Pine Bonsai

Pine trees possess peculiar qualities that make them suitable to be grown into bonsai. Thus, it is no surprising that these trees are now gaining popularity as one of the most in demand variety in the market. If you are planning to start caring for one or interested about the proper ways of taking care of pine bonsai, here some important pointers for you.

Pines, or pinus, are monoecious, evergreen and coniferous trees. Being monoecious means that every single tree has the capability of bearing both male and female cones essential for propagation. As evergreen trees, they can actually live for a very long time and can reach hundreds of years. Being a coniferous tree suggests that they are growing upright and are triangular in shape, with the exception of some specie, with needle like thin leaves. They thrive on mountainous areas and dry conditions. To date, there are approximately 120 known species in this family.


The rich history of pine trees as a distinct trees started in the year 810 in Venice, Italy where it was first noticed as the tree that stands beside the clock tower at St. Mark Square. It did not have a name back then but it is in the 19th century when the name “pine” was coined. The spread of these trees all throughout the world was made possible by human trades. It was such a huge commodity back then as firewood due to its resin content that makes the fire last and was sold or traded for other merchandise.

Species of Pine Grown as Bonsai and Peculiarities

There are a lot of pine species that you can use for bonsai. They may have their distinct characteristics but they share the same basic ways of growing and caring.

  • Red Pine (Pinus Resinosa) – also known as the Norway P., is native to the Northern American region with a little population in the mountains of Virginia. Just like other species, Red Pine usually grows straight up with thin foliage. What sets this specie apart is the presence of orangey to red bark near the tree’s crown, thus the name “red”. The rest of its trunk is covered by thick but flaky grayish to brown bark. This specie cannot live on areas without sunlight but loves breezy locations.
  • Norfolk Pine (Araucaria heterophylla) – as the name suggests, this variety is endemic to Norfolk Island. This tree grows with perfectly symmetrical branches and can grow as tall as 65 meters. Due to the perfect symmetry of its branches, it holds the distinction of being called “Star P.”, “Triangle P.” or the “Living Christmas Tree” because it is used primarily as Christmas tree during the holiday season.
  • Buddhist Pine (Podocarpus macrophyllus) – this specie is native to the southern and eastern part of China and southern part of Japan. Aside from being known as the Buddhist P., it is also known as Yew Plum Pine. Not similar to the foliage of other species, its leaves are star shaped and can grow 6 to 12 cm long. Its bark has high tolerance to termites and water making it the preferred material for houses in Japan. It is important to know that some of the parts of this tree, specifically seeds and cone, are toxic when ingested.
  • Stone Pine (Pinus Pinea) – also known as Italian Stone P. or Umbrella P., this specie is native to Southern European and Mediterranean regions. This plant has thick reddish to brownish trunk with flexible, green foliage. Unlike the triangular contour of other varieties, Stone p. grows a large rounded canopy, thus the name Stone or Umbrella p. Due to its distinct beauty, this tree received the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.
  • Austrian Pine (Pinus Nigra) – known locally as Black Pine, this specie may not be as abundant as the rest of the family. It grows predominantly across the European and Mediterranean regions. Its greyish to brownish bark are so hard that it is considered as the hardest among European trees and is predominantly cut for lumber use.
  • Mugo Pine (Pinus Mugo) – sideways creeping and slow-growing trees that are best grown outdoors.

Planting and Growing Pine Bonsai


In general, Pine bonsais thrive in well-lit areas as they highly depend on the sun to grow. However, you may need to adjust the location of the plant depending on the temperature. While it enjoys the sun during summer, you may need to protect it during winter by bringing it indoors near windows.

Watering and Fertilizing

It is important to monitor the moisture content of the soil when taking care of a pine bonsai. Soil must be replenished with water before it dries out totally. Overwatering must also be avoided to prevent rotting of the plant’s roots. A portable moisture reader can help you decide when to water your plant again. Fertilizing the soil periodically will help nourish the soil with nutrients needed by the plant. The bonsai tree must be fed by regular fertilizers with minimal nitrogen content. For better results, use foliar fertilizer applied every other month.

Trimming and Pruning

Trimming of new shoots is the best method of forcing back the buds of the trees. This is best done during summer when the climate is temperate and ideal for this process. This process also keep your plant miniature. Pruning dead foliage is also a common practice for Pine bonsai. When the plant is already vigorous, you can prune branches and the leaves back to two thirds of its original quantity. Spring is the best season to perform pruning.


Pines are very much flexible to adjust to wirings. You can style your pine bonsai into Formal Upright, Informal Upright, Coiled and Twin Trunk. These trees typically grow fast. Thus, it is important to carefully watch the wires while the plant grows to avoid permanent damage on the trunk of the plant.


Pines can be propagated in multiple ways. However, for greater success rate, propagation by stem cutting is the best option to go. It is important to choose a healthy source or mother plant in order to expect good results. Some bonsai growers prefer propagation through seeds. However, it takes a lot of skill, technique and care to grow pine bonsai from seeds.