and we have both
cutting grown and grafted plants. The pictured tree is a typical 2yr
old one gallon graft. Cutting grown plants will already start
show swelling at the nebari. Some older cutting grown trees will be
offered in our Specimen Catalog
ONE GALLON SIZE 2yr old graft $65
Pinus thunbergii 'Ban Sho Ho'
This is a shrubby form of very compact habit. The needles are medium to
long at about three to four inches. It breaks back very nicely and will
make excellent medium sized bonsai at about 18 inches to 2 feet. This
cultivar is intermediate in size and habit between 'Yatsubusa'
and the species (seedlings).
'Brocade' A dwarf cork barked cultivar (Nishiki Kuromatsu)
with very dense foliage. It buds back incredibly, very similar to 'Yatsubusa'
in this respect. Fantastic corky ridges begin forming very early and
are quite pronounced even in a five year old graft. This will make one
of the finest small Nishiki black pines. The needles will also reduce
nicely, easily attaining about two inches or less in length. Very low
grafts are a must for such a small pine, and ours are right on top of
existing roots. This cultivar is very similar to, and may be the same
as, 'Hayabusa'. At present we are keeping the two
separate and offering both. Pictured is '01 graft in a one gallon
thunbergii 'Fuji' A
cork bark type black pine. I have not had this pine long enough to
adequately describe it. Steve's Pilacik's description from Japanese
Black Pine is "A good corking variety with a little bit
larger needle than usual. The grafted trees produce a thicker bark in a
shorter period of time than the cuttings."
Pinus thunbergii 'Hachi
Gen' (Cork Bark Black Pine) We obtained this cultivar
from Ken Sugimoto. As with many Nishiki
cultivars, there is a problem with the naming. We are giving it the
name supplied by Ken Sugimoto, but we have not been able to find it
described in any text. It was reported to us that one Japanese company
has it listed as 'Hachi Gen Kyokko', but it does not appear to be
related to the well known cultivar 'Kyokko'. It has needles shorter
than 'Kyokko' and it does not cork as fast.
It is a cork bark type black pine (Nishiki Kuro Matsu) that forms corky ridges rather slowly, fully developing in about twenty years. Grafts and cuttings develop bark that begins to 'crack' at about three years. The needles have good green color and are quite similar to species needles, not overly long (about three inches full size). It has white buds and is vigorous growing, breaking new buds quite easily. These are cutting grown plants, so there is no graft and the corking will extend down to the surface roots. All these plants have good low branching with the main leader still attached so you can decide how much low caliper you want. Pictured is a 4 year old cutting grown plant.
See SPECIMEN CATALOG
A dwarf cork barked cultivar (Nishiki Kuromatsu) with very dense
foliage. See the description of 7423 'Brocade'
'Katsuga' A cork bark type black pine that we obtained from
Steve Pilacik. I have not had this pine long enough to adequately
describe it. Steve's description from Japanese Black Pine
is "A good variety for bonsai. It trunks up well, has red buds and deep
green needles that reduce well. It also ramifies nicely". Pictured is a
two year old low grafted plant. |
ONE GALLON SIZE 2yr old graft $65
thungbergii 'Koto Buki'
This is one of the very few true dwarf Japanese black pine
cultivars. The full size needles are just over one inch, and unlike 'Shun
it slow growing with fairly short internodes. Another nice quality is
that grafted plants tend to buttress right at the graft union, so a
well executed low graft like ours will result in an excellent
base for the smallest black pine bonsai possible. We have to charge a
bit more for these due to the difficulty in grafting them.
Pinus thunbergii 'Kyokko'
A cork bark type black pine with long (four inches or more) needles. It
is very popular in the US and the trunk and branches cork up nicely. It
is a vigorous grower.
ONE GALLON SIZE 2YEAR OLD GRAFT $65
Yatsubusa' A cork bark type black pine that was obtained from
Steve Pilacik. It is reputedly a yatsubusa
form of 'Kyokko', but I have yet to confirm this.
Our young plants are beginning to cork irregularly along the trunk and
branches at about four years.
ONE GALLON SIZE 2YEAR OLD GRAFT $65
7445 Pinus thunbergii 'Kujacka' We obtained this plant from Herb Kelley of Kelly's Plant World, and there may be trouble with the naming, I am working on it. It is a variegated needled type with sharp bands of bright yellow variegations in winter. It is clearly not 'Beni Kujacka' since the banding does not turn red after freezing. It is a somewhat lanky plant with thin stems and long fine needles of about four inches. It has red buds and thus may be a Japanese Red pine x Black pine cross. The variegations are very striking in winter.ONE GALLON SIZE 2yr old graft $65
Nishiki' (Cork Bark Black Pine) We obtained this
cultivar from Chuck Shane of Bonsai Grower nursery in Sebastopol CA. In
the late 1970's He obtained this cultivar from a collector
who is no longer with us, so the history, and possibly an earlier
cultivar name is lost.
It is a cork bark type black pine (Nishiki Kuro Matsu) that forms corky ridges rather slowly, fully developing in about twenty years. Grafts and cuttings develop bark that begins to 'crack' at about five years. Ten year old plants show thickening in one plane, similar to the 'two winged' phase of corking. The needles have good green color and are quite similar to species needles, not overly long (about three inches full size). It has white buds and is vigorous growing, breaking new buds quite easily. These are cutting grown plants, so there is no graft and the corking will extend down to the surface roots. All these plants have good low branching with the main leader still attached so you can decide how much low caliper you want.
Specimen Plants Available NOW!
Tsukasa' A cork bark type black pine with medium to long
needles (three to four inches). It is very popular in the US and the
trunk and branches cork up nicely. It is a vigorous grower with very
long internodes if not controlled. 'Cracking' of the bark starts at
about four to five years and is first evident with a swelling at the
base of the trunk.
thunbergii 'Shun Sho
Matsu' A very short needled, white bud cultivar. It
undoubtedly has the shortest needles of any larger Black Pine, ranging
from about 1 to 1 1/2 inches. These short needles, fat buds, and long
thick internodes give it a very odd appearance. However, I think that
this has the potential of being a very nice small bonsai with hard
pruning to keep it under control. This cultivar breaks buds on old wood
very easily. It should trunk up very quickly.
ONE GALLON SIZE 2YEAR OLD GRAFT $65
thunbergii 'Tai Hei'
This is another cork bark type black pine with that we obtained from
Steve Pilacik. I haven't had it long enough to adequately evaluate it.
Steve describes it as "An excellent nishiki
for small to medium sized bonsai. Truly a white budded gem".
7465 Pinus thunbergii
'Thunderhead' A dwarf form making a broad dense mound. Dark
green needles contrasted with white buds. This cultivar has been given
short shrift in the bonsai community, mainly because of its medium to
long needles (three to four inches). However, I have found that the
needles can be reduced to acceptable lengths, and that its excellent
ability to back bud makes it a decent candidate for smaller pine
bonsai, perhaps not quite shohin though. It looks very much like a
slightly larger version of 'Yatsubusa'
'Yatsubusa' A congested Japanese black pine with very short
internodes and stark white fat buds. The foliage and bark are typical
of the species, but it is the ability of this cultivar to break buds everywhere
that make it so intriguing. Four or five year old grafts are so dense
that you cannot see into them. It is a fast growing cultivar despite
its short stature and will form a stout trunk as fast as the species.
This is a superb choice for smaller pine bonsai, and our most popular
Black Pine cultivar. Pictured is a two year '01 graft.
ONE GALLON SIZE 2YEAR OLD GRAFT Waiting List
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