Pine Yearling

This pine seedling was grown from seed planted in late summer 2002. The four seedlings that resulted were overwintered in a well-lit, frost free shed inside an unheated propagator. The following spring they were pricked out into individual pots. As this is my first experiment with black pine seedlings, I decided to treat them all differently and see if there were any major changes. Two of the seedlings had their trunks wired when they were 1 year old. Now at 18 months old in the spring of 2004, one of the unwired seedlings is transplanted into a 20cm waterplant pot.

The seedling

Late March 2004.

This is the seedling in it's first pot. The current soil is simply seed compost which is sandy, but not as free draining as bonsai soil. The growth of the seedling so far has been disappointing. Although the newer needles are nice and compact, I'd rather see plenty of strong growth at this point, and worry about needle size when the tree is larger.

Pot removed

The seedling just knocks out of its pot like any other seedling. You can see that the soil has no added grit.

Soil removed

Thanks to the removal the tap root when potting up, there is a nice show of fine roots.

Roots washed

Washing the roots with a water spray not only keeps the roots moist, but removes more dirt with minimal damage to the fine root hairs. Looking more clearly at the roots shows a large(ish) root splitting with one division doubling back on itself. I chose to remove the kinked root as there was plenty of fine rootage on the rest of the plant.

Root Placement

The seedling is placed onto the lower layer of soil (roughly 2 of grit, 2 of akadama and 1 of fine chipped bark). The roots are sperad radially in the hope that eventually this will give a good root base on the adult tree. A wire is used to secure the seedling. I didn't tighten this any more that was required to keep the seedling upright as I didn't want to damage any roots. I also used a small piece of plastic hose to protect the roots from the wire.

Potting finished

The rest of the soil is added. You can see here that the pot is more like a sieve. This is a pot for a water plant which I am experimenting with as a way of growing bonsai. I have previously used this to encourage fine roots on an ailing junpier with moderate success (I'll try the spagnum moss trick next time). However, after reading an article in issue 67 of 'Bonsai Europe' magazine which describes how Japanese growers use collanders for pots to encourage rapid fattening of seedlings, I decided to give this a try.

With such free-draining pots, higher levels of fertiliser can be used without increasing the risk of root-burn as excedd fertiliser does not remain in the pot, but gets quickly washed out. The size of the pot allows good lateral root growth. I am worried that my pot is too deep, but we'll just have to wait and see.

Watered in greenhouse.

Finally the seedling goes into intensive care in a shady spot in my unheated greenhouse. In a few weeks it will be slowly introduced outside. Feeding will commense in 6 to 8 weeks.

Will it work?