April 2017

In the spring of 2017 I was in the process of buying this particular Ponderosa for an upcoming workshop with Bjorn Bjorholm being held in June of 2017.

November 2016

This is how I saw the tree on Andy Smith’s website in November 20016. Golden Arrow Bonsai

April 2017

This is the tree right after it arrived at my house in April, 2017.

June 2017

Bjorn had suggested to cut off the left side of the tree and to use the one main branch to bend down and around to set the structure. He also suggested to fertilize the tree for a couple years to to get the tree nice and healthy before any more real work. If you would like to read how to handle Ponderosa Pine Bonsai please see this article. Ponderosa Pine Management 

June 2017

Below is the tree after we had cut the left side off. After we wrapped the trunk with raffia, applied wire and made the bend.

June 2017

Here is the tree after I got it back home. I tossed on some Sumo Cakes fertilizer and watered.

By fertilizing all growing season long, you are promoting longer needles. In this early stage of development that is important. This helps create back budding.

July 2017

You can see that the needles are longer than they were previously. This is great because we want to collect all of the energy we can to produce back buds.

September 2017

Just two months later in September, you can see how long the needles are. I live in Minnesota, USA. Ponderosa Pine will extend their needles all the way through August and into early September here.


After loading this tree with nutrients all year long in 2017 and increasing the needle length, I knew that I was going to have back budding. But I really had no idea how much. I would find out though as spring arrived and this tree woke up from it’s winter domancy.

April 2018

The tree came out of its winter quarters and is out enjoying the sun.

May 2018

You can see the candles extended. Buds are opening and pushing new growth. This is when I saw just how much back budding I had received from the fertilization in 2017. I started fertilizing right away this year as well.

May 2018

These images below were taken to show just the amount of growth and back budding I was getting on this tree. I was amazed.

June 2018

You can see the needles emerging from the candles.

July 2018

The longer needles in this image are the fully grown needles from 2017. The needles this year are shorter.

It does not really surprise me that the whole bonsai thing works. It makes sense. The more leaves or needles a tree has, the more the energy gets dispersed into growing more new leaves or needles. This results in smaller leaves or needles.

To see it take place on this Ponderosa Pine Bonsai to this scale was something to see. I was shocked that there was this much reduction.

Below are two images. Both were taken at the end of August 2018. One shows the tree and the other shows the needle reduction. The longer needles are from 2017.

To finish off 2018 I have three photos of this tree. One each for the months of September, October, and November.

I had a repotting study group with Matt Reel this year (2019). I had decided that I wanted to get this tree repotted and rewired this year and took it along to this meeting just in case I had the opportunity to repot it. The chance came up and we repotted the tree. The pot I had was not appropriate for the tree, but it allowed Matt and I to do the angle change that was required for the future development of the tree.

This tree will be rewired this fall and will look great except for the pot. The pot that we used was an 80-year-old Keizan pot. More suitable for a Juniper but we used it because it worked for what we needed.

Bellow, you will see the roots of the tree. I was expecting coarse roots, but what we found was a lot of fine roots. We repotted it in equal parts Akadama, Lava, Pumice. In a few more years when I have the appropriate container for the tree, I will repot the tree again and I expect the roots to be more of a fine root mat. They were not bad this time around. This fall I will reset the branches and allow the tree to grow with minimal intervention from me.

April 2019

The mass amount of roots that have grown since the removal of this tree from its rock pocket.

April 2019

For a Ponderosa Pine, I call those fine roots.

April 2019

The tree right after it was finished getting repotted.

April 2019

Outside after getting watered. 

July 2019

The only work on the tree that has been done on the tree this year after the repot was a little cutting on some of the needles just to remove the vast amount of needle cast and one dose of Sumo Cakes® Root Elixir just to get the mycorrhizae jump started. No other fertilization has been done to the tree. I will wait until the third year needles start to fall off before I do any other work or fertilizing on this tree. (About 4-6 weeks)

September 2019

I took this Ponderosa Pine to a workshop with Matt Reel in September 2019 to get help cleaning the tree up for styling. It was nice to see some of the decisions he made while cleaning. Below is the tree after I got home and wired it.

Moving into 2020

This tree had a good winter tucked away in its winter quarters. In the spring it pushed the new growth and the back budding that had formed. This tree will not be fertilized until the end of August or the beginning of September.

June 2020

I can already see some moves I would like to make in the fall.

July 2020

The needles just keep growing all year long.

August 2020

I did not anticipate this move in the fall. I removed the left side foliage to give it more movement to the right. This also shows the great dead wood feature in the tree. I also thinned the needles as well. I tried not to go to thin as I am repotting in the spring of 2021. I want to make sure the tree has enough energy for that operation.

August 2020

The first image I hope to show in the spring of 2021 is this Ponderosa Pine Bonsai in this Thor Holvila Pot.


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