Sand Pine Bonsai – Using an Uncommon Native Variety

Exhibiting delicate thin needles, sand pine bonsai are an interesting and difficult to find species. Perhaps one of the main reasons is that their native habit is mostly flat and you guessed it, sandy. This combination produces straight trees with poor surface roots. If you are lucky enough to find a large fallen tree that cracked, bent and tore but not killed smaller collectible trees you’re often left with very limited surface roots. Unlike juniper, pines generally won’t survive with few roots and misting after collection. They need substantial feeder roots to perpetuate new growth as they slowly crawl out of the resource deficit collecting puts them in.

I am currently treating my sand pine similarly to Japanese black pine as they are both two needle multi-flush pine.  My methods are no more than an experiment at this point and should be taken as such. I’m currently using volcanic aggregate and pine bark for the mycorrhiza.

Here is a small sand pine bonsai that was collected in 2014. It needed to rest for about two and a half years before it showed signs it was ready for work. Last year it was given its first styling and is starting to take some shape. I’m decandling in July as with my black pines and so far so good.

Sand Pine Bonsai


Here is another one developed from a seedling now about five years old. It doesn’t have any good usable growth close to the trunk so I am grafting. Normally the grafting nails are driven flush with the soft green rubber to securely hold the graft. I was concerned I may damage the branch too much. In the future shortening the grafting nails would probably be a better option, hopefully they do their job. I’m also grafting a branch near the base to serve as a sacrifice branch. This tree isn’t going to be ready for a bonsai pot next year or in five years so I want think ahead and take my time.

You can see another approach graft held down with tie tape. It is likely to fail because I did not cut a groove deep enough for the new branch, I’ll check later this year and see if it has healed over.

These trees don’t really reflect any native Pine you might find in Florida. I’m a sucker for contorted trees and I enjoy making trees using only one’s own imagination as a reference.

I let the wire cut in fairly deep on the first tree. Now I know the main trunk won’t lose its shape, the tree will heal just fine and there’s no rush.

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