There are many varieties of white-pine (Pinus parviflora and pentaphylla), but all have one thing in common the white, central or stomatic band down the length of the leaf or needle.
The popular white-pine bonsai came from China, Japan and elsewhere in the Pacific Asian-rim area. They are generally styled very simply, with a twist or two in the trunk, and invariably grafted onto a black-pine base, which is stronger.
Some varieties have very dense needle growth, while others have very short needle clusters. However, all are Pinus parviflora, with many various cultivar, including Kokono, Miyajima and Brevifolia. The difference between the white pine and other pine species is that the white-pine has a cluster of five needles around each bud. Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) and Black-pines (Pinus thunbergii) have two clusters of needles, and some species such as Red-pine (Pinus densiflora), can have clusters of two or three needles, depending on variety.
The white-pines natural growth habit is low and spreading, while as a bonsai it can take any shape. The common style however, is a pyramid form, with the branches rising in clearly defined steps to the apex, or tip of the tree.
Pines need semi-dry conditions in the winter, and the soil should be kept slightly damp in the growing season. Pine bonsai do not like very wet conditions. Only spray the needles from summer to early autumn, in the morning and late evening.
Next Article: Bud development in Pines
If you are new to the world of bonsai, you may want to consider starting with a Jack Pine bonsai tree. Jack Pines (Pinus banksiana) are pretty hardy and may be a little more forgiving than some of the more delicate trees typically used for bonsai gardening.
A novice to this type of gardening may achieve better results, and gain confidence along the way, when starting with a Jack Pine bonsai that is already potted and well established.
Pruning, watering, and otherwise maintaining the optimum growing environment can be mastered without having to worry about the intricacies of the sprouting process.Once you have become confident of your ability to maintain your with jack pine tree a measurable degree of success, you may feel adventurous enough to attempt bonsai beginning with a seed instead of an established plant.
It takes quite a while for a pine tree seed of any variety to sprout so patience is in order at this stage as well as at all other stages of cultivation for your Jack Pine bonsai. When in its natural habitat, Jack Pines grow less than 12 inches per year. The growth rate in the bonsai environment is much smaller, of course.
In a natural setting, a Jack Pine thrives in poor, sandy soil and can withstand windy sites. They’re often used for their hardiness when conservation measures and ease in growing are important.
When cultivating your Jack Pine bonsai, either from seed or from an established plant, try to recreate the tree’s natural environment as much as possible for the best results. You’ll be stifling its natural growth process so it’s more important than ever to provide the very best growing environment for it.
Since this tree is known for its hardiness in its native habitat, trying a Jack Pine bonsai project may be one way to take a little of the intimidation out of this fascinating gardening method.