Balance of growth and strength is a concept that should be applied to all your bonsai. Weakness should be supported and strength should be held back to result in an even growth pattern across your trees. Maintaining balance ensures that inner buds survive and that exterior growth does not get to course. It’s what I think is one of the most important factors to take into account when growing bonsai.

What I have been noticing lately in my garden is that a few trees are out of balance. Pines readily let you know areas that are strong or weak. During spring, candles that grow long are strong, and those that remain short are weak. Pretty simple. In my gardens case, I have re-potted most of my pines this year and some trees are reacting differently to others.

Strong growth

The bonsai above has started to extend its candles. They are about 50mm long and are beginning to form their needles.

Weaker growth.

The second picture taken on the same day of a tree beside the first shows the much weaker growth. there are some healthy candles but overall this tree is much weaker than the first. The candles are extending very slowly and the needles have not yet started to form.

Although both trees have a couple more months of growth before de-candling time, i have found that often the early growth is a good sign of the state of the tree and rarely do weak candles become strong enough to de-candle over the course of the spring.

What does this mean? Well identifying balance issues between trees can help you decide wether or not you will do certain task to particular trees or not.

For example, this year I will de-candle the first tree while leaving the second to grow freely and build up strength.  By identifying overall strength this will allow you to identify weak trees and exclude them from stressful techniques such as de-candling, styling etc. that may further weaken the tree and or even kill it.

So go out and have a look over your trees, look for areas of in-balance and look for trees that are not as healthy as the others. That way when you apply techniques across your collection this season you can be sure that you will be furthering their developement rather than hindering it.