bonsai tree care

Big difference between ‘Decandling’ and ‘Breaking’ pine buds …

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There is a storm of confusion around these two techniques … and it’s one of those things that do not we get wrong. Pines take a couple of years to get back on track, once off the track, and so they make out our mistakes for a long time.

I’ll try to make this short and sweet. For starters, how do we distinguish decandling break / pinch?

Breaking / Pinching means taking part of the season shoot , usually with the fingers, since filming is spreading in early to mid spring. This is before the needles have emerged.


you Scots pine candles before pressing.


With the fleshy part of your fingers, pinching the candle according to their strength, taking more off the stronger, less for weaker, none of weaker .


pinched right sail about half.


left pinched candle.

Decandling means cutting full sail off pine late spring. Often, new needles have already left.


Japanese black pine candles before decandling. (Apologies, this photo is more than a month before decandling, so their sails may have needles in them when decandle.)


With sharp scissors outbreak, candle is cut at the base.


Note small candles at the base. These can also be cut. We are trying to “restore spring” by decandling, and therefore have to cut everything.


Cut small candles.


Decandling complete.

Both techniques are appropriate … one is not colder than another, one you will not win awards and not the other … they just apply them to different pines.

Candles ras pines individual like Japanese white, Lodgepole, Shore, Scots, Limber, may be broken or perforated .

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Candles several ras pines -Japanese Black and Red-can be decandled .

say MAY because only grow strongly pines in good sun should decandled or tight.

I not go into the many details of these techniques (and there are many of them), although some other blog posts here and Bonsai Tonight cover many of them. Just I wanted to clarify the main technique for each group of pine trees.

For a neater explanation of why a technique works for some pines and not for others, hopefully the following will clarify:

  • The reason why it is important to keep these techniques straight flush is that individual pines do not have the energy to grow twice a year. If decandle a Japanese white pine or lodgepole pine, or any other in the weaker group, which grow buds that summer that do not open up. That means we just created a summer that didn ‘t produce any needle. These buds will open next year. And just our pines weakened dramatically. Instead, pinches, and leave some needles that spring to grow this year.
  • Alternatively if decandle one, multiple as a Japanese Black Pine ras vigorous strong pine will grow buds that summer that open and grow buds and needles. We cut everything out, right time of year (which differs depending on where we live.) Usually it is decandling late May to mid-June. Restart the spring at the time decandling, and that gives an adequate number of weeks for new sprouts growing out of their needles, shorter this time.

(I did promise a second article on Bunjin, and will be next, the timing of this work seemed more urgent pine … thanks for patience.)

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Big difference between ‘Decandling’ and ‘Breaking’ pine buds …

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