Hi, everybody,

here is some more information to go along with my earlier “SERENDIPITY” MUGO post from last week. I do this after a received a comment on this post from my highly respected Bonsai friend Mario Komsta. In which he explained his concern about using this technique as a method for getting more buds to quickly fill your foliage pads with. Believe me, I do know that this pulling off needles technique should not be used for this purpose because it will only work for a short while! Your branch tips will get too thick and ugly in only a few years time! But it could be helpful to get weaker parts of your branches to bud more! And it could be helpful on raw material, where you need a lot of new foliage quickly!

“QUOTE Mario”

hi hans !
that’s a normal reaction to this situation with needles but it is not good.why?coz you will get in one spot many new buds which look very bad, you should remove all of them and leave only two or maybe three.the tree maintained like that will have superb ramification and very nice shape. moreover, if you leave more than two or three buds in the same place you will get a big ball at this place in the future. The way you are maintaining pines is incorrect ( fast to make density but ugly in the future ). keep in touch, Mario.

“QUOTE end”

But reading back what I posted earlier, I see why Mario responded and wanted to warn me and others about what will happen if you leave all these buds on the branch tips for the wrong reasons. And for that effort, I thank Mario, who is not too selfish to help others. He made me see, that I should not over-enthusiastically write a post expecting anyone to understand what goes on in my brain! 🙂 I should explain my self better the next time! 4 days ago I had removed almost all bud on the branch tips, leaving only 2 well-placed buds. I left 3 buds on the weak branches (see pictures below) and that fact, is why I was so excited! 3 buds on a, earlier, weak branch!!!! I wrote this post under the misconception that everyone knows that you should only leave two buds on every branch tip. Especially on a more established tree like this is. Because otherwise, the branch tips will become too rough and thick in a short period of time. But this unwanted side effect of the multitude buds growth that happened on my Mugo, was not why I was so excited and I  should have explained that right from the start!  So thanks Mario for your help! Here is what I should have posted as an explanation along with the earlier post, this is why I thought this technique could be interesting to me!


8-6-2009-003-hans-van-meer      8-6-2009-005-hans-van-meer


Above: 3 days ago I removed all unwanted buds. Leaving 2 well places buds. The reason why I do this late is that until a few weeks ago, they were very hard to keep apart to safely remove them with a small tweezer!


Above larch picture: This was last September a very weak branch with only a few long needles with a weak bud. If I would not have then, for another reason, pulled off some of the long needles from that year, I now still would have had a weak branch with only one weak candle. Cutting off that weak candle in mid Summer, would not have let to this much new buds, that I had got with this removing off new needles! Only the timing should be a bit better the next time, I believe it is better to pull off the needles in early Summer when they are still soft. This way the new buds that appear can strengthen during that same season! I will try it only on the weaker branches and candles! On the strong parts of this Pine, I will keep on working in the normal way. Because I don’t want my branch tips to become too full and thick! But I do think this could be a useful technique to get more buds on an otherwise weak inner branch.


Above quick drawing:

Left: Sept. 2008. If I would have cut off the candle (red line) like you would normally do with a stronger candle, to force this week bud into making more than one new bud. I would most likely end up with a slightly longer weak branch with still only one weak bud on it (Left bottom: July 2009) As so often happens with these tiny branches that try to grow in the more light sheltered places of a big Pine like this one. These tiny branches often die back by them self or are removed by use because the just will not get any stronger!

Right: Sept. 2008. But I had pulled off the too long needles, for purely aesthetic reasons, and that had triggered this tree into survival mode and sure enough, it reacted with an abundance of new buds on this and other weak small branches! The right bottom drawing: I left 3 buds on these weaker branches. Now, this otherwise useless branch has a real chance to become a strong branch that can become an important part of the branch design. More important, because it grows strongly there now, I would be able to shorten the big branch it grows from in the future, if this would be necessary!

So I hope this makes it all a bit clearer! I will keep you all posted if I know something more to tell! I am happy with so many buds on my inner growth and weak branches!

Thanks Mario for your input and help, your thoughts on this are always welcome my friend! 🙂


Hans van Meer.


  1. Hi Hans!
    I see you descovered or redescovered an interessting technique. In my opinion it is a good one because you have so much new buds to choose from. Of course you must leave only two or three, but you can choose from menny more and decide where they should stay.
    I’ll try this on my pines for myself and see what happens.

    Regards, Nik Rozman


  2. Hans,
    For clarification – Right side of drawings you said that you removed the too long needles, but the sketch shows needle stubs, did you cut them or totally pull them off the branch?
    Cheers Graham


  3. Hi Graham, they were completely pulled off! I left those dots on to show were they were pulled off, but i must admit it is confusing! 🙂 I will make a better one tonight.


  4. Hi Nik,
    yes and all by accident! 🙂 Yes why not try it on a few branches and see what happens with your tree? And than share it with us off course. But like Mario sad, be careful not to fall in to the trap off letting your branch tips become to dens and thick, because that is not what we are after and it will be very hard to correct in the future. Good luck with the testing and keep use informed with your results!


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