Unusual Pine to Decandle: Loblolly
The search for new, interesting native plants for bonsai continues unabated. After finding a bonsai-worthy plant, a secondary puzzler is what known techniques might we apply to the new species.
Loblolly or Southern Yellow Pine, Pinus taeda, is a three-needle pine from the southeastern United States. Covering vast areas, it’s believed to be the second most common North American tree. The thick bark recalls Black Pine and Ponderosa. And while its got 7″ long needles, we have a well understood technique for handling such crimes against bonsai: Decandling.
Gary Wood collected this Loblolly in Alabama, restyled and decandled since by Andrew Robson. Andrew has decandled it for the past three years, with excellent and predictable response. The technique he applied is exactly the same as Japanese Black Pine, removing the entire spring shoot and reducing the needles surrounding the cut site. He finds it so strong that he times the decandling like shohin Black Pine, needing a shorter growing season to reflush.
Ever heard that we should only decandle our 2-needle pines? Like many myths, it oversimplifies a fact. Yes, we do decandle Japanese Black Pine, which is 2-needled. We DON’T decandle the 2-needled Lodgepole Pine or Mugo Pine, though, among others. And the Loblolly, expanding this puzzler to more needles, is a 3-needled pine that may be successfully decandled.
Try this post for the difference between decandling and pinching pines.