At the June ACBS meeting, we talked a little bit about how to shape our pine projects. The following is a few notes on what we talked about:
- The development of your pine may occur in stages—trunk, branches, foliage pads, refinement and maintenance. Pines are typically a five year project.
- Keep in mind the pine’s growth habit—it has three years worth of needles at this point in the year: the past two which are dark green, and the young light green shoots or candles on the ends of branches. A pine will want to extend outward to get maximum light, and it can grow out of control, if you don’t pinch.
- When pruning your pine remember to keep in mind your purpose. Are you still at the stage where you are trying to develop the trunk, do you want to let a shoot extend some to begin to develop a branch? Are you beginning to create foliage pads?
- Visualize what is happening with the pine’s growth, so you can be selective in which shoots you allow to extend a bit and which you remove.
- Develop and maintain the foliage pads with regular pinching. Keep in mind also that you are keeping the pads compact. Often this means removing the shoots on the ends of branches.
- Remember the Christmas tree growers trick—you can cut into the 2nd year needles if you need to shorten. New shoots will develop back inside these needles.
- Also, here is one other detail that I forgot to mention that will help the partly developed pine. It is a trick that Ken Huth taught me. Sometimes the pine’s branches will get a “French poodle look.” You can improve this look, and at the same time, begin to develop lines and spaces on your tree. Simply pull off the needles on the underside of the branch. I like to use mechanics gloves to do this, as the rubber covered fingers will easily grip and pull off the underside needles—see photos
Creating lines (underside of branches)and spaces (between branches) will also give your pine the look of an old tree