Things have been a bit slow of late on the blog as I am in the process of moving both offices at work and houses. The good news is the house I am moving into has a bigger backyard and the office is closer to home. Both these factors should make for more bonsai time.

That being said I have still been thinking about Radiatas.

I had received some information that some growers in the USA were classing the Monterey pine in its own 3 needle group along with Ponderosa pines. So, i started looking for information on Ponderosa care to see if the techniques would cross over.

I was looking for ponderosa information when i came across Ryan Neil’s website. (Have a look if you haven’t already). After seeing the amazing work he is doing on ponderosas I decided to send him an email seeing if he was willing to share his techniques. He was. An excerpt is below.

Ryan Neil wrote:To answer your question about ponderosas, I do a few things that seem to help. The main thing is to focus on increasing the number of needles on the tree. With ponderosas, much like white pine, they are only geared up to produce one flush of growth/year. As a result cutting buds or needles is not an option and so the energy of the tree must be distributed amongst a large number of needles in order to dilute the strength put into any single needle. On very old Monterey Pine the same is true. This means not plucking any old needles until the fall and always feeding and fertilizing well during the development stage so as to increase bud and needle count. On most trees I have years that are sacrificial of needle size in order to get budding and density, after which I am able to control needle length much easier. I fertilize heavy during these sacrifice years and care little about needle length. However, once a reasonable amount of needles are present, I will not fertilize my ponderosa until September and only give them small amounts in the fall so as to not overly increase their vigour. Again, this applies to trees that have the bud and needle density I’m after.

I was really impressed with Ryan’s generosity and eagerness to share information. He has already demonstrated that he has a lot to give to the bonsai community and i am sure he will help to raise the standard of western bonsai further.

He did mention that he would at some stage like to come out to Australia so fingers crossed for the future.

What do people think about using his ponderosa techniques on Radiatas? His techniques seem to make a lot of sense and from my own experiences i had found that they do not respond very well to black pine techniques so treating them more like a white may be the next step.