Note: this guide also applies in large extent to other species of Pines. Most common species include; Pinus Thunbergii (Japanese Black Pine), Pinus Sylvestris (Scotch Pine), Pinus Mugo (Mountain Pine) and the Pinus Parviflora (Japanese White Pine). Although not easy to care for (and not at all easy to style either), the Japanese Black Pine is a classic species of tree to use for Bonsai purposes, also very popular in Japan.
Pinus species that have short needles are most suitable to grow Bonsai from. Black Pines are very tolerant of poor conditions, surviving in nature on nutrient-lacking soils. The tree has thick needles up to 12cm (4’’) long, which can be shortened by regular pinching.
If you need help identifying your tree, try our Bonsai tree identification guide.
Specific Bonsai care guidelines for the Japanese Pine
Position: Outside with lots of sun, this also helps decrease the needle size (needles grow longer if the tree doesn’t get enough sunlight). Pine trees are very hardy, but still need to be protected during the winter.
Watering: Be careful not to over-water, as Bonsai Pines dislike permanent moist. Good drainage is required.
Feeding: Use a normal fertilizer on a monthly base to keep the tree healthy.
Pruning: Pines have to be handled with care, although they can withstand pruning quite well; never style the tree more than ones every year (preferably in early spring).
Repotting: Repot in spring before the buds begin to swell, every two to three years. Preferably use a well draining soil mixture.
Propagation: From seeds in April, otherwise use cuttings during the summer.
For more detailed information on these techniques, try our Bonsai tree care section.
Example of a Pinus Silvestris Bonsai tree