How do I Care for a Japanese Black Pine Bonsai?

Written by charmayne smith
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How do I Care for a Japanese Black Pine Bonsai?
The needles of the Japanese black pine are much longer than other pine trees. (pine branches image by Radu Razvan from

The Japanese black pine is a hardy evergreen tree that originates in Asia. This vigorous growing tree develops fragrant, dark-green needles and grows into an obscure pyramidal shape. The Japanese black pine has a high drought tolerance and thrives in most well-drained soils. These tolerant characteristics make the Japanese black pine tree an excellent selection for bonsai.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Potting soil
  • Coarse sand or Akadama Pumice
  • Pruning shears
  • Tweezer
  • Fertiliser
  • Potting container

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  1. 1

    Plant Japanese black pine bonsai in a well-drained soil environment. Plant in a nutrient-rich potting soil with equal amounts of clean, coarse sand, or mix equal amounts of pumice and akadama, as recommended by Bonsai Gardener.

  2. 2

    Line the bottom one-third of a well-draining container with the soil mixture. Position the bonsai in the centre of the container. Fill the remaining two-thirds of the container with soil while making sure that all of the roots are covered. Press the soil firmly around the black pine to secure its upright position.

  3. 3

    Irrigate the Japanese black pine bonsai deeply using tepid water. Water the bonsai at soil-level to reduce the potential of needle disease. Irrigate the bonsai until the water flows evenly from the container's drainage system.

  4. 4

    Keep the Japanese black pine bonsai in a location that receives at least six to eight hours of full sunlight to promote its vigorous growth.

  5. 5

    Feed the Japanese black pine bonsai approximately twice throughout the growing season, from early spring through late fall. Use a well-balanced, slow-release fertiliser such as an 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 combination, or select an organic fertiliser cake, as recommended by the Bonsai Society of San Francisco. Follow the label directions to avoid over-fertilising.

  6. 6

    Prune the Japanese black pine bonsai in late winter to early spring, before the onset of its growing season. Remove dead, dying or diseased branches and stems. Use clean, sterile pruning shears to complete this process. Use sterile tweezers to pinch away unwanted needles from the tree. Remove longer, matured needles first to promote the development of smaller, more proportionately size needles that complement the size of the bonsai.

  7. 7

    Treat the Japanese black pine bonsai for insects and disease in the early spring. Apply a fungicidal spray to protect against diseases such as tip blight and rust. Use an insecticide to prevent pest infestations, such as turpentine beetles, mites and moths. Apply each treatment so that the entire tree and needles are covered. Follow the instructions to prevent injury to your bonsai.

  8. 8

    Re-pot the Japanese black pine bonsai every one to two years, as needed, to prevent it from becoming root bound. Complete the repotting process during the early spring, just before the bonsai enters the growing season. Use fresh soil and a clean, well-drained container for the process.

  9. 9

    Irrigate the bonsai immediately after repotting to promote a good establishment and remove potential air pockets from the soil. Irrigate with tepid water and at soil level until the excess water flows evenly from the container's drainage holes.

  10. 10

    Place the newly repotted Japanese black pine bonsai in a bright but partially shaded location for approximately three to four weeks after repotting, as recommended by the Bonsai Gardener.

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