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.
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