Black Pine Bonsai

The Black Pine Bonsai have dark green needles which are quite long and thick. The bark has a rocky texture to it. It likes to be in full sun and it therefore follows that it must be protected from cold winds and frosts.However if the sun becomes really scorching it may benefit from a little shade.

Black Pine Bonsai like to be watered when the soil is drying out, they are a drought resistant species and it’s not a good idea to keep the soil permanently wet as the roots will rot and ultimately lead to death of the tree. Sparingly water in Winter but lots in Summer, especially if the soil is free draining. Which of course, is what it should be.

Repotting is done every two or four years in Spring (early to mid) using a free draining soil type. Mix Akadama, which is a soft, fired, volcanic clay with other soils or use on its own. A professional bonsai soil mix is a good idea to use as they are designed to be non-compacting, thus keeping the right amount of air and water in the soil.

Can be grown from fresh seed, if you want to wait a good few years, but I would personally buy an established bonsai or some garden centre stock.

You can prune throughout the growing season by removing long shoots and overcrowded twigs should be cut in Summer. Also during the growing season Black Pine Bonsai can be fed every two to three weeks.

Root Pruning Bonsai

Pruning of the roots is best done at the time of re-potting. Usually early spring but can be slightly later if new shoots haven’tbegun to develop.

The idea for root pruning is to cut the roots back to allow a fresh supply of soil between the pot and the root. Root pruning is also to encourage the finer, feeder roots; It is these feeder roots that more easily absorb the nutrients from the growing medium.

If a tree never gets root pruned it will become pot-bound and this is never a good situation for any plant. There will not be enough space in the pot for a sufficient amount of soil to keep the plant alive.

How to Root Prune

Lift the bonsai from the pot and shake out the old soil. You can use a blunt stick to remove soil from in between the roots so that the roots don’t get damaged. As your collection grows you may wish to invest in your hobby and buy a root rake or root hook.

Cut the longer, thicker roots first using sharp bonsai shears. Cut these roots further back than the thinner roots. Then cut the thinner roots and finally the finer roots can be trimmed.

Cutting the thicker roots further back gives more space for the finer roots which is what we want for a healthy bonsai.

The roots should be sprayed with water after root pruning is finished so that they don’t dry out to quickly while you prepare the pot ready for replanting.

Japanese Maple

The Japanese Maple or Acer is one of my favourite trees, there are so many different varieties, with different colours from reds and purples to greens and yellows, that you could have a complete collection of Acer bonsai.

Acer Palmatum, Japanese Maple, in autumn
Japanese Maple (acer Palmatum) in autumn

© Walter Pall |


If you keep your Acer outside it does like full light but will benefit from being shaded during hot summer sun. The Japanese Maple should be kept out of direct sunshine during the hottest part of the day.

Also during the colder months it should be protected from severe frost and be sheltered, their leaves will curl back and die very quickly if exposed to cold heavy draughts (same as a normal size Acer)

Japanese Maple is suitable for most styles and can be propagated from seeds, cuttings, layering and air -layering.

If you have one in your garden why not have a go at air-layering! you get a bonsai for free and an older looking tree in a shorter space of time.


Japanese Maple (Acer Palmatum) in summer

© Walter Pall |


Younger specimens can be repotted every other year and older ones can be done every 2 or 3 years. Spring is the time to repot and pruning the roots by up to half can be carried out at the same time.

Pests and Diseases

Mildew, Aphids or greenfly and root rot can affect yourJapanese Maple.

How to Water Bonsai

The best way to water bonsai is from the top. It sounds obviuos but it is surprising how many people submerge the pot underwater everyday. Having said that, however, if you have an imported bonsai that is planted in a clay like soil, then standing the bonssai in a bowl of water once a week or thereabouts is beneficial to making sure it gets a thorough wetting. (They should really be repotted).

More trees are killed by incorrect watering

You can use a specialized Watering Can or any small watering can with a long neck and a fine rose. water thoroughly until the water comes through the hole in the pot, but how do you know when to do that?

Expose the top of the soil with your finger or a stick.

  • If it is dry you must water
  • If it is very wet then don’t water
  • If it is damp you can leave it for a short time.
  • You could also push a small stick into the pot all the way to the bottom and leave it there, that way you can take the stick out everyday and see how wet or damp it is at all levels in the pot.

    Not enough water can kill a bonsai in a few days, whereas overwatering takes longer.

    A dry root becomes brittle and can’t absorb water, whereas a waterlogged root becomes rotten and spreads back into the healthier root thereby depriving the tree of more healthy root to take up moisture.
    So your Bonsai leaves are losing colour and wilting! Is it underwatering or overwatering?
    Most beginners think it is underwatering but now we know it could be either.

    So if your bonsai doesn’t respond to watering after a day or two then it must be due to overwatering.

    How to dry waterlogged roots

    Carefully lift the tree out of its pot and plant it in a larger container of dry sharp sand, keeping the rootball intact.

    Use a stick to check if it is drying out, and only water sparingly at first when it has dried out, you may need to trim the ends of the roots if they are rotting badly. This metod may or may not work but it is worth a try.