How do you shape a pine tree?

neonrider(USDA 8A ^ Sunset 31 ^ Mid-SC)October 18, 2010

How do I "shape/prune" a pine tree to have a wider form and a shorter height and to have a more umbrella-like (or other beautiful) appearance just like an Italian stone pine or Japanese umbrella pine? My pines are regular pines and I begin shaping them after they are 4+ years old and at least 7-8 ft. tall. So far I was snapping the new growth on top of the pines and their heads densed a bit for the last several months only been doing this. How do I make them more umbrella grotesque interesting shapes? Is there a book about it? Thanks.

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You might try "Niwaki: Pruning, Training and Shaping Japanese Garden Trees". Chapter 4 is devoted to pines. Good stuff!

    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 12:48AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i am not familiar with the book ..

but i dont understand how you are going to turn a regular pine into an italian pine ... its all about the annual growth rate ...

you would be much better off starting with the plant you want.. and then shape it.. into the form you want ...

e.g. a p. strobus easily has a growth rate of 1 to 3 feet per year.. sometimes even to 5 feet .... once they get going ... and IMHO .. there is no way you are going to keep it small ...

also.. shoot pinching is ONLY done in spring.. so that new buds can set .... but you seem to indicate you have been doing such all summer long ... a bit of confusion there ... are there any buds on the branch tips???


    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 8:47AM
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neonrider(USDA 8A ^ Sunset 31 ^ Mid-SC)

To: Sluice - Thanks for the book.

To: Ken - the difference is that Italian stone pine is unavailable to buy, I can not find it in a tree form of a reasonable size and growing it from seed takes forever, and their germination rates from seed are low, something like 20%. So I have regular local pines (no idea about their genus name) growing in the yard that are about 4 years old and I keep on pinching the shoots on one level once they reach certain height for an umbrella shape (roughly).

Yes, I've been doing that all year long. The new shoots buds are coming up all year long. I am experimenting with all the pines in my yard by shoot pinching trying to keep them low and wide. Will see how they will end up. One of the pines is growing thicker, but not taller by shoot pinching.

I can not turn a regular pine into a stone pine, but I can experiment to try to create some kind of "umbrella" shape ar at least thicken it. So far all I've been doing was pinching the up-growing shoots once they reach the "ceiling" height set by me. The lower branmches grow upwards and once their shoots reach that level I pinch them at that level. It's a bit like a jewish candelabra.

Has anyone done this and any other methods?

    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 9:19AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

of my 500 conifer collection .. about 200 have come mail order ...

dont limit yourself to what you can find on a road trip ... unless that trip is to a noted conifer nursery ...

it is suggested.. that a one gallon.. properly planted plant.. has the potential to out perform a 3 foot tall transplant in a given 5 year period.. due to the faster 'establishment' ... a small plant can overcome the stress of relocation .. and the bigger you go ... the longer it takes for recovery ..

have fun no matter what you do ... and good luck


    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 9:30AM
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neonrider(USDA 8A ^ Sunset 31 ^ Mid-SC)


I grow stone pines in pots from seed. I'm afraid they will not survive as small plants in "winter" (Z8A) otherwise. They are juvenile size now (about 6 inches fragile plants). When do you think will be the time to plant them into a ground? Will they have a stress and slow establishement when moved from pot to a field soil?

Also, I only experiment by shoot-pinching to regular pines as they are cheap. To Italiaj Stone Pine I don't need to pinch, but only to wait for it to grow u to umbrella shape. ;-)

Should I instead plant stone pine seeds in the field instead of pots to prevent stress of replanting?

Now I use fertil pots (paper) to germninate my trees from seed to make transplanting less stressful.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 10:07AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

ya know.. you start by talking about 7 to 8 footers..

and then happen to add that you are growing seedlings in pots ...

kinda changing the facts on me ...

pots are great for what you are doing... seed starting ....

personally i would never let one go past a foot or two ... in a pot ...

others are more highly qualified for transplanting in your zone ...

i doubt you will have much luck with seeds in a field ... too many variables to deal with .. vermin.. drought.. etc ...

the first thing that pops to mind .... is at the link ... perhaps you can divine some info there ... for shaping pines ....


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 12:45PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

link to the images side

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 12:46PM
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bernd ny zone5

I just bought the book "Niwaki: Pruning, Training and Shaping Japanese Garden Trees". I can always learn something more which might make my 1/2 acre more appealing to me. That is in respect to older trees, but especially about newly planted dwarfs, older dwarfs, and next spring's new ones.

I.e. this book not necessarily is applicable to Japanese gardens, but also to review my staking and pruning of my 5 ft nicely blue Picea pungens 'Procumbens Glauca', and then I have a Pinus nigra 'Opa' with a candle which seems to be too long.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 5:30PM
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